Showing posts with label NCAA Tournament. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NCAA Tournament. Show all posts

Monday, March 27, 2017

Luke Maye's Buzzer-Beater Sends Tar Heels Over Kentucky And On To Final Four

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 26, 2017

Luke Maye played just 20 minutes in North Carolina's 75-73 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament South Regional final, but he made every minute of his time on the court count, especially in the final seconds of the game.

After Malik Monk tied the score at 73 with a miraculous three-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to play, North Carolina's Theo Pinson drove the length of the court and into the lane, pitching the ball to Maye, who was stationed on the three point line to the left for the basket.

Without hesitation, Maye let fly and swished the game-winner with 0.3 seconds remaining, sending North Carolina to the Final Four for the 20th time in the program's storied history.

Maye and his teammates celebrated on the court in Memphis, seeking redemption for last season's last-second loss to Villanova for the national championship.

The final shot was not the only contribution made by the 6'8" sophomore forward. Maye was mostly on target uring his various stints on the court, going 6-for-9 from the field for 17 points, including making two of three three-pointers and all three of his free throw attempts. He also added three rebounds, two assists and had a steal.

His point total was second to teammate Justin Jackson, who tallied 19, but was only 7-for-17. Kennedy Meeks was a major force under the rim, scoring seven points while hauling in 17 boards and blocking four shots in 32 minutes. Maye's accuracy and heady presence were critical to the Tar Heels prevailing, especially when everything was on the line in the closing seconds.

North Carolina heads to Glendale, Arizona, site of the NCAA Tournament Final Four, to face the Oregon Ducks, the #3 seed from the West region, making its first appearance in the Final Four since winning the tournament in 1939.

In the other regional final on Sunday, 7th-seeded South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four in the school's history, defeating #4 Florida, 77-70, in the East Regional, an all-SEC classic.

Sindarius Thornwell led all scorers with 26 points as the Gamecocks rallied from seven points down at the half. South Carolina faces the #1 seed from the West, Gonzaga, also making its first trip to the Final Four.

Both Saturday games are slated for broacast coverage on CBS, starting with the Gamecocks and Bulldogs at 6:09 pm ET. The North Carolina-Oregon match-up should tip at or around 8:49 pm ET.

College Basketball Daily will keep the hoops juices flowing during the week leading up to the National Semi-Final games in Arizona.

Here's a peek at the upcoming daily schedule:

Tuesday: Statistical Breakdown of Final Four Teams
Wednesday: Key players, situations, strategies...
Thursday: East-West National Semi-Final Preview
Friday: South-Midwest National Semi-Final Preview

NCAA Tournament Conference Scoreboard
Through Sunday (3/26) Games
Conference (# of teams) Record Winners (# of Wins)
ACC (9) 9-8 Notre Dame (1), Florida St. (1), Virginia (1), Louisville (1), Duke (1), North Carolina (4)
Big East (7) 6-7 Villanova (1), Butler (2), Xavier (3)
Big Ten (7) 8-7 Purdue (2), Wisconsin (2), Northwestern (1), Michigan (2), Michigan State (1)
Big 12 (6) 9-6 Kansas State (1), West Virginia (2), Iowa St. (1), Kansas (3), Baylor (2)
SEC (5) 11-4* Florida (3), Arkansas (1), Kentucky (3), South Carolina (4)
PAC 12 (4) 10-3 USC (2), Arizona (2), Oregon (4), UCLA (2)
Atlantic 10 (3) 1-3 Rhode Island (1)
American (2) 1-2 Cincinnati (1)
West Coast (2) 5-1 Gonzaga (4), St. Mary's (1)
All Others (23) (4-23) Mt. St. Mary's (1), UC Davis (1), Middle Tennessee (1), Wichita State (1)

*One SEC loss and one SEC win occurred in the same game, the East Regional Final, South Carolina 77, Florida 70

Friday, March 20, 2015

NCAA Round of 64 Late Thursday Game Results; ACC, Big East, PAC-12 Unbeaten After Day One

Round of 64 Late Thursday Game Results

East Region

(1) Villanova 93 (16) Lafayette 52

(8) NC State 66 (9) LSU 65

Midwest Region

(8) Cincinnati 66 (9) Purdue 65 - Cincinnati lived very dangerously here, tying the game on a layup at the buzzer in regulation and winning it in overtime by the narrowest of margin.

(1) Kentucky 79 (16) Hampton 50 - The Wildcats certainly didn't let down their fans, running away from the Pirates after building a 41-22 score at the half.

West Region

(4) North Carolina 67 (13) Harvard 65 - This was much closer than the Tar Heels would have liked. In fact, Harvard hoisted a three-pointer as time ran out that could have reversed the outcome, but, fortune fell on North Carolina, surviving barly their first tournament challenge.

(5) Arkansas 56 (12) Wofford 53

South Region

(5) Utah 57 (12) Stephen F. Austin 50 - many a TV pundit picked this as the upset for the first day, but they were proven wrong.

(4) Georgetown 74 (13) Eastern Washington 64

Conference Power Scoreboard
Conference W-L Winners (#of Ws)
ACC 4-0 Notre Dame (1), NC State (1), North Carolina (1), Arkansas (1)
Big East 4-0 Butler (1), Xavier (1), Villanova (1), Georgetown
Big Ten 1-1 Ohio State (1)
Big 12 0-3 0000
Pac-12 3-0 UCLA (1), Arizona (1), Utah (1)
SEC 2-2 Ole Miss (1), Kentucky
All Others 6-13 Hampton(1), Robert Morris (1), Dayton (1), UAB (1), Georgia St. (1), Cincinnati (1)

Monday, March 16, 2015

2015 Non-essential, Indeterminate Guide to Surviving NCAA Bracket Pools

Quite possibly, more time is wasted and more work hours spent in an unproductive manner on filling out brackets for the NCAA tournament every year than by any other outside influence.

No event captures the imagination and gaming instincts of the American public (an easy group to engage) like the annual rite of March Madness, but, in the end, almost everybody goes home a loser, while some overfed, testosterone-overdosed moron in the office or workspace lauds his or her game-picking prowess over the unfortunate few who suffer the fool.

Remember, Kentucky wins.
Not that there may or may not be a science to correctly picking four (the First Four), 32, then 16, then 8, 4, 2 and finally one game correctly. Some people actually make a living at it, like ESPN's Joe Lunardi, often referred to as the bracket guru or tournament maestro, though it would be interesting to tally up how many of Joe's predictions actually pan out. At the very least, Joe Lunardi has emerged far enough into the American psyche that he now has his very own drinking game, played during ESPN's Championship Week.

It's an easy game. Watch games on ESPN. Any time Joe Lunardi is mentioned by name (often), drink. Guaranteed to please.

Beyond the obvious need to engage in picking winners, without further ado, College Basketball Daily presents its first - and maybe last - guide to picking your brackets without losing your mind, a lot of money or your personal dignity.

