Each region throughout March Madness had some sort of uniqueness. The South had 11 seed Michigan going to the Sweet 16, the East had the best Cinderella Story in the history of the tournament (Saint Peters), and the West had Coach K keeping his Last Dance alive. The Midwest, though, provided a ton of entertainment.
After upsetting 1 seed Davidson to win the Atlantic 10 conference, people began to take note of the high-flying Richmond offense. Led by guard Jacob Gilyard, the Spiders had all the confidence heading into a first round matchup against Big 10 champs Iowa. Throughout the game, you could tell that this Richmond team was disciplined. With 6 five-year players, they knew how to calm down in the toughest moments. Not only did Richmond’s offense stay consistent, but they held a tough Hawkeye team to just 63 points.
We can credit Richmond for holding Iowa to just 20.9% from beyond the arc, but it can go a step farther. Jordan Bohannon got just 8 shot attempts up, and connected on just two of them. The Spiders aren’t even a particularly big team, either. The Spiders ended up proving the hype to be worthy as they would move onto the second round to face Providence. Everything went wrong for them in this game. No offense, and a complete collapse on defense.
Iowa State Cyclones
Aside from St. Peters, the Iowa State Cyclones might have had one of the best turnarounds from last season. To put things into perspective, they won the same amount of games in the tournament as they did the entire 2020-21 season. They weren’t a primary spot for any recruits to go to, but they had each other, which was all that mattered. They had a roller coaster ride throughout the year, sneaking into the top 15, winning 13 of their first 14. They then would lose 5 of 7 in conference play, but these weren’t the same Cyclones.
Ending the regular season on a high note, ISU had high hopes heading into the Big 12 Tournament, where it was a “second home” for them in KC. They got completely outplayed by a strong Texas Tech team, but had a really good chance at making the tourney, which they eventually did. Beating a messy LSU team in the first round was a huge momentum booster heading into round 2 to face Big 10 powerhouse Wisconsin. Minnesota transfer Gabe Kalscheur led the Cyclones to their biggest upset in a long, long, time. They went to the Sweet 16 with a lot of reason to believe the Cinderella was them. That was, until their woes on offense came to haunt them against the Hurricane. Kameron McGusty and Miami were too fast-paced for Iowa State, ending their incredible season. Cyclone fans definitely have a lot to look forward to.
There are a lot of words to describe just how consistent this Miami team stayed through the season. Humble and resilient, just to name a couple. Led by Oklahoma transfer Kameron McGusty, this group showed how age diversity can be effective. Being down in many games early on, Coach Jon Larranaga was able to utilize his bench to the max.
Entering the tournament as a 10 seed, Miami knew it was going to be a tough climb from the Round of 64 on. Against USC, pressure kept the Trojans on their heels the entire game, panicking in the clutches of situations. Fast forward to the second round of Auburn, a tall task awaited in Jabari Smith. We all thought that the Hurricanes would try to stop everyone but Smith, as he was virtually unstoppable throughout the season. That being said, they decided to see how Smith reacted to their intensity, and it ended up paying off. The future lottery pick shot just under 20% on 16 shots, giving the Hurricanes a ticket to the Sweet 16.
Going up against Iowa State, guys like Jordan Miller were needed to give Miami a variety of options offensively. Going 6-6 from the floor, Miller made it look easy with his catch and shoot opportunities. It was another solid defensive performance throughout the entire game for Miami, forcing turnovers left and right, and holding ISU to under 50% shooting to get the double-digit win. In the elite eight, it was a clear tale of inconsistency. We hadn’t seen that bad of a performance from Miami in a while, especially considering how well they challenged the Jayhawks in the first half. There was a genuine belief that the Hurricanes were gonna find a way to go to New Orleans, but just ran out of gas in the second half. Getting outscored by 32, Miami had to accept their fate midway through the second half, giving Kansas the upper edge. Regardless, this program has a lot to look forward to, especially with Coach K retiring.