All the drama that we love about March Madness was in abundance during Saturday's second-round action. Frenetic finishes, upsets and legendary performances were on display as March Madness continued on.
One of the day's top surprises came early in the slate with No. 8 seed North Carolina smacking No. 1 seed Baylor early -- then Baylor punching back -- in a stunning OT game the Tar Heels eventually won. The reigning-champion Bears trailed by as many as 25 points before forcing an extra period behind a furious comeback. UNC pulled away in the extra frame to win 93-86.
It continued into the afternoon and evening as No. 1 seed Kansas got itself a pretty good scare but ended up with a tally in the win column against a banged-up No. 9 seed Creighton. The Jayhawks struggled to fend off the Bluejays' small-ball ways, but got a huge 20 points off the bench from Remy Martin to lead them to a 79-72 win despite struggles from star Ochai Agbaji and big man David McCormack.
No. 3 seed Tennessee was less fortunate in its bid to avoid an upset, as the Volunteers dropped a 76-68 game to No. 11 seed Michigan. The Wolverines are marching on to their fifth consecutive Sweet 16.
Finally, the evening window delivered a remix of this NCAA Tournament's top Cinderella story as No. 15 seed Saint Peter's beat No. 7 seed Murray State 70-60 two days after taking down No. 2 seed Kentucky, cementing its place in March lore forever. And to finish the night, No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga dug out of a 12-point second half deficit to defeat No. 9 seed Memphis 82-78.
Here's the full rundown of the day's winners and losers:
Winner: Gonzaga shows championship mettle
For a second consecutive game in the tournament, No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga came out flat. Yet, for a second consecutive game, the Zags finished with a flurry.
The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half and dug themselves out of the hole and then some in an impressive 82-78 come-from-behind win. Led by big man Drew Timme's 25 points and 14 rebounds along with Andrew Nembhard's 23 points, they outclassed a Memphis team that was physical early on by banging it down low with Timme -- who had 21 of his 25 in the second half and apparently delivered a fiery halftime locker room speech that motivated the team.
"I said I don't give a flying F what happens at the end of the game, whether we lose or win, but we're not going out as soft guys," said Timme on TBS postgame. "I said 'Hey man, if you go all out and we still lose, play with no regrets.' We took that to heart and came out with the win fortunately."
Winner: Saint Peter's dancing on
The No. 15 seed Peacocks of Saint Peter's are headed to the Sweet 16, where they will face the winner of Sunday's game between No. 3 seed Purdue and No. 6 seed Texas in the East Region semifinals. Defensive star KC Ndefo led Saint Peter's with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in the win over Murray State, and Doug Edert added 13 points after pouring in 20 vs. Kentucky earlier in the week. The Peacocks are just the third No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16, joining Florida Gulf Coast (2013) and Oral Roberts (2021).
Loser: Ex-champs Baylor goes down in OT
No. 1 seed Baylor overcame an incredible 25-point (!) deficit against North Carolina in the second round and pushed the Tar Heels to overtime. But, in the end, the reigning champion Bears didn't have the horses. It was an unfortunate turn of events for Baylor that led to an early exit from this year's NCAA Tournament. Injuries to leading scorer LJ Cryer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, both of whom missed the game, proved costly while UNC hit its peak.
Winner: North Carolina coach Hubert Davis
It's a nearly impossible task, taking over for a legendary coach. But succeeding Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams has been a successful venture for Davis, even if it's not been the smoothest. UNC looked well outside the tournament picture during the middle of the season and its résumé was lacking. But it stuck around, won 11 of its final 13 regular-season games and captured momentum just in time for the postseason.
A 23-8 regular-season record for the Tar Heels program – especially given UNC's standing in the college hoops hierarchy – is nothing to write home about. But Davis getting his team into the Sweet 16, and doing so with a win over No. 1 seed Baylor, is something this program can absolutely build momentum around moving forward.
Winner: Eli Brooks shows veteran savvy
It's a time-honored cliche that veteran guard play is critical to NCAA Tournament success. Michigan's Eli Brooks proved it true once again in a win over Tennessee. Brooks has been there for much of the Wolverines' postseason success, starting out as a role player on the 2018 team that lost the national title game and growing into the team's elder statesman this season. He scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half on Saturday to give leading scorer Hunter Dickinson a much-needed sidekick. Together, the duo combined for 50 of Michigan's 76 points.