The 2015 edition of the NCAA tournament is pretty easy to break down. Kentucky will win it all. Simple enough, right? Just take Kentucky all the way through and you're guaranteed to end up in the winner's circle of your office pool or Calcutta... along with about a zillion other players. So, our advice is neither prescient nor the stuff of genius, though it is an indefatigable prescription for being right on six games, all of which will be won by the Wildcats.

After those six nearly-guaranteed winners, there are only 61 games remaining to pick. Nothing to it. We'll give you some tips and pointers along the way which will make some sense and maybe produce a plurality of winners.

Tip #1: Take conference champions over at-large teams. Simply put, teams who captured automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments (except for Harvard in the Ivy League, where they have no post-season tournament, though the Crimson did win a one-game playoff over Yale) are battle tested in single-elimination competition. That said, the selection committee was a little hard to read when they made Iowa State and Notre Dame - winners of the Big 12 and ACC tournaments, respectively - #3 seeds, while making Duke, which didn't even win the ACC regular season (Virginia did) and was eliminated in the semi-final by Notre Dame, a #1 seed. The other three #1 seeds - Kentucky, Villanova and Wisconsin - all won their conference tourneys, so what gives? Yet another reason to hate Duke.

Tip #2: Low-number seeds over high-number seeds, 1 through 4. The parlance used in terms of seeds can become confusing. Somebody might say Louisville is seeded higher than Iowa, for instance, but what that actually means is that Louisville is a #4, while Iowa is a #7. Confusing? No. Reverse logic. Simply put, take the #1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds in each region over their opponents in the opening round, unless advised otherwise. We'll get to that in the region-by-region breakdown.

Tip #3: Upsets are common in 7-10 and 5-12 match-ups. #11 seeds don't often beat #6's, and 8's vs. 9's are toss-ups, though sometimes mismatches.

Tip #4: After the opening round games on Thursday and Friday of the first week, it's wide open. - Anybody can win once they've gotten through the first game, but, odds are the lower-number (higher) seeds will survive. Some teams will surely surprise, but those are often teams which won their conference tournaments or teams from big conferences that lost in the final.

Tip #5: Don't listen to experts. Whether it's some guy on a talk-radio show, ESPN or the reigning champion of your office pool, who has done nithing but drink beer and watch basketball for the past two months, they will almost always give bad advice. All. The. Time. A good example was whether or not UCLA would be in this year's tournament. All the experts said, "no way." we said, "absolutely," our reasoning being that we figured the PAC-12 would send four teams to the tourney. We're not experts, and, lo and behold, we were right.

Tip #6: If you don't do well, don't worry about it. A lot of what goes into picking winners in the NCAA tournament has to do with dumb luck, voodoo, i-Ching, tarot cards, tea leaves, astrology and alchemy. Most of it is bunk. You're a good person, and you might even be a smart person. Just because Kansas loses to Northern Iowa or some other malady of fate occurs, doesn't change who you are. Unless you're a complete loser whose entire existence revolves around being right or this particular tournament, of course, then losing might cause some disturbing personal reactions, like not bathing for a couple of weeks, or throwing your TV out a window (this has happened), or not showing up for work, which might actually be a silver lining to both your boss and your co-workers.

Tip #7: After the second weekend, it can get really boring, really fast. The first two weekends are exciting, with games on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and lots of teams involved. By Saturday and Sunday of the second weekend, however, it's down to the Elite Eight - and, while those games are usually some of the most exciting of the tournament, being regional finals, the winner going to the Final Four, after that, there are only three games left, and they're a week away, the semi-finals on Saturday and the National Championship, Monday night.

That week can get tiresome, especially if you've already been eliminated in your pool, and even moreso if a couple of guys are making everyone else crazy arguing over who's going to get that $136 final prize. Whether you're still alive or not, get some fresh air, do some yard work, take a bike ride. Ferchistsake! It's a basketball tournament. Get a life, or, get yours back.

Now that we have the tips out of the way, on to the breakdown.

Let's start with those pesky First Four games on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Tuesday's games are:
6:40 PM (16) Hampton vs (16) Manhattan - Hampton is the only team in the tournament with a losing record (16-17), despite winning the Mid-Eastern tournament. Did you know that they beat Delaware St. to get the automatic bid? No? Nobody else does either and nobody cares. Manhattan beat Sienna to win the Metro-Atlantic. And they won by 10 points. And they're called the Jaspers, defined as an opaque reddish-brown variety of chalcedony. Cool. They are the pick.

9:10 PM (11) BYU vs (11) Ole Miss - BYU can really light up the scoreboard. Good enough. Both of these teams were at-large selections. Cougars maul Rebels. Excellent.

6:40 PM (16) Robert Morris vs (16) North Florida - Both are tournament winners with automatic bids, North Florida from the Atlantic Sun, Robert Morris from the Northeast. North Florida's team name is the Ospreys. Good enough. You'll look like a genius.

9:10 PM (11) Dayton vs (11) Boise State - Dayton lost to VCU in the Atlantic 10 final. Take a flyer on the Flyers. But, shouldn't it be spelled fliers? Never mind. They'll probably lose in the next round.

OK, since everybody figures the Wildcats will be crowned national champions come April 6, the Midwest region where Kentucky is the #1 seed and the #1 overall seed in the tournament starts the region-by-region breakdown.

Midwest Region

You've already penciled in Kentucky, right? For the remainder, follow our tips, which means #12 Buffalo (MAC champs) over #5 West Virginia (at-large) is the main upset. After Kentucky, the 2, 3, and 4 seeds should all win. In the 6-11 match-up, Butler (6) should handle Texas (11). Wichita State and Indiana, that's a toss-up. Flip a coin. And, #9 Purdue should handle #8 Cincinnati.

After the opening round, keep to our tips and keep this in mind. Kansas lost in their conference tournament. They are not that good and could conceivably lose either of their first two games. Notre Dame won their's. If they meet, the Irish will move forward ad probably lose to Kentucky in the regional final.

West Region

OK, now it gets interesting, because the #1 seed, Wisconsin, may not get through to the Final Four. They might, but #2 Arizona, #3 Baylor and #4 North Carolina all look pretty darn good.

In the opening round, #7 VCU should oust #10 Ohio State. The winner of the BYU-Ole Miss game gets #6 Xavier on Thursday night and could easily upset. Oregon (8) over Oklahoma State (9) and #12 Woffard will give #5 Arkansas a heck of a time. That's a key game, but Arkansas is likely to pull through.

After the opening round, this region looks pretty chalky and could easily end up with the top four seeds. In that case, Wisconsin will likely get past North Carolina and Arizona should beat Baylor. Arizona is a very good choice to win this region. They won the PAC-12 tournament and the PAC-12 isn't getting much respect.

East Region

Winners of the Big East, Villanova, the #1 seed, looks vulnerable, but the competition in this region is weak. This could be the one that blows up. The 8-9 game, NC State vs. LSU is a pure toss-up, as is the 5-12 game, Northern Iowa and Wyoming. Both won their conference tournaments, but Wyoming might be the ultimate sleeper pick. Might not, but, if they win, you'll look awesome... for about a day.

