If yesterday was all about the upsets, this evening’s early Sweet 16 games have been all chalk. #1 Kansas crushed Richmond 77-57 while North Carolina blew out Marquette 81-63 to book their places in the Elite 8.
The Kansas Richmond game started off with some sparks as the teams pushed and moved in the tunnel prior to the game. Kansas guard Brady Morningstar played down the fracas.
“No, I mean it’s just a lot of energy, getting ready to play a big game. Both teams were excited. So that’s just how sports are sometimes. And I respect Richmond a lot. They’re a heck of a team, and I’m glad we got a good win tonight.”
Although he played it down, it certainly seemed like something had lit a fire under Kansas. The Jayhawks stormed out to 31-9 lead to start the game. Brady Morningstar led the Buckeyes with 18 and Marcus Morris provided 13 points and seven boards as Kansas advanced to it’s fourth elite 8 in the past eight seasons. Kansas has won by an average of 18 points a game so far in the tournament. With Ohio State being eliminated by Kentucky tonight, the Jayhawks have to be the prohibitive favorite to win the whole thing. With their next opponent being the winner of the #11 VCU vs #10 Florida St. game, the highest seed Kansas will have to face before the final four would have been #9 Illinois.
The other game wasn’t much closer… only two points in fact. North Carolina easily dispatched of Marquette 81-63. Much like the Kansas game, this one was over by the half as well with the Tarheels taking a 40-15 lead into the half. Marquette shot just 6-30 from the field in the first half and did not record a single assist.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said that losing in the ACC title game to Duke actually helped his team coming into the tournament
“I think we understand that and started preparation for this tournament, and I think we had our batteries recharged and we were so much more effective with our concentration, we played better since this tournament started. "
North Carolina now faces Kentucky in the East region finals.