University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)
(1) Connecticut 72, (5) Purdue 60 - This game should have been over after the first ten minutes, but Robbie Hummel's 15 first half points and Connecticut turnovers, missed free throws, poor shot selection and an overall lack of emotion kept this game closer than it should have been.
The confident Connecticut players, leading the entire game, never seemed concerned about Purdue, even when the Boilermakers pulled to within 3 points on three different occasions. Each time, the Huskies upped the defensive intensity and worked harder for shots, instead of playing it like a shoot-around game, which they did for the most part.
Foul shooting was a troublesome area for both teams. UConn hit just 19-30; Purdue was 6-11 from the stripe. Hasheem Thabeet dominated the interior, scoring 15 points with 15 boards and 4 blocked shots. The Huskies advance, but will have to play much better, especially in terms of taking care of the rock, if they expect to win their next game.
(3) Missouri 102, (2) Memphis 91 - In the battle of Tigers, Missouri took it to Memphis in a big way. It wasn't bad enough that Missouri was going to go into the half up 10 points, but Marcus Denmon beat the buzzer from beyond half court to really put Memphis in a hole, down 49-36 at the break. J.T. Tiller led the Mizzou assault with 17 first half points.
It didn't get much better for Memphis, even though they closed to within 6 points with under a minute left, Missouri was just too aggressive on both ends of the floor. Memphis frosh Tyreke Evans scored 31 points, countered by Tiller's 25, DeMarre Carroll's 17 and Leo Lyons' 15.
Missouri will face Connecticut for a trip to the Final Four on Saturday.
TD Banknorth Garden (Boston, MA)
(1) Pittsburgh 60, (4) Xavier 55 - The Panthers got more than they bargained for from Xavier, trailing at the half, 37-29, but rallied to score the first 9 points after intermission to lead by a point. The teams exchanged leads through the half, with Xavier coming from five down to grab a 54-52 lead with 1:50 left.
Levance Fields' three-pointer with 51 seconds left, and subsequent steal and layup gave Pitt a 57-54 lead with 25 seconds to go. Xavier's Terrell Halloway made one of two free throws, but Sam Young buried a pair of foul shots to give Pitt a 4-point lead with 13 seconds left to seal the win. Young had 19 points to lead the Panthers, followed by Fields with 14 and 6 assists. DeJuan Blair scored 10 and hauled down 17 rebounds.
(3) Villanova 77, (2) Duke 54 - For a game that on paper appeared too close to call, this one turned out to be a very one-sided affair as the Wildcats put it on Duke to advance to the regional final. Villanova beat the Blue Devils in just about every imaginable way, driving repeatedly to the tin, playing intense individual and team defense which took Duke out of their normal routine and hitting the boards at both ends.
All nine player to get playing time for Villanova scored, led by Scottie Reynolds with 16 points and Dante Cunningham's 14. The Wildcats had the advantage over Duke in shooting percentage, three-pointers, free throws, assists, steals and rebounds. It was the most dominant team performance of the evening. Duke shot 28% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc (5-25).
Villanova moves on to meet fellow Big East entrant, Pitt, in the regional final on Saturday.