Providence, the 6 seed, could be awesome, but they may fall to the winner of the play-in game, Boise St. or Dayton. Michigan State got in as a 7, and they look good for at least a win, but they'll probably lose to Virginia in the next round. Also, #4 Louisville has trouble scoring at times and UC-Irvine won the Big West. Could be the upset of the weekend. Any combination could end up in the regionals, but stick with #2 Virginia. One could take Villanova, Virginia, UC-Irvine, Oklahoma, Providence or Michigan State to make the Final Four. This is wide open.

South Region

Duke got the #1 seed in this region and should make it through the first weekend without a problem. After that, Utah could beat them, or, either (2) Gonzaga or (3) Iowa State in the regional final, should knock them out. But, they're good, and they're Duke, but, you don't really want to pick Duke, do you?

As usual, the 8-9 (San Diego St. vs. St. John's) game is unpickable. #5 Utah is a good sleeper in this region, as is #10 Davidson. #11 UCLA should slip by SMU, but they'll lose to a very strong Iowa State team, winners of the Big 12 tournament.

Georgetown is the weakest #4 team in the tournament. #13 Eastern Washington (Big Sky champions) could get them. If not, Utah surely will in the following round.

#2 Gonzaga is one of just three teams that could beat Kentucky, though that's a questionable call. The other two are Notre Dame and Arizona.

Final Four: Midwest plays West, East plays South. Whichever team comes out of the South region will beat the East region representative, which means, either Gonzaga, Iowa State, or, heaven forbid, Duke, could meet the Wildcats in the Final. Arizona could upset Kentucky, but not likely.

Kentucky wins. Didn't we say that already?

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness: NCAA Tournament Observations

Just some off-the-cuff commentary on the field of 68 set on Sunday for the NCAA Men's National Basketball Championship:

Oregon, despite winning the PAC-12 tournament was seeded #12 in the Midwest, while UCLA (which the Ducks beat in the tourney final) and Arizona received 6-seeds.

CBS, on their tournament seeding show Sunday evening, flashed "Weakest Region" on the West, which includes top-seeded Gonzaga, #2 Ohio State, #3 New Mexico and #4 Kansas State along with #5 Wisconsin and Notre Dame, seeded 7th. The truth of the matter is that the West is far and away the most competitive of the regions, not even close to the weakest, which would likely be either the South (Kansas #1, Georgetown #2, Florida #3) or the Midwest, which has the woeful Duke squad implanted at #2 and Louisville, #1. The best team in the that region might be the aforementioned Oregon, or #4 St. Louis, champions of the Atlantic 10 (regular season and tournament), #3 Michigan State or #7 Creighton, out of the Missouri Valley.

Miami, which won both the regular season and conference tourney in the ACC, was posted as a #2, in the East region, on a collision course with #1 Indiana. Various bodies on the selection committee must have liked Kansas better than the Hurricanes, or preferred Duke, because, in reality, the Hurricanes got a raw deal, though they will likely waltz through their sub-region.

In the play-in games, there are actually two different flavors. The winner of the North Carolina A&T-Liberty meeting is nothing but cannon fodder for Louisville, as is the LIU-Brooklyn-James Madison match-up, the winner of which will certainly fall to Indiana.

The other two are more compelling, as Middle Tennessee plays St. Mary's (a solid game), the winner advancing to the second round against Memphis, the Conference USA champion which has proven, thus far, nothing. Look for an upset, with Memphis taking it on the chin. Boise State plays LaSalle in the other play-in, the victor moving on to a round two meeting with Kansas State, another vulnerable team. At least the tournament committee has created some excitement in expanding the field and getting teams from smaller conferences.

Key second round games include all of the 8-9 match-ups, which could actually be called toss-ups. Try picking between Missouri and Colorado State in the Midwest, NC State and Temple in the East, Pitt and Wichita State (take the Shockers) in the West, or North Carolina and Villanova (leaning toward the Tar Heels) in the South.

Bracket busters appear all across the landscape. While there's likely little chance that a #1 seed will fall in their opening game, it's bound to happen some time. The best shot at it this year would be Western Kentucky, a team with plenty of experience and tournament savvy (they won four straight games to get in, for the second year in a row, out of the Sun Belt) against the #1 seed in the South, Kansas.

A number of people have mentioned Florida Gulf Coast, the Atlantic Sun champion, as a possible winner over #2 Georgetown in the South, though only because they've been noticed, their chances are diminished.

Sorry, Duke haters, but Albany is not going to knock off Duke, though seven-seed Creighton might in the following round. If the Blue Devils advance to the regionals, look for either Michigan State or Valparaiso to end their 2013 tournament in a hurry. The third round game between Michigan State and Valpo could be a good one to watch as well, and a Spartan win is by no means guaranteed. A 3-seed has fallen to a 14 in each of the last four tournaments, a trend which fits the Valpo-Michigan state scenario.

In the East, #14 Davidson could easily top #3 Marquette. The Golden Eagles were knocked out of the Big East tourney early on and are over-seeded at #3.

Sorry, Ivy Leaguers, but #14 Harvard isn't going to get past #3 New Mexico in the West.

Syracuse, another overseed victim at #4 in the East, may have problems with #13 Montana. As it is, Syracuse is still searching for identity, especially after the 56-point explosion by Louisville in the second half of the Big East final. They, like Michigan and Michigan State, are enigmas which could be gone early or proceed possibly to an unlikely Final Four.

Streakers: The highest-quality streak coming in belongs to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have won eight straight, including the Big Ten championship with a final win over Wisconsin (the team which last beat them, on February 17), a semi-final win over Michigan State, and regular season wins over Indiana and the Spartans. They are the #2 seed in the rough West region, but any slip up could derail their championship run.

In any case the Buckeyes are hailing from the region which just may produce the overall champion, be it themselves, New Mexico or Gonzaga, the top seed.

The longest streak coming in belongs to Davidson, regular season and tourney champs of the Southern League, at 17 straight, which spells real trouble for Marquette. Interestingly, their closest game during their winning run was a 93-87 overtime win against Montana, at home, no less. Look out, Syracuse.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NCAA Tourney: Handicapping the Play-in Games; Road Map to Final Four

Four play-in games - kindly hooked with the moniker "First Four" by the NCAA spin-masters - will usher in the 2012 NCAA tournament, and while many bracket contests don't require actual picks for these games, some do, and, let's not forget that one of the play-in teams from last season - VCU - made it all the way to the Final Four, so these games could be important.

Game 1 (March 13, 6:40 pm ET): Mississippi Valley Delta Devils (21-12) vs. Western Kentucky (15-18) - Both teams are long shots to win anything other than this game because the winner faces #1 Kentucky in the South region in the next round. Current betting line has the Hilltoppers by three points over the Delta Devils, who have a wealth of NCAA experience behind them with 22 NCAA appearances dating back to 1940. Conversely, Mississippi Valley State will be playing in just their fifth tourney, the most recent appearance in 2006. They are 0-4 all-time in the NCAAs.

However, the Delta Devils are a red hot team at this juncture, having won the SWAC outright with a 15-1 record and then taking the conference tourney with three straight wins. After a 1-11 start, nobody gave these guys much attention, but they played avery tough non-conference schedule with losses to Notre Dame, North Carolina, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Florida and Iowa State among others. Their 22-1 record against their SWAC foes has them ready for this match-up and they should prevail.

