On the heels of four bracket-shattering upsets in the first two days, the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is here for more madness.
Loyola Chicago pulled off the stunner of this year's tournament by ousting No. 1 seed Illinois on Sunday, but it would be incorrect to consider the No. 8 seed Ramblers a Cinderella at this point. They played far more like a Final Four – and even national title – threat in dispatching the heavily favored Illini.
Which teams advance to the tournament's second weekend and earn Sweet 16 trips? A look at the biggest winners in losers from Sunday's eight second-round games:
Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers (26-4) executed their game plan to perfection in a 71-58 upset, controlling the game's tempo from the get-go and building up a sizable lead that No. 1 seed Illinois could never dent. Cameron Krutwig (19 points, 12 rebounds, five assists) was the key catalyst, as per usual, for Loyola. The senior big man made several early buckets and spot-on passes to instill confidence in this group, and then his leadership kept the Ramblers in front as the Illini tried to counter-punch.
OPINION: Moser has Loyola-Chicago busting brackets again, but this time it's no surprise
Baylor. The No. 1 seed in the South region fended off Wisconsin's upset bid in a 76-63 win over the No. 9 seed Badgers, which gave Baylor (23-2) a decent second-round test heading into the Sweet 16. The victory illustrated how deep coach Scott Drew's team is. While usual offensive leaders Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell paced the Bears with 16 points apiece, Matthew Mayer's 17 points off the bench was a difference-maker in this hard-fought victory against a well-coached Wisconsin team.
RESULTS AND SCHEDULE: From the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament
Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) is comforted by center Kofi Cockburn (21) during their second-round to Loyola Chicago. (Photo: Alton Strupp, USA TODAY Sports)
Illinois. The Fighting Illini (24-7) were arguably the hottest team in the NCAA Tournament, having won 15 of 16, including the Big Ten Tournament, and boasting two All-Americans in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. But none of that mattered once coach Brad Underwood's talented team hit the brick wall constructed by Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser. The Ramblers' pace offset a high-octane Illinois offense and Dosunmu especially was out of rhythm, committing six turnovers and scoring just six points. It's a bitter end to an otherwise remarkable season. This team had national title potential, but now it will be watching the rest of the Dance from home.
The Big Ten. With Wisconsin's loss to Baylor, that means five of the nine teams from the country's best conference (per NET score) are now at home, including Cinderella victims No. 2 Ohio State and No. 4 Purdue. No. 1 seed Michigan, No. 2 seed Iowa and No. 10 seeds Maryland and Rutgers are the only teams still standing.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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