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March Madness Recap Ahead of the Final Four- East Region

East Region

Round of 64

1 Purdue 58

16 Fairleigh Dickinson 63

By far the biggest upset in tournament history, Purdue had been ranked a No. 1 seed the entire season on the back of the NCAA's National Player of the Year, Zach Edey. However, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights seemed to have all the answers to the Boilermakers' game plan. They sped up the pace and relied on lights-out three-point shooting that the 1 seed couldn't keep up with. As a result, it is only the second time in tournament history that a 16 seed moves on to the Round of 32, leaving Purdue coach Matt Painter in a tough spot after three straight early exits in March.

8 Memphis 65

9 FAU 66

These are the games that make March Madness so special. The eight vs. nine seed games are often a coin flip, and this one lived up to that reputation. It was a tough fight through 35 minutes, with both teams struggling to put together quality runs due to the tight defensive play. Finally, with 10 seconds left, Memphis turned the ball over with a 1-point lead, and FAU guard Nicholas Boyd took advantage, driving from the right side of the three-point line straight at the hoop and cashing 2 of his 8 points on the night. That would be the difference and the start of a glorious run for FAU. This one will leave Memphis fans wondering what could have been.

5 Duke 74

12 Oral Roberts 51

Oral Roberts was the Cinderella story of the tournament just two years ago. It was thought they could rekindle that same magic this year, returning as a 12 seed with their star guard Max Abmas. But Duke was too strong, particularly on the glass, outrebounding the Golden Eagles 46-32 throughout the game. Nevertheless, in their first tournament game in almost 40 years without Coach K, the Blue Devils got the job done. Next up is a tough out from the SEC, the Tennessee Volunteers. 4 Tennessee 58 13 Louisiana 55 Tennessee is known for playing bully ball. They are not afraid to get down in the paint and fight for every inch, which seems to be the difference in this game. The Vols struggled from three on the night, hitting only 4 of 16 from beyond the arc, but their rebounding and second-chance opportunities allowed them to hold on for a close win. Vols fans look ahead to a matchup with Duke to move on to the Sweet 16.

6 Kentucky 61

11 Providence 53

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats started off their tournament with a big win over the Providence Friars. Both teams shot just over 36 percent throughout the game and left a lot to be desired from a viewer's standpoint, but the edge is rebounding, and free throws turned out to be the difference for Kentucky as they won handily to move on to the round of 32. Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe was unstoppable on the glass, snatching a game-high 25 rebounds, further cementing himself as one of the best bigs in college basketball.

3 Kansas St 77

14 Montana St 65

Kansas State proved they deserved that 3 seed given to them on Selection Sunday. There was discussion on whether their 11-7 conference record indicated such a high tournament ranking, coming out of a stacked Big 12. But the Wildcats showed up and balled, with star guard Markquis Nowell leading the way, putting up a double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds) on the night. Nowell may be one of the best playmakers in college basketball, and he showed it in this one.

7 Michigan St 72

10 USC 62

January, February, IZZO. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is known for taking under-skilled teams and making runs in the tournament. This underdog mentality has allowed his teams to play with a passion and tenacity that is revered throughout college basketball. A few analysts picked USC as a sleeper Final Four team, but Izzo's boys dispatched them in a hard-fought first-round matchup. USC bested the Spartans in rebounds and free throw percentage, two metrics known as key components to winning in March, but it was not enough. Fifth-year Senior Joey Hauser put up a game-high 17 points on the night and will look to carry that momentum into a second-round matchup with a 2-seed Marquette.

2 Marquette 78

15 Vermont 61

Not much to say about this one; the Vermont Catamounts were in over their heads with this matchup. It is commendable that the team from the American East conference even made the tournament, but Marquette outclassed them on every level of the game. Most impressively, the Golden Eagles were 50 percent from beyond the arch and only turned the ball over five times throughout the game. That three-and-D style will be vital if they want to keep pace with Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans in the next round.