Game 2 (March 13, 9:10 pm ET): BYU Cougars (25-8) vs. Iona Gaels (25-7) - BYU is a 2-point favorite here with the winning moving on to face Marquette in the West region. The Gaels were something of a surprise selection, having been bounced from their conference tourney by Fairfield after winning the regular season with a 15-3 record, though they are the #1 team in the field in scoring (83.3 ppg), assists (19.3), third in field goal percentage (.567) and sixth in 3-point shooting (.393).

BYU is a solid opponent, finishing third in the WCC behind St. Mary's and Gonzaga, though their only quality win was an 83-73 win over Gonzaga on February 2. If Iona plays their game and point guard Scott Machado distributed the ball well, the Gaels will be a tough out, not only for the Cougars, but for Marquette, next up.

Game 3 (March 14, 6:30 pm ET): Vermont Catamounts (23-11) vs. Lamar Cardinals (23-11) - A 3 1/2 point favorite, Lamar is one of the less-well-known teams in the tourney, coming out as the Southland conference champions. Neither of these teams can expect much with a win, except to be bludgeoned by North Carolina in the Midwest conference. Lamar is pretty shaky with an 8-9 road record and their longest win streak of the season capped at four. The Catamounts will give them plenty to handle, especially from one-man-gang, Brian Voelkel, who leads the team in rebounds, assists and steals.

Vermont won 10 in a row down the stretch and 13 of their last 14, took the America East Tourney with a win over regular season champ, Stony Brook and appear as poised as any 16 could be.

Game 4 (March 14, 9:10 pm ET): South Florida Bulls (20-13) vs. California Golden Bears (24-9) - This will be a solid game, as it is for a #12 seed in the Midwest and the winner could advance past a shaky Temple team in the next round. While Cal is the designer pick as a 2 1/2 point favorite, South Florida has the kind of team that could produce multiple upsets in the tourney. The Bulls are not flashy, but they do play great defense, whereas Cal played in the shadowy PAC-12, finishing second behind Washington and losing in the conference final to Colorado, their second straight double-digit loss to the Buffs, the only other PAC-12 team in the tourney.

Looks like a quick exit for the dancing Bears, who may not get their offense untracked against the raging Bulls.

Road Map to the Final Four

Of all the #1 seeds - Kentucky, Syracuse, Michigan State and North Carolina - the Tar Heels seem to have the easiest path to reach New Orleans unscathed, especially if they have big John Henson back from the wrist injury that sidelined him in the ACC tournament. All indications that the big swatter will be a go when they toss it up on Friday night in Greensboro, practically a home game for the Carolinians.

Taking a look at the other regions before getting back to North Carolina, there are potential minefields for the three other #1s. In the East, where Syracuse got the top nod, the Orange could find trouble as early as their second game, presumably against a very physical and strong-rebounding Kansas State squad. Further along they may have either Vanderbilt, a real trouble-maker, or Wisconsin, with three-point shooters that can nullify the Orange zone defense. If they get to their regional final, take your pick from Cincinnati (who beat them in the Big East tourney), Ohio State, Florida State or Gonzaga. Any of them could pull off an upset.

In the West, #1 Michigan should get past LIU-Brooklyn, but then may run into Memphis, the Conference-USA champion and a very overlooked entity. After that, maybe Louisville or New Mexico, also an unknown quantity. But, if the Spartans reach their regional final, they could face Florida, Marquette or most likely, Missouri, who can beat anyone in the field, as they proved throughout the season. Good luck with Michigan State getting to New Orleans.

Down South, Kentucky will probably have to defeat a rugged Iowa State squad, who may surprise the overrated Huskies from UConn. Even if UConn beats the Cyclones, they too could prove a tough out. On the other side of the sub-regional draw is #12 VCU, #5 Wichita State, #4 Indiana and #13 New Mexico State. The Hooisers beat Kentucky earlier in the season and the match-up is a natural rivalry. VCU may have the best defensive five in the tournament and they lead all entrants in steals at 10.68 per game. The regional final may actually be easier for Kentucky, though either Baylor or Duke should emerge from that side. Baylor is as good as it gets, and Duke, well, they're Duke.

That leads us back to the Midwest and North Carolina. First, two of the spots in their sub-region will be occupied by winners of the "First Four" play-in games, and there's no real competition outside of Creighton on their side of the draw. Other the opposite side of the region are Purdue, North Carolina State, #2 Kansas and Georgetown, but the sleeper is that the Jayhawks have a very tough Detroit squad in their opening game, and could be upset. If Kansas does get through, the Tar Heels should win with superior depth and talent. They appear to be the one team with a road map that doesn't include a lot of dead ends, potholes and road-blocks.

Tomorrow: Some select picks for opening round games, now called the second round by the tourney people. Please. How do they come up with this stuff? The play-in games should be called "play-in games" and the opening round for 64 teams, the first round. Get it?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Round of 64 Results and Recaps - Late Games


Florida 79 UC-Santa Barbara 51 - Chandler Parsons scored 10 points, had 10 assists and seven rebounds as the Gators rolled to an easy win. Ten different players Gators scored as coach Billy Donovan emptied his bench late.

BYU 74 Wofford 66 - The Cougars proved a bit too fierce for the Terriers. Jimmer Fredette scored 32 points for BYU, the highest point total of the first day.
Wisconsin 72 Belmont 58 - Jon Leuer scored 22 points and Jordan Taylor had 21 to push the Badgers to the next round.

UCLA 78 Michigan State 76 - The Bruins built a 24-point lead only to give most of it away as Michigan State fought back in the second half. UCLA will face #2 seed Florida on Saturday.

Gonzaga 86 St. John's 71 - Gonzaga broke open a close game early on and kept the Red Stom at bay, cruising to a surprisingly easy first round win. Marquise Carter poured in 24 points for the Zags. Seeded surprisingly low at #11, Gonzaga faces #13 BYU in the next round.

Kansas State 73 Utah State 68 - Utah State's Tai Wesley got into early foul trouble and the Wildcats took advantage, building a working lead and staying safely ahead of the the Aggies. Jacob Pullen fought through flu-like symptoms to top the scorer's sheet with 22 points.


Connecticut 81 Bucknell 52 - Connecticut opened a big lead early, coasting to an easy opening round win. Kemba Walker led all scorers with 18 points, to go with 12 assists and 8 rebounds.

Cincinnati 78 Missouri 63 - Yancey Gates led all scorers with 18 points and ripped down 11 rebounds to lead the Bearcats over the Tigers. Gates was 7-for-8 from the floor, including 2-for-2 on three-pointers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Buzzer Beaters and Bracket Busters: Round of 64 Results, Early Games


West Virginia 84 Clemson 76 - the Mountaineers trailed early but rallied and led most of the second half, cruising to the win. They will face Kentucky in the next round.

Kentucky 59 Princeton 57 - John Calipari's youthful Wildcats survived an opening game scare from a very game Princeton squad. Josh Harrelson scored 15 points with 10 rebounds and 4 steals.


