7. Michigan State Spartans vs. 3. Kansas State Wildcats
An easy candidate for game of the year the Michigan State Spartans and Kansas State Wildcats did not disappoint. Kansas State won in overtime 98-93.
In the second half, Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell turned his ankle and was carried off the court. While Nowell was out Michigan State would take the lead. Nowell came back in and tied the game with a bank shot 3-pointer and that was just the beginning. Neither team led by more than seven points in the last 15 minutes of regulation. Nowell steadied the Kansas State offense, he found Ismael Massoud for three pushing their lead to 80-75 with 1:04 left in regulation.
Michigan State’s Tyson Walker had 16 including the game-tying layup at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Michigan State jumped out in front to lead the game but Kansas State was not going away.
Nowell had one of the best assists the game has ever seen, fake arguing with his coach and throwing an alley-oop from near half-court to Keyontae Johnson. Johnson slipped behind the defense and elevated with his back to the basket and slammed it down. The alley-oop gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
Markquis Nowell and Jerome Tang were calling two separate plays when Nowell noticed Keyontae Johnson in the corner of his eye and threw the lob 🤯— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 24, 2023
(h/t @RJ_Writes) pic.twitter.com/o7NCoUkN9T
Michigan State cut the lead to one before Nowell inbounded the ball under the basket to Massoud for a mid-range jumper putting the Wildcats up 96-93 with 17 seconds left.
On the next possession, Michigan State needed a three to tie, Nowell stole the ball and drove it to the basket with a game-sealing layup to win.
Nowell was the difference in the game and the reason Kansas State won. He had 20 points and set an NCAA tournament record with 19 assists and five steals. His performance sent social media into a frenzy.
EVERYBODY is talking about Markquis Nowell 🔥#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/e0hFZ99E0c— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 24, 2023
9. Florida Atlantic Owls vs. 4. Tennessee Volunteers
Florida Atlantic is going to the Elite 8 for the first time in school history after knocking off Tennessee 62-55.
Tennessee has the No.1 ranked defense in the country, according to KemPom metrics. They made FAU work for their shots and it took them a while before they started dropping.
Michael Forrest hit consecutive 3s to put FAU up 41-39 with 9:49 left, giving them the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. Forrest had an 8-0 run to himself putting FAU up by four.
While FAU went on their run Tennessee couldn’t buy a basket. They would go six minutes where they only scored four points.
Tennessee had one push left in them, Josiah-Jordan James hit a 3 with 3:33 left cutting into FAU’s lead 55-50. FAU turned up their defense and got a key stop that led to a layup growing their lead to seven with 2:31 left.
FAU would put the game away with free throws. They held Tennessee to 33% shooting from the field and held them to 6 of 23 from three-point range. FAU’s greatest season continues as they play Kansas State for a chance in the Final Four in Houston.