Indiana celebrates as the clock strikes midnight for the Cinderella VCU Rams. Photo courtesy NBCSports.com

The basketball gods must’ve realized they made a mistake allowing so many upsets on Friday because yesterday, the first day of action for the tournament’s 3rd round, the games ALL went according to chalk. However, this is not to say there weren’t some close calls.

VCU tried to make it two years in a row that they went to the Sweet Sixteen against Indiana. The Hoosiers were the only team to beat the mighty Kentucky Wildcats in the regular season and, despite losing in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten conference tournament, are a strong #4 seed. The Rams, on the other hand, were fresh off their knockout punch to Wichita State and played like they feared no one.

Indiana and VCU spent most of the game punching and counterpunching one another with runs. VCU would go on an 8-0 tear, then Indiana would answer. Then Indiana would go on a run and VCU would counter. With just minutes before the half, VCU was leading by nine when the Hoosiers went on one of these runs and the Rams lead was cut to only one by the break. In the second half, VCU once again led by as much as nine but the Hoosiers refused to go away.

With just over 12 seconds left, Indiana’s Will Sheehey hit a mid-range jumper to give the Hoosiers the lead, 63-61. VCU had only one shot to answer. To their credit, the play the drew up seemed to work perfectly. Rob Brandenburg sat open just beyond the three-point arc when the ball was kicked out to him. He sent up a prayer as time expired but it bricked off the back of the rim and Indiana advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

In the next round, Indiana will face Kentucky who handled the #8 Iowa State Cyclones from start to finish in their third round game. The Wildcats proved just how talented they are on both sides of the ball as their star player, Anthony Davis, struggled during the game but Kentucky never once let Iowa State even get a whiff of victory. The Hoosiers will have their work cut out for them next week.

The other #1 seed in action on Saturday, Syracuse, by all accounts was lucky to escape their opening game against UNC-Asheville. #8 Kansas State, who dismissed Southern Mississippi in their second round game, came in looking to upset the Orangemen.

But Syracuse played exponentially better than they did in that game against UNC-Asheville and ended up beating the Wildcats by almost 20. The Orangemen proved, even without Fab Melo, that they are still a Final Four contender.

Also in action in the East Region yesterday was Ohio State against Gonzaga and Wisconsin against Vanderbilt. Vandy, coming into the tournament with an SEC title around their waist after upsetting Kentucky, the Commodores were without a doubt going to be a real test for the higher-seeded Wisconsin Badgers.

This was another game that was neck and neck for the duration, but eventually Wisconsin pulled out the victory. As time ran down in the second half, the high octane offense of Vanderbilt launched a full-force offensive as they desperately tried to tie the game up down 60-57. But with 2.1 seconds left, Wisconsin’s stingy defense came through as Ryan Evans gobbled up a crucial rebound to seal the game.

Back in Pittsburgh, though, Gonzaga and Ohio State faced off in a battle of two teams that breezed through the second round. Despite two other #2 seeds falling, Ohio State handled Loyola just fine and ended up winning by 19. Perhaps more surprisingly, though, Gonzaga absolutely obliterated #10 West Virginia in yet another embarrassing Big East loss in the NCAA tournament. One of these two teams was going to have to budge.

And budge Gonzaga did. Ohio State came out playing exactly like the team that took Michigan State down to the wire in the Big Ten championship. They never pulled out of striking distance from the Zags, but there lead never really appeared to be threatened, either.

The other “squeaker” yesterday was another #4-#5 matchup. In the second round, New Mexico held off popular Cinderella Long Beach State to advance to a date with the Big East champions, Louisville. The Cardinals on the other hand, turned an end-of-season slide into a postseason surge. They won four games in four days to steal the Big East title and routed Davidson in their first game in the NCAA tournament.

The Lobos and Cardinals exchanged blows for the better part of forty minutes before the Louisville found themselves up only by two with less than a minute left. But about 30 seconds later, Gorgui Dieng slammed home a dunk to double that lead. Moments later, Peyton Siva sunk a pair of free-throws to extend it to six. New Mexico ended up hitting one last three but it was too little too late. The Cardinals have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

Elsewhere, actually IN Louisville, the Cardinals’ Big East rival Marquette decisively fended off the one-loss Murray State Racers. Despite some poor tournament performance by Big East squads, Marquette appears to be a Final Four force not to be reckoned with, especially with Missouri now out of the picture.

Lastly, Baylor walloped the surprising Cinderella Buffaloes of Colorado over in the South Region. The Pac-12 champions are sent home just shy of making the Sweet Sixteen in their inaugural season in the conference.

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When Bryan isn’t studying bracketology, he is on twitter! Follow him @bclienesch!