Temple 66 Penn State 64 - The Owls snapped a losing streak at the NCAA winning a nip-and-tuck battle with Vandy. Next up, San Diego State.

San Diego St. 68 Northern Colorado 50 - As expected, the powerful Aztecs cruised in their opening game. Kawhi Leonard led the way with 21 points.


Butler 60 Old Dominion 58 - senior Matt Howard tipped in a loose ball as time expired to escape a close call with a very capable senior-led Old Dominion team. Howard played the majority of the second half with three fouls and, as usual, was in the right place at the right time.

Pittsburgh 74 NC-Asheville 51 - No match here, as the Panthers dominated. Ashton Gibbs led all scorers with 26 points, including 6 0f 9 from three-point range.


Morehead State 62 Louisville 61 - In the upset of the day, Morehead State, the #13 seed from the Ohio Valley conference, knocked off #4 Louisville on a daring three-pointer by Demonte Harper with time running down and the Eagles behind by three. Louisville was left with lees than 3 seconds and could not get off a shot.

Richmond 69 Vanderbilt 66 - The Spiders, the region's #12 seed, hung with the Commodores throughout the second half, took a late lead and held on for the win over a badly over-seeded (#5) Vanderbilt team. Point guard Kevin Anderson was a thorn in Vandy's side all day and had the go-ahead bucket on a short runner from the left of the hoop and finished with a game-high 25 points.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FINAL FOUR: Huskies, Wildcats, Spartans and Tar Heels Head to Motor City

How they got there: Recaps of the Regional Finals

West: (1) Connecticut 82, (3) Missouri 75 - The Huskies were undaunted by Missouri's pressure and built a 13-point lead only to have the Tigers whittle it down and eventually take the lead back, by a point, with less than 6 minutes left. From that point onward, Connecticut stepped up the defense and made shots and freebies when they had to. Missouri continued to try to cut into the advantage, but Kemba Walker and A.J. Price controlled the backcourt tempo for the prevailing Huskies. Walker had the game of his life, outscoring everybody with 23 points while dishing 5 assists and snatching 5 rebounds. Price scored 18 points for UConn, which hit only 2 of 12 3-pointers, turned the ball over 17 times to Missouri's 6, but controlled the paint, outrebounding the Tigers, 47-32.

Midwest: (2) Michigan St. 64, (1) Louisville 52 - Tom Izzo's defensive-minded Spartans limited Louisville to their second-lowest point total of the season ending the Cardinals' 13-game win streak while rewarding themselves with a virtual home game in Detroit at the Final Four. Michigan State's fearless defenders took Louisville out of their game and outhustled them at every opportunity. Louisville shot just 38% (18-47), including a respectable 6-16 from beyond the arc, but the Spartans shot 45% and outdueled Louisville in the paint, grabbing 37 boards to Louisville's 28.

Michigan State's big man, Goran Suton, positioning himself 15 to 18 feet from the basket on offense, kept getting open looks and hitting them, sharing game-high honors with Louisville's Earl Clark at 19 points. Suton also managed to corral 10 rebounds and fed his teammates with 4 assists.

East: (3) Villanova 78, (1) Pittsburgh 76 - This one figured to be close all the way and it was, ending finally on Scottie Reynolds' four-footer in the lane with 1/2 second left. Both teams played their hearts out, but Villanova ended up with the last possession at 8 seconds from the final buzzer and they made their play. There was nothing more Pitt could do to win this game; they were simply one-upped by another team from Pennsylvania. For the Panthers, Sam Young had 28 points to lead all scorers, and deJuan Blair recorded his usual double-double, with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Villanova's scoring was led by Dwayne Anderson with 17, followed by Reynolds with 15 and Dante Cunningham's 15. The Wildcats did everything right, as did Pitt, in the tournament's best-played game. Villanova was actually outshot by the Panthers, 48% to 45%, but the Wildcats won it at the line, hitting 22 of 23 free throws.

South: (1) North Carolina 72, (2) Oklahoma 60 - The much-anticipated mano-a-mano between Tyler Hansbrough and Blake Griffin never really materialized as Hansbrough was saddled with fouls early and had to sit out much of the first half. By the numbers, Griffin outplayed North Carolina's Psycho-T, scoring 23 points with 16 rebounds. Hansbrough had 8 and 6, though Carolina's lead expanded and Griffin's scoring was limited with Hansbrough on the floor.

Otherwise, the game went almost completely north Carolina's way thanks to Ty Lawson and Danny Green. Lawson, virtually unchecked at the point, scored 19 points and had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Green scored 18 on 6 of 9 shooting. Both players hit 2 of 4 3-pointers.

Once the Tar Heels had established a first half lead of 11 points, they maintained a similar edge throughout most of the remainder of the game. The Sooners were pathetic from outside, missing their first 15 3-point attempts until 5:14 left in the second half when Willie Warren finally splashed one in the middle of a 9-0 late Sooner run. Oklahoma got to within 12 points after the tar Heels had led by as many as 19, but failed to get any closer, going xxx from beyond the arc.

In the semifinal games to be played Saturday, April 4 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the Connecticut Huskies face Michigan State and the Tar Heels meet Villanova.

The Final will be played Monday night, April 6.

Friday, March 27, 2009

South, Midwest Regional Semis: Friday Games

Midwest Region
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

(1) Louisville 103, (12) Arizona 64 - The Cardinals took control early and led 49-28 by the half and the contest was essentially over. Louisville completely dominated the less-experienced Wildcats throughout and cruised to the round of 8. Their lead widened in the second half. Look out Final Four, Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals are more than ready. Louisville's final tally tied Connecticut for the highest of the tournament. Twelve different players scored for the Cardinals, led by Earl Clark's 19.

(2) Michigan St. 67, (3) Kansas 62 - The Jayhawks took a 36-29 lead into the half after leading by as many as 13 earlier on the strength of 22 combined from Cole Aldrich ad Sherron Collins.

Michigan State rallied in the second half, with the game eventually taken over by Kalin Lucas who hit a clutch three and numerous free throws down the stretch.

Lucas and the Spartan faithful will have their hands full with Louisville on Sunday.

South Region
FedExForum (Memphis, TN)

(2) Oklahoma 84, (3) Syracuse 71 - The Orangemen could not buy a bucket from outside, missing all 10 of their 3-point attempts in the first half. The Sooners took advantage with 16 first half points from Blake Griffin and 14 on 3 3-pointers by Tony Crocker for a 39-26 lead.

With an injured Jonny Flynn on the floor for the Orangemen in the second half, the Sooners quickly upped the lead to 22 points and were never seriously challenged. Crocker finished with a career-high 28 points, hitting 6 of 11 from three-point range, Blake Griffin had 30 points and 12 boards.

(1) North Carolina 98, (4) Gonzaga 77 - Two of the highest scoring teams in the nation played at a breakneck pace in the first half, but Carolina made fewer miscues and was the swifter and more adroit, taking a 53-42 lead into intermission. The Tar Heels expanded their lead and cruised to the Elite Eight.

