NCAA Tournament

NCAA bracket buzz

Green machine

One day after St. Patrick’s Day, Green was the color of choice for Michigan State on Sunday. Senior forward Draymond Green had 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists as the top-seeded Spartans edged No. 9 seed Saint Louis 65-61 in Columbus, Ohio., reaching the West Regional semifinals in Phoenix. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo advanced to his sixth Sweet 16 in the last 10 years, but this run is largely shaping up to be a story about Green, the Spartans’ do-everything forward. After recording a triple-double against LIU Brooklyn in the Spartans’ opener, Green is now averaging 20 points, 12.5 rebounds and eight assists in two NCAA Tournament games. He’s also joined former Spartan Magic Johnson and Cincinnati great Oscar Robertson as the only players in history to have more than one triple-double in the Big Dance.

Spitting down the River

North Carolina coach Roy Williams used to make his Kansas teams spit in the Mississippi River before games in St. Louis for good luck. Well, the Tar Heels may want to think about doing a little spittin’ this time around after dispatching No. 8 seed Creighton 87-73 in Greensboro, N.C., and advancing to the Midwest Regional semifinals at the Edward Jones Dome.

Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall had 18 points and 11 assists, but broke a bone in his wrist on a drive to the basket in the second half. North Carolina has plenty of horses — Harrison Barnes, Kyle Zeller, and so on. But Marshall is the catalyst — and the Tar Heels’ Final Four odds go down with him on the sideline.

Midwest mayhem

Upsets provided plenty of bracket carnage all weekend. But the Midwest Region emerged Sunday as the tournament’s most topsy-turvy part of the draw. Even with No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Kansas surviving the weekend, there will be plenty of double-digit flavor in St. Louis this week. No. 11 seed North Carolina State took care of No. 3 Georgetown, and No. 13 seed Ohio edged No. 12 South Florida 62-56 in Nashville. Ohio’s victory means that junior forward Ivo Baltic, a Park Hill South graduate, is heading for St. Louis and the Sweet 16. Baltic finished with two points in 34 minutes on Sunday.

Norfolk falls

This was the team that ended Missouri’s season? This looked more like the team that fell to Division II Elizabeth City State during the regular season. No. 15 seed Norfolk State was crushed 84-50 by No. 7 seed Florida on Sunday evening in the first game in Omaha, Neb.

“When you see the scoreboard,” Norfolk State center Kyle O’Quinn said, “(and) it’s not going the way you want it, it’s tough.”

For now, the Gators have the look of a Final Four dark horse. After dumping No. 10 Virginia by 26 points in its opener, Florida has now won its two games by an average of 30 points. The Gators will take on No. 3 Marquette on Thursday in the West regional semifinals in Phoenix.

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