CBS Sports college basketball analyst Steve Lappas spent the first couple of days of the NCAA Tournament in Jacksonville – and wow, did he witness some incredible games.
“Obviously the Georgia State game with Baylor was unbeatable,” Lappas said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence, referring to the Panthers‘ 57-56 second-round win. “(Ron Hunter) being on the stool and falling off the stool when his son (R.J.) makes the (game-winning, thee-point) shot – honestly, you couldn’t make this up. You couldn’t write a story about this as fiction and think people would believe it.”
But people do believe it – because it happened. And because it will live on in NCAA Tournament highlight reels for years to come.
As captivating as Georgia State’s win was, though, there sure were a lot of elite teams who lost in the Round of 64 or the Round of 32. In addition to Baylor, we had No. 3 Iowa State losing 60-59 to UAB, we had No. 1 Villanova losing to NC State 71-68, and we had No. 2 Kansas losing to Wichita State 78-65, among other chalk upsets.
Why did these elite teams from elite conferences not live up to expectations?
“It is hard to put one thing on all these teams that weren’t able to advance from leagues that had great years and ended up being where they ended up,” Lappas said. “Everyone is in a different situation. Baylor was a team that decided to sit on their lead with four mutes to go, which was a mistake. And all of a sudden, Georgia State comes back and wins the game.”
R.J. Hunter scored 12 points in the final three minutes, as Georgia State ended the game on a 13-0 run.
“Kansas (had a) tough matchup,” Lappas continued. “Wichita State has three really experienced perimeter guys that were terrific.”
Those three guys are Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton, who combined for 48 points against Kansas. Even Evan Wessel had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from downtown.
“Last year, (Wichita State had an) undefeated season (and) lost (in the tournament) to Kentucky in a great game,” Lappas said. “Two years ago, they’re in the Final Four. Very experienced guys. So I don’t know that you can really put a title on all these teams and what they did. Every game was different and a different situation.”
Lappas also discussed Villanova, where he coached from 1992 to 2001. The Wildcats were expected to reach their first Final Four since 2009 but didn’t even make it to the Sweet 16, falling to the Wolfpack, 71-68, on Saturday.
Villanova shot just 19-of-61 (31.1 percent) from the floor against NC State, including 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) from three-point range.
“Villanova was a team that was very reliant on the three-point shot, No. 1,” Lappas said, explaining the upset. “Their inside game, which I though was better – I thought (Daniel) Ochefu had really improved – it didn’t really help them in the game against NC State.”
Wolfpack forwards Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu both recorded double-doubles, combining for 24 points and 24 rebounds.
“So they didn’t shoot the three well and then NC State’s inside guys dominated them with double-doubles,” Lappas said. “That’s why Villanova went home. I thought Villanova was a little more versatile than they ended up proving to be.”