North Carolina will play Oklahoma in the regional final. That will be one hot game. Get ready.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NCAA Regionals: Thursday Results

West Region
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.

East Region
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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Midwest, South Regional Breakdowns: Friday Games

Midwest Region
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

(1) Louisville (30-5) (-9, 139 1/2) (12) Arizona (21-13) 7:07 pm EDT- On paper, this looks like the easiest game to pick, with the #1 seed in the tournament facing a rank #12 in the Wildcats of Arizona. However, Arizona, a bubble team which wasn't expected to make the tourney by some expert analysts, has turned in a pleasantly surprising performance over its first two games, winning with relative ease over Utah (84-71) in the first round and then knocking off a Cinderella squad from Cleveland State, 71-57. In fact, the Wildcats combined margin of victory (27 points), is exactly the same as Louisville's.

Making the comparison even more interesting is the seeds beaten. Louisville only had to top a 16 and a 9 (Siena), while Arizona battled a 5 (Utah) and a 13. Add the seeds up, compare, and Arizona becomes even more likable.

Arizona has been led by the trio of Nic Wise, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill, who provide the bulk of the scoring. Wise led the Wildcats in scoring in both games, and can create his own space and scoring opportunities, while Budinger is evolving into an excellent mid-to-long range player and Hill takes up space in the post, where he will have to contend with Louisville's enormously-talented Earl Clark. Terrence Williams and Samardo Samuels will also fill the lane with points and boards.

Louisville was tested by tiny Siena, and one has to question just how far the Cardinals are capable of going. They may be playing possum, but the Saints also had no quit in them, thus the close, 79-72 final score. Arizona is capable of staying in this one until the end and maybe scoring the biggest upset of the tournament.

PREDICTION: Arizona 77 Louisville 73

(2) Michigan St. (28-6) (-1 1/2, 139) (3) Kansas (27-7) 9:37 pm EDT - Kansas has a speedy, experienced point guard in Sherron Collins, but he will have to match up with the Spartan's Kalin Lucas, possessive of blow-by quickness and expert ball-handling. Collins, for the first time in the tournament, may not have the upper hand at the point. In the post, another matchup, of the Jayhawks Cole Aldrich and Michigan State's Goran Suton figures to be a wash, so it comes down to the rest of the cast, and that's where Kansas may actually have an edge with freshmen Marcus and Markieff Morris and Tyshawn Taylor, plus sophomore Tyrel Reed, who can provide instant offense with bombs from anywhere on the court.

Michigan State's game is predicated on defense first, but the Spartans will have their hands full with Kansas, which can go 8 or 9 deep. Michigan State isn't very deep at all, with a big drop-off after their 6th man in terms of playing time. The Spartans will be gassed by Kansas' relentless running and will once more prove to the world that the Big Ten isn't that great a conference.

PREDICTION: Kansas 73 Michigan St. 65

South Region
FedExForum (Memphis, TN)

(2) Oklahoma (29-5) (-1, 153) (3) Syracuse (28-9) 7:27 pm EDT - An intriguing matchup, especially considering that Syracuse will try to stop Blake Griffin with their patented 2-3 zone. The Orangemen certainly have the bodies to keep him in check, but the question is for how long? Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn is a future NBA player, but he's still only a sophomore, so the experience will not be easy for him. Another question the "Cuse has to answer is whether Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins can continue to produce from beyond the arc. If they cannot, this one will be all Oklahoma.

While Syracuse has an impressive resume against out-of-conference teams with wins over Florida, Kansas and Memphis, those were all in November and December. Meanwhile, the Sooners lost two games in which Griffin was unavailable, and may have come into the tournament with a better record (and seeding) had it not been for his late-season injury. Oklahoma is as good as any team remaining, while the Orangemen (my alma mater, BTW) seem to be still developing and maybe will win it all in a year or two.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma 82 Syracuse 70

(1) North Carolina (30-4) (-8 1/2, 162 1/2) (4) Gonzaga (28-5) - 9:57 pm EDT - The Zags are a solid team, but the Tar Heels are poised to go to the Final Four. A win by Gonzaga would be a shock to the entire college hoops world, as many have the Tar Heels penned in their bracket projections to win it all. Gonzaga performed grandly to advance this far, but this is where it ends.

PREDICTION: North Carolina 91 Gonzaga 75

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

East, West Regional Breakdowns: Thursday Games

West Region
University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, AZ)

(1) Connecticut (29-4) (-7, 134 1/2) (5) Purdue (27-9) - 7:07 pm EDT: Connecticut should handle the Boilermakers with relative ease. As tournament teams go, the Huskies have the widest margin of victory of any remaining team, an average of 41 points per game. Purdue has one of the smallest - 3 1/2 per game - though Purdue played a 12 (Northern Iowa) and a 4 (Washington), the latter of which they survived by just two points. UConn had the luxury of playing a 16 (Chattanooga) and a 9 (Texas A&M), but the perceived quality of the opponent shouldn't matter at this point. Making the Sweet 16 is a goal in itself for some teams and the feeling is that Purdue has reached as far as they can.

Connecticut comes from the powerhouse Big East conference, which has been regarded as the best in the nation top to bottom, and by getting five of seven entrants to this point the critics (if there were any) have been silenced. The Huskies stand a very good chance of making the Final Four, as do all the #1s, which are all represented this round.

The matchup problems for Purdue will be all over the court, beginning with Hasheem Thabeet in the middle. Only DeJuan Blair of Pitt has been able to slow Thabeet down at all, and if he stays out of foul trouble, the big man will make life in the lane a scary experience, especially for his counterpart, 6'10" JaJuan Johnson, who happens to be Purdue's leading scorer in the tournament. With Thabeet on him, getting 20 points seems like a mightly uphill task. On the other side, UConn doesn't rely on Thebeet for scoring. For that they have Jeff Adrian, A. J. Price and Stanley Robinson. Those three should get 60-70% of the scoring for their team, enough to put Purdue at a distinct disadvantage.

PREDICTION: Connecticut 84 Purdue 70

(2) Memphis (33-3) (-4 1/2, 141) (3) Missouri (30-6) - 9:37 pm EDT:
This is a crucial game for both teams, but particularly for the Memphis Tigers, who have been accused of playing too weak a schedule, in too weak a conference. Memphis is the only team from Conference-USA to receive an invitation to the tournament - a ridiculous notion. The Tigers sport the nation's longest winning streak - 27 games - and have the best overall record in the nation, but the three losses were against arguably the best teams they faced all season - Georgetown, Xavier and Syracuse - two of which are still in the remaining field.

However, the most recent loss was last year - December 20 - and winning is like a contagion, the Memphis players step on the court thinking they can win, and they usually do. The Tigers' first tournament game, an 81-70 win over Cal State Northridge, can be excused for first round jitters. By the end of the game, Memphis was doing what they do best, shutting the other team down defensively and getting out on the break. In their easy win over Maryland, 89-70, the Tigers were more at ease with the crowds and expectations and they looked solid. The Memphis game revolves around point guard Antonio Anderson and power forward-center Robert Dozier, with a healthy dose of Tyreke Evans. This Tiger trokia is the key to their success.

