MBB NCAA Tournament: Houston, Tech advance to Sweet 16, Brandon Clarke overwhelms Baylor

Photo by John Hamilton

Tech and Houston push on to Sweet 16

Both Houston and Texas Tech might’ve been trendy upset picks heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Both teams flamed out of their conference tournament, although the Coogs made it to the title game before going cold against Cincinnati, and both drawing relatively challenging matchups through the first weekend.

However, both teams proved their title-contender status by taking care of business and punching their respective tickets to the Sweet 16. Houston drew Sun Belt Champion Georgia State and Player of the Year, D’Marcus Simonds in the first round. But Houston’s own star, Corey Davis Jr., and his game-high 26 points helped blow the game open in the second half resulting in an 84-55 Houston win.

Tech, on the other hand, took care of business against both Northern Kentucky and more impressively, in the second round, against a Buffalo team that was one of the best two-way teams in the nation with an offensive and defensive rating both in the Top 30 in Kenpom. At one point, the Red Raiders lead nearly ballooned to 30 points and held the Bulls to 25 points in the first half before eventually winning, 78-58.

Houston knocked off an upset-ready Ohio State team that defeated Big XII Tournament champion Iowa State in the opening round. Again, Davis Jr. poured in a game-high 21 points and was backed up by his backcourt mate Galen Robinson Jr.’s 13 points. This is the first Sweet 16 appearance for Houston since 1984 during the tail end of the Phi Slama Jamma era. 

Thursday, March 28 at 8:39 p.m. on CBS

No. 3 Texas Tech (26 - 6) vs No. 2 Michigan (28 - 6)

Friday March 29 at 8:57 p.m. on TBS

No. 3 Houston (31 - 3) vs No. 2 Kentucky (27 - 6)


Baylor busts the 2-3 zone, but falls to Gonzaga

Seemingly every year teams forget how to play against Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 matchup zone defense in the NCAA Tournament, but this year Baylor knew exactly what it was getting into. And conversely, the Orange couldn’t solve the Bears’ 1-3-1 matchup zone on its end of the court. That was enough for an opening round, 78-69 win for Baylor.

Makai Mason did what he’s done all season and led the Baylor onslaught from deep with 22 points. The Bears shot 16-of-34 (47 percent) from 3-point range to overwhelm Syracuse.

Unfortunately, the 3-point magic didn’t roll over into the second round. The Bears went 4-of-21 from deep against No. 1 seed Gonzaga and fell victim to the Bulldogs’ star forward Brandon Clarke, 83-71. One of the nation's most efficient finishers ended with a game-high 34 points against Baylor’s overmatched frontcourt. At one point, Baylor had it as close as 43-38 early in the second half before the Zags pulled away.

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