The field for the Sweet 16 is most likely not what many expected it to be, and part of that has to do with what the seventh-seeded Nevada Wolf Pack pulled off on Sunday night. The Wolf Pack rallied from a 22-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to stun the second-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats, 75-73, in the second round of the south region. Josh Hall broke the tie with 9.1 seconds left after an offensive rebound, sending Nevada to just their second Sweet 16 appearance in school history. Cody Martin had 25 points, six rebounds, and seven rebounds to lead the Wolf Pack to what is the second-largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history. The only bigger comeback came in 2012 when BYU overcame a 25-point deficit to eliminate Iona. The Duke Blue Devils have also come back from a 22-point deficit in the tournament, doing so against Maryland Terrapins in the 2001 Final Four. The Wolf Pack were able to put up 32 points in the final 11 minutes of Sunday's game, while also holding the Bearcats without a basket in the final five minutes, 45 seconds of game time. This improbable win came just two days after they came back from a 14-point, second half deficit to beat Texas in overtime for their first tournament win since 2007. They will now continue on to battle another team that probably shouldn't still be alive in 11th-seeded Loyola Chicago in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.
Xavier Becomes Second Top Seed to Fall
To make the field in the Sweet 16 even more outrageous, just two of the top seeds remain alive heading in to the tournament's second weekend. That fact became true on Sunday night when top-seeded Xavier fell to ninth-seeded Florida State, 75-70. Braian Angola had 15 points and six rebounds to lead the Seminoles to what is their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2011. P.J. Savoy was clutch down the stretch with the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:08 left, which gave the Seminoles their first lead of the second half, completing their rally from a 12-point deficit. They faced that deficit with 10:42 left in the game, but outscored the Musketeers, 31-14, the rest of the way. The Musketeers were hoping to go further after reaching the Elite 8 last season and returning four starters this year. Instead, they become the second top seed to fall this weekend, joining Virginia, who fell to UMBC on Friday night. Savoy was also big at the free throw line, sinking both attempts from the charity strike with 21.6 seconds left, sealing the upset victory for Florida State. This played the role of payback for the Seminoles, who fell to then 11th-seeded Xavier, 91-66, in the second round of last year's tournament. They will now move on to the Sweet 16 to battle the fourth-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Michigan State/UNC Fall in Second Round
It has become an unfortunate trend for the Michigan State Spartans as of late, and that's early exits in the NCAA Tournament. Tom Izzo's club was taken out in the second round on Sunday afternoon with a 55-53 loss to the 11th-seeded Syracuse Orange. The Spartans struggled to hit a shot in the game, finishing at 25 percent shooting in what was a tough performance at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Meanwhile, the Orange, who was the last team selected into the field of 68, (yes, that includes the First Four), won their third straight postseason game, despite struggling from the floor themselves. They were able to keep Arizona State to 56 points in the First Four, TCU to 52 in the Round of 64, and then their defense stepped up again on Sunday. Following a missed free throw, Cassius Winston missed a halfcourt heave at the buzzer, ending the Spartans' chances. Their struggles seem to come from them settling for three-point shots, as they finished just 8-for-37 from beyond the arc in the loss. Later in the day, the defending National Champions struggled mightily in another second round upset, as second-seeded North Carolina got blown out by seventh-seeded Texas A&M, 86-65. T.J. Starks had 21 points to lead the Aggies, who made it be the second straight year that the defending champions would not make it to the Sweet 16. Tyler Davis added 16 points for a team that got all the way to No. 5 in the AP Polls in December before barely making the field of 64. The Tar Heels could not take advantage of what was basically a home game in Charlotte, failing to reach what would've been a third straight Final Four. Joel Berry had 21 points for UNC, who fell to 30-2 in NCAA Tournament games in their home state, with the other loss taking place in 1979. The Aggies now move on to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to take on the third-seeded Michigan Wolverines in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. The Syracuse Orange battle fellow ACC foe, Duke, on Friday.