ONE of the most popular sporting events in America, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tipped off with several Bahamian players figuring prominently in the first two rounds.
Three Bahamian players advanced to the West Regional Semi-final, led by Buddy Hield’s standout performance.
For the second consecutive year, Hield and the West Region’s No.2 Oklahoma Sooners advanced to the “Sweet 16” following their 85-81 win over the No.10 Virginia Commonwealth University Rams.
Hield finished with 36 points and seven rebounds. He shot 11-20 from the field, 6-14 from the three point line and 8-10 from the free throw line.
It was the 11th time he broke the 30-point barrier on the season.
After a slow start where he was in foul trouble and went scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the game, he scored just seven points in the first half but exploded for 29 points in the second half.
VCU went ahead 65-63 but Hield scored eight points in the game’s final two minutes, including a pair of three pointers.
In the opening round, Hield scored 27 points and shot 57 per cent from the field in an 82-68 win over CSI Bakersfield.
Tavario Miller and the Texas A and M Aggies advanced to the Sweet 16 with one of the greatest comeback efforts in NCAA tournament history.
Playing in the West Region, the Aggies were nearly the second casualty of the 11th ranked Northern Iowa Panthers before they rallied to pull off a 92-88 win in double overtime.
Miller finished with two rebounds and one steal.
The Aggies overcame a seemingly insurmountable 10-point deficit with 30 seconds left to play in regulation, but battled back to force overtime.
In the opening round, the Aggies defeated the Green Bay Phoenix 92-65. Miller finished with points and five rebounds.
Dwight Coleby may be on the injured list during his transfer season but his overall No.1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks dominated both opening rounds to advance.
In round one they scored a 105-79 win over Austin Peay and advanced to the “Sweet 16” with a 73-61 win over the UConn Huskies.
Also in the West Region, Shaquille Cleare and the No.6 Texas Longhorns fell to the aforementioned Panthers (75-72) in heart breaking fashion, when Paul Jasperson made a half court shot at the buzzer.
In the East Region, Nathan Bain and his Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks lost in thrilling fashion, 76-75 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to end their tournament run.
In the opening round they pulled off the upset over the No.3 seed West Virginia Mountaineers 70-56.
An injury plagued season came to an end for Tum Tum Nairn and the No.2 MSU Spartans in the opening round with a bracket busting 90-81 upset loss to No.15 MTSU in the Midwest Region.
The Blue Raiders featured Bahamian player Stephen Strachan, currently a redshirt junior. The Blue Raiders lost in the round of 32 with a 75-50 loss to the No.10 Syracuse Orangemen.