Round of 32

16 Fairleigh Dickinson 70

9 FAU 78

Where one Cinderella story ends, is another one just beginning? Coming off the high of upsetting a 1-seed Purdue in the first round, some may have thought that Fairleigh Dickinson would come out flat in this one. Those people would be wrong. The game was tightly contested, and at the 2-minute mark, the Knights were only down 3 points. But Florida Atlantic went on a 7-0 run and put the game out of reach. The Owls are looking feisty early in this tournament, and Johnell Davis is having a bit of a coming-out party, putting up 29 points and 12 rebounds in this one.

5 Duke 52

4 Tennessee 65

Duke was outmuscled in this matchup. The days of the chippy, tournament-ready Blue Devil squads under Coach K are over, and Jon Scheyer’s team had trouble finding their identity throughout the 40 minutes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you have to win the rebound battle and hit your free throws to win in this tournament, and Tennessee did both to vault the Vols back into the Sweet 16. Olivier Nkamhoua had a game-high 27 points for Tennessee, and he will need to be equally as sharp in their next matchup with the red-hot Florida Atlantic Owls.

6 Kentucky 69

3 Kansas St 75

Every year, one or two players stick out as big-time players for their teams in the tournament, and you can't write the story of this year's tournament without Markquis Nowell. What the 5'8 guard lacks in height, he makes up for in hustle and creativity. Whenever the Wildcats needed a bucket in this one, Nowell was there to deliver. Kansas State knew going in that they would lose the rebound game, as Oscar Tshiebwe put up another great game with 18 boards, so they pushed the tempo and made the game a track meet. Kentucky couldn't match up. Nowell took over the game, putting up 27 points and nine rebounds to help his squad advance to the Sweet 16 against Michigan State. John Calipari may be on the hot seat in Kentucky, as the blue blood program has failed to reach the Sweet 16 in the last four years.

7 Michigan St 69

2 Marquette 60

Tom Izzo has a 27-4 record in the second half of back-to-back tournament games, meaning if his team is on one day’s rest, put your money on the Spartans. Tyson Walker was the star of the game, putting up 23 points in his 36 minutes of floor time. Michigan State struggled from 3 throughout the game, going just 2 for 16, but essentially abandoned it in the second half. Instead, driving hard into the lanes and forcing Marquette to either foul or give up the easy bucket. Canadian Olivier-Maxence Prosper did his best to keep the Golden Eagles in it, but it wasn't enough. So the Spartans advance to take on Kansas State in the Sweet 16; this one has all the makings of a classic.

Sweet 16

9 FAU 62

4 Tennessee 55

The Vols looked like they had it in the bag for most of the game. They dictated a slow, methodical pace and forced the high-flying Owls to play their game. This was until the 9-minute mark of the second half when a 10-0 run on the back of two Michael Forrest 3's put the game firmly in hand for Florida Atlantic. This is turning into a serious run for the Owls, who will Hoot on to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history.

3 Kansas St 98

7 Michigan St 93

Markquis Nowell has become one of the biggest stories of the tournament. As if his 20 points weren't enough, he also added a tournament-record 19 assists. This back-and-forth matchup seemed just to be a constant exchange of Michigan State hitting a shot and Nowell responding. Look up Nowell circus three-pointer to see what I mean; the guy was borderline unstoppable. We would need overtime in this one, but the fan-favorite Kansas State Wildcats were too much for the Spartans, sending them to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2018.

Elite 8

9 FAU 79

3 Kansas St 76

This game was something special. March Madness has been as mad as it could possibly be, with upsets seemingly every game and without a single 1 seed in the Elite 8. Both FAU and Kansas State have won the hearts of college basketball fans, but only one could move on. Markquis Nowell had been one of the best players in the tournament up until this game, and he didn't disappoint in this one either, slicing through lanes, dishing circus passes to open teammates, and nailing clutch 3s all afternoon. However, his 30 points and 12 assists wouldn't be enough, as the Owls held off a last-minute push and denied Ismael Massoud a chance for the game-tying 3. The big 7' Russian Vladislav Golden put up a double-double, continuing to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Michael Forrest hit four clutch free throws to end the game allowing Florida Atlantic to become only the third nine-seed in tournament history to make the Final Four. The Florida Atlantic Owls will represent the East Region in their first Final Four in program history. They will take on San Diego St in Houston on April 1st for the right to go to the National Championship game.

Image Credit: The Sporting News

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