Missouri poses an intriguing problem, as they like to pressure and run, but they run into problems if one of their two big guns - Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll - either encounters foul problems or a lock-down defender, and that's what both of them may face in Evans and Anderson. After their two big stars, Missouri just doesn't have enough depth to stay with Memphis for an entire 40 minutes. Unless Memphis turns the ball over more than expected, all indications are that Memphis moves on.

PREDICTION: Memphis 78 Missouri 65

East Region
TD Banknorth Garden (Boston, MA)

(1) Pittsburgh (30-4) (-7, 138 1/2) (4) Xavier (27-7) - 7:27 pm EDT: Ideally suited for tournament play, Xavier doesn't rely on any one or two players in order to win games. Rather, they are the consummate team and because of that have a good chance of reaching the Final Four and an outside shot at winning it all. While the Panthers have only lost to teams from the Big East, their wins outside the conference (Texas Tech, Florida State, Duquesne) aren't that impressive. The Musketeers have wins over Memphis and Missouri, two teams still in the hunt, suggesting that they will give Pitt all they can handle. Xavier can go nine deep, and all of them will get on the glass, pass well and play with poise.

Xavier won't be giving up much size, especially at the point, where Pitt's 5'10" Levance Fields may have problems getting the ball in the post to Blair. That was an issue for Pitt against Oklahoma State, but the immensely talented Sam Young picked up the slack, scoring 32 in one of this tournament's finest performances.

Xavier seems ready for anyone, and the extra practice time gives them an advantage. Pitt has won their two games by an average of just 9 points, the lowest of any #1, while the Musketeers won their games by 19 and 11. Xavier's speed, defense and coolness in any situation may prove to be the factors that get them to the next round.

PREDICTION: Xavier 71 Pitt 69

(2) Duke (30-6) (-2 1/2, 148) (3) Villanova (28-7) - 9:57 pm EDT: By any standard, this matchup is nearly impossible to predict a winner. Both teams play a fast, free-flowing style of offense, have players capable of hitting threes or scoring in the lane, neither has a huge inside presence and both are well coached and go seven to eight deep. Of all the players on the court, two stand out as potential game-changers. Jon Scheyer for Duke can get hot and hit bombs from just about anywhere, while Villanova's Dante Cunningham can be somewhat unstoppable in the post, but that only makes matters even more difficult to predict.

This is such an even call, the only prudent thing to do is take the points and hope the Wildcats have the ball for the final possession. It's easy to see this one going overtime and either team could go to the Final Four and beyond.

PREDICTION: Villanova 84 Duke 81

Tomorrow: Midwest, South Regional Breakdowns, Friday Games

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Second Round Results, Sunday's Games

(3) Syracuse 78, (6) Arizona St. 67 - Syracuse, one of six Big East entrants still alive in the tourney, took control early and quickly expanded their lead over the Sun Devils to double digits, completely frustrating the PAC-10 player of the year, James Harden, who was held to just 10 points on 2 for 10 shooting. Syracuse, meanwhile, was firing at will, hitting 55% from the field and 81% from the foul line for the game, but got a little sloppy with about 7 minutes remaining, allowing the Sun Devils to close to within 4 points. Andy Rautins hit a three and Eric Devendorf nailed two straight 3-balls to quickly expand the lead back to 11 points under 4 minutes. Arizona State never got closer than 9 after that. Five different Orangemen scored in double figures, led by Devendorf who hit 5 of 11 three-pointers for 21 points.

Syracuse will face #2 seed Oklahoma Friday night in one of the South Regional semifinal games. The other is already set with #1 North Carolina facing #4 Gonzaga. Syracuse coach Jim Boehiem will be in search of his 800th career win in their tilt with the Sooners.

(4) Xavier 60, (12) Wisconsin 49 - In the defensive special of the day, Xavier playing man-to-man, Wisconsin zoning, points were hard-earned. At the first TV timeout, nearly 5 minutes in, Wisconsin led 5-2. At the half it was 27-25 Wisconsin. Neither team could shake loose, with 5 points the biggest leads.

The Badgers took a 32-26 lead to open the second half, but the Musketeers responded with a 9-0 run to wrest a 3-point lead. Later, B.J. Raymond hit a three-pointer to make it 49-41 at 4:24 and held off the Badgers the rest of the way and into the Sweet 16 to play Pitt in a regional semifinal. Xavier went 8 deep and all 8 players scored, led by B.J. Raymond's 15 points.

(3) Kansas 60, (11) Dayton 43 - Dayton scored the first basket of the game, but went 1-13 in the early going, allowing Kansas to open up an 11-2 lead. The Flyers improved on their shooting and cut the lead to two, and finished the half down just 6, 29-23. Cole Aldrich nearly had a first half double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds as he had little competition in the post.

Dayton's poor shooting continued in the second half. With less than 10 minutes left, the Flyers were shooting just 20% (11-55) and Kansas opened up a 42-30 lead, expanding it to as many as 22. Sherron Collins led the scoring with 25 points. Cole Aldrich scored 15 and dominated the glass with 20 rebounds. Kansas heads to the Midwest regional.

(12) Arizona 71, (13) Cleveland St. 57 - Cleveland State shot just 30% in the first half while the Wildcats established a 35-25 lead at the half, shooting 57%. The Vikings fought back to within 4 points in the second half, but could not catch the Wildcats. Nic Wise led the Wildcats with 21 points and 8 assists. The Wildcats face Kansas in the the Midwest regionals.

(1) Pittsburgh 84, (8) Oklahoma St. 76 - The Cowboys rode out to an early 8-point lead, hitting 6 of their first 8 3-pointers, but Pitt went on an 11-0 run to grab a 29-26 lead. That's about when the shoot-around commenced with both teams firing away - and hitting - from everywhere on the court. The two teams went into the break tied at 49. Pitt hit 8 of 16 threes, outdone by Oklahoma State's blazing 10-15 from outside the arc. DeJuan Blair, expected to dominate inside, never got enough touches, scoring just one point in the half on 0-2 shooting. Running mate Sam Young picked up the slack with a sensational 9 of 11 performance for 23 points at half time.

Both teams cooled off in the second half, but tied at 53, Pitt reeled off 11 straight points to briefly take control of the game at the midpoint, but the Cowboys would not ride off into the sunset, grabbing a 72-71 lead with 3:48 left. Sam Young's three at 3:12 made it 74-72, Pitt. The teams traded baskets, and Levance Fields' three with 1:29 left gave the Panthers a 79-74 lead. The Cowboys could only get as close as 3 down the stretch, sending Pitt to the East regionals to face Xavier Thursday night. Sam Young finished with 32 points. DeJuan Blair got involved late, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

(3) Missouri 83, (6) Marquette 79 - It wasn't the usual Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carrol show as Kim English scored 15 points right away for Missouri, hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers and 6 of 8 overall, staking the Tigers to a healthy lead, expanding it to 46-35 at the break. Dominic James started for Marquette and saw plenty of court time, but production from him and Maurice Acker at the point was minimal.