Winner: Kennedy Chandler's draft stock
Tennessee's true freshman point guard had himself a day against Michigan. The Vols lost, but Chandler controlled the game and took over for large stretches. It was an impressive showing for him as he used his speed to get to the cup and hesitations and pace to set up his teammates. He finished with 19 points, nine assists and four boards to go with only three turnovers while playing 37 of the game's 40 minutes.
"Kennedy is an elite player. He's one of the best guards in the country," said Michigan coach Juwan Howard during his post-game interview. "To see the output, the effort, the growth, and being able to produce on the court with how he lead the team was special."
Kennedy Chandler showed what makes him intriguing as a NBA point guard prospect with his speed, creativity, vision, perimeter shooting, and ability to make reads out of PNR, finishing with 19 points and 9 assists in Tennessee's NCAA tournament loss to Michigan. pic.twitter.com/KvnPGt5CNS— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 20, 2022
Loser: Tennessee goes cold
Chandler aside, the Volunteers went cold. Tennessee tied a season-low with two made 3-pointers, going 2 for 18 from deep. For a team that entered in the top 50 nationally in 3-point shooting percentage and made 3-pointers per game, the outside shooting woes proved too much to overcome. The Volunteers won an SEC Tournament title and finished No. 5 in the AP poll in large part because of their defense and 3-point shooting. Neither was at its best against Michigan.
Winner: Arkansas coach Eric Musselman
Arkansas did not make a Sweet 16 between 1996 and 2019, but in the first two seasons Eric Musselman's Razorbacks have been eligible, they've advanced to at least the Sweet 16. (And last year, it was an Elite Eight.) Might as well just print this paragraph off and submit it to the AD for a raise after the season.
The turnaround Musselman's accomplished in Fayetteville is astounding. This uptempo team plays with incredible pace, but it can win with defense, too, as we saw Saturday. New Mexico State put up just 48 points, 12 of which came from star Teddy Allen. The win put Arkansas into the second weekend and set it up with a major showdown with No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga.
Loser: Richmond's run as Cinderella flames out
Providence has a way of grinding games – and opponents – down over the course of two halves. And it did so again Saturday, making quick work of a Richmond team that had been on a tear and handled Iowa in Round 1. The Friars will be dancing on to face Kansas in the Sweet 16 after an easy 79-51 victory.
Providence's success came by limiting Richmond star Jacob Gilyard to four points – including zero in the first half – just days after he dropped 24 in the win over Iowa. The Friars also dominated the boards and defended the 3 at an elite level, limiting Richmond to only 1-of-21 shooting from beyond the arc.
Winner: Creighton's fight
Creighton entered the second round as one of the nation's worst 3-point shooting teams with a 30.3% mark for the season. But the Bluejays found their groove from distance in a loss to Kansas, hitting 12 of 28 attempts from deep. The shooting was vital to Creighton's competitiveness in the game, but what stood out most was the team's valiant effort amid devastating injuries. Big East Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Kalkbrenner was lost due to a knee injury in Creighton's first-round game, and that injury came on the heels of a season-ending wrist injury to point guard Ryan Nembhard. Despite having just six players in its rotation against the mighty Jayhawks, Creighton never relented. This team showed its grit Saturday, and there are plenty of young players who can return to build off what was started.
Winner: Good Remy Martin appears
The final loop of the Remy Martin roller-coaster at Kansas is off to an exhilarating start. Martin's 20 points in Kansas' 79-72 win over Creighton helped the Jayhawks avoid an upset and constituted his highest-scoring game as a member of the Jayhawks. Martin entered with sky-high expectations following a prolific four-year run at Arizona State, but things have not gone according to plan. A knee injury and a general lack of cohesion with coach Bill Self have kept Martin from thriving over the last few months. But with a combined 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting through two NCAA Tournament games, it appears Martin saved his best for last.
Loser: Jaime Jaquez Jr.'s status
UCLA scored a 72-56 win over No. 5 seed Saint Mary's to advance to the Sweet 16, but it may have come at a price. In the second half, star guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. went down with an injury and did not return to the game.
The health of Jaquez Jr. will easily be one of the biggest storylines entering the second weekend. His ability to score for the Bruins changes the complexion of that offense, and he's one of the most reliable defenders for Mick Cronin's club to boot. If he can't go or isn't 100%, it could make the No. 8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels one of the trendy picks to emerge as a Final Four candidate.
"We have until Friday to play. Trust me, if he can walk, he'll play," Cronin said. "He's one of the best players in the country. He's going to get the treatment and rehab he needs, and hopefully he'll be good by Friday."