Three teams pulled off upsets Monday—the biggest of which went to No. 11 seeded Missouri State over Iowa State—while the Pac-12 advanced four teams to the Sweet 16 and Stanford-commit Fran Belibi wins a dunk contest on Day 4 of the NCAA women's tournament.
The Sweet 16 is set and now we are bereft of college basketball for a few days so it’s a good thing we got some awesome finishes to send us into the break. Basketball is the gift that keeps on giving and on Monday we received another coach getting down after her team secured a trip to the Sweet 16, a true Cinderella story to root for in the next round and a reminder that—despite two of the conference’s teams being eliminated—the Pac-12 is making its case as one of the best conferences in the tournament.
Points of Interest
Kristine Anigwe vs. Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox was fun for a quarter or two but Baylor ultimately played Cal out of the tournament. Baylor’s dynamic inside duo looked downright dominant (again) defensively—Brown got five blocks—and further solidified their case as a bonafide national championship threat.
But the bigs weren’t the only ones eating Monday, with the Bears two guards carrying the scoring load. Juicy Landrum paced the team with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three, and Chloe Jackson dropping 18. Baylor had an incredibly balanced offense Monday with 11 players getting onto the scoresheet in a game in which the team scored 102 points while holding Cal to 63 points.
With their dominance on both sides of the ball, it’s going to be interesting to see what Dawn Staley and South Carolina cook up in the next round to try and throw them off their game.
Y’all, Michaela Onyenwere is a problem. The sophomore was downright dominant Monday, scoring 30 points on 52% shooting and further showcasing Maryland’s inability to deal with imposing bigs after the Terps gave up 45 points to Megan Gustafson in the Big Ten tournament title game. Onyenwere, with Kennedy Burke and Japreece Dean, put on a show against Maryland and combined for 71 points and booked the team’s fourth straight Sweet 16 appearance. Not bad for what was looked at by many as a rebuilding year.
Can the team replicate what it did last year and get to the Elite Eight? Only if they can get past the mighty UConn Huskies and Napheesa Collier, who seems to be taking her exclusion from the Naismith finalists list out on anyone unlucky enough to get in her way.
It was a good night to have a Bear as a mascot Monday—unless you’re Cal—as Missouri State held off multiple comeback attempts by the No. 3 seeded Iowa State Cyclones to crash the Sweet 16. The Lady Bears had already pulled off one of the upsets of the tournament in the first round after taking down No. 6 seed DePaul and haven’t looked back since. Now the program advances to its first Sweet 16 since 2001 after shooting a lights-out 39% from three in the win. If Missouri State can keep up its hot shooting, we could get a treat when it plays Stanford.
Honorary upset shoutout to South Dakota State, whose upset of Syracuse gave the Jackrabbits their first-ever Sweet 16 bid. South Dakota State hasn’t lost a game since Jan. 6 and will look to halt Sabrina Ionescu and the Oregon Ducks’ run in the tournament. The last time the two teams played, Oregon won by eight.
Best Thing I Saw
Fran Belibi isn’t a college basketball player yet, but that won’t stop me from hyping this video as much as possible. Internet trolls are going to need to find a new hill to die on. Also, the Cardinal, who survived an early scare from BYU on Monday, are going to be very scary with Belibi and No. 1 recruit Haley Jones coming to Stanford next season. Get used to seeing this quite a bit, Cardinal fans.
With no games to watch in the coming days, I’ll leave you all with this. I will always push coaches dancing videos. Always. And when that dancing video comes because the lower-seeded Bruins are on the way to the Sweet 16? Yeah, I have to pick it. Go off, coach Close!