The Golden Eagles would not go away, though, inching back to within 2, at 58-56, nearing the 10 minute mark, finally taking the lead at 71-70, on wesley Matthews' three-point play. With the scored tied at 79, J.T. Tiller drove to the tin and was fouled and injured with 5 seconds left. English was called in to shoot the free throws and calmly made both. Lazar Hayward then stepped on the end line on the ensuing inbounds play, sealing the win and a trip to the Sweet 16 for Missouri.

Michigan St. 74, (10) USC 69 (2) - The Spartans weren't intimidated by USC's size advantage and took it right at the Trojans in a game that was tight through the first half, with Michigan State leading 40-37 at the half. Surprisingly, Michigan St. held a 17-9 rebounding edge as well at intermission.

The Trojans opened the second half on a 10-2 run, taking a 47-42 lead, but the spartans responded with a 10-0 run of their own, surging to a 52-47 advantage. USC quickly retied the game and the two squads traded baskets and free throws for most of the half. Taj Gibson fouled out at 5:28. Goran Suton's free throws at 1:18 gave Michigan State a 73-69 lead and the Trojans were unable to score again, sending Michigan State to a meeting with Kansas in the Midwest regional.

(1) Louisville 79, (9) Siena 72 - The Saints said their prayers and hung with the powerful Louisville Cardinals, trailing at the half by only 7, 42-35.

Things started slipping away in the second half, however, with Louisville stretching the lead to 12 points just 3 minutes in, though the Saints never had a single thought of quitting, grinding back to take the lead at 61-59 on Clarence Jackson's layup at 9:18. The Saints forged a 63-59 lead, but Louisville ran off 9 straight to reclaim the edge, 68-63 and Earl Clark dominated in the final minutes for the #1 seed in the tournament. Louisville held off the pesky Saints, hitting free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Second Round Results, Saturday's Games

(3) Villanova 89, (6) UCLA 69 - The Bruins were completely overwhelmed by Villanova's quickness as the Wildcats led all the way and put six different players in double figures. They also outrebounded UCLA 41-28. Dante Cunningham had 18 points and 10 boards. Next round for Villanova will be against Duke on Thursday.

(2) Memphis 89, (10) Maryland 70 - Unlike their opener, the Memphis Tigers left no doubt this time, leading from start to finish with a dominating performance over the Terrapins. Memphis shot 59%, including 53% from beyond the arc (10-19), while also canning 17-22 free throws. Five different players had double figures in scoring, and point guard Antonio Anderson had 10 dishes. The Tigers await the winner of Sunday's Missouri-Marquette game for their next opponent, to be played Thursday.

(1) Connecticut 92, (9) Texas A&M 66 - Third straight blowout of the day had the Huskies absolutely clicking in every aspect of the game. A.J. Price had 27 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Huskies, who hit 58% from the field and 78% from the foul line. UConn is winning by huge margins, a sign of a team headed to the final four. They face Purdue in the next round, Thursday night.

(5) Purdue 76, (4) Washington 74 - The Boilermakers nearly blew a double-digit lead but held on late to advance. JaJuan Johnson had 25 to lead the scoring. Robbie Hummel had a nice game with 9 points and 9 boards.

(1) North Carolina 84 (8) LSU 70 - LSU actually had a lead with under eight minutes left, but the Tar Heels, especially Ty Lawson, playing with a sore right big toe, built their biggest lead as the clock fell under 3 minutes. Lawson and Wayne Ellison each scored 23 points, sending Carolina to the regionals against Gonzaga.

(2) Oklahoma 73, (10) Michigan 63 - The Sooners have to be the most overlooked high seed in the tournament as they took out a gritty Michigan squad and move on to the next round. Blake Griffin was completely off the charts with the game of the tournament thus far, scoring 33 points with 17 rebounds. Michigan's big scorer, Manny Harris, was held in check, totaling only 11 points on 3-9 shooting. The Sooners get the winner of Sunday's Syracuse-Arizona State hook-up in the next round, to be played Friday night.

(2) Duke 74, (7) Texas 69 - The Blue Devils had a 10-point lead with under 7 minutes left in the game, but Texas battled back, continuing to drive the lane and dominate the boards to tie the game late. Duke was cool at the end, with Gerald Henderson hitting a pair of free throws with 7 seconds left to give the Blue Devils their margin of victory. Duke advances to play Villanova in the next round.

(4) Gonzaga 83, (12) Western Kentucky 81 - This one was a barn-burner from the opening tip to the final buzzer with each team shooting at better than 50% for most of the game. The Hilltoppers really hurt themselves by going just 5-13 from the foul line. With 6:13 left, Gonzaga's Matt Bouldin made a three-pointer which gave the Bulldogs a 72-66 lead. Jeremy Pargo's short jumper made it an 8-point edge with under 5 minutes left. Western kentucky battled back to tie the game at 81-all with 7 seconds left. Then Demetri Goodson hit a short banker with under a second left for the win, in one of the best games of the tournament thus far. The Zags next meet North Carolina in the regional semifinal.

Second Round PIcks for Sunday, March 22

(3) Syracuse (27-9) -1 1/2 (6) Arizona St. (25-9) 12:10 pm - Tough call here, but the Orangemen should prevail over the Sun Devils, if only because Jonny Flynn is so explosive at point guard. Syracuse also benefits from being on the East coast and will likely have forward Kristof Ongenaet back after he missed the opener against Stephen F. Austin. Syracuse will have to limit the scoring by James Harden, Derek Glasser and Jeff Pendergraph, and their 2-3 matchup zone is just the tonic for that. Harden especially likes to drive and distribute or finish, but he'll have lots of Orangemen with him in the lane. Syracuse will advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

(4) Xavier (26-7) -4 (12) Wisconsin (20-12) 2:20 pm - The Badgers needed overtime to knock out Florida State after trailing by a dozen or more. It was a very impressive performance but now Wisconsin faces a Xavier team that seems to be tailor-made for tournament play. The Musketeers, like Wisconsin, don't boast any one superstar, they play more like a team. In many respects, these two teams will go at it hard for 40 minutes. The line had interesting movement on Saturday, going from 2 1/2 to 4, and if you can get 3 or more, you have to take the Badgers and the points, as every indication is pointing to a close game. Xavier advances on a buzzer-beater and doesn't cover.

(3) Kansas (26-7) -7 1/2 (11) Dayton (27-7) 2:30 pm - Dayton is a heck of a lot better team than anyone thought. They can hang with just about anyone in this tournament, except maybe the top 4 to 6 teams. Kansas is not one of those, though they are very good. The Flyers already beat a 6, West Virginia, so they should hold their own against a 3. Are they Regional material? In this region, Midwest, if you were seeded 13 or lower, you have a shot. Dayton wins, covers and moves on, sending the reigning champs home early.

(12) Arizona (20-13) -3 (13) Cleveland St. (26-10) 2:40 pm - Another small conference (Horizon League) team that absolutely shocked everyone by not only beating Wake Forest, but dominating them. The Vikings are going to end up in the final Top 25 almost for sure, especially if they win this game. They beat Syracuse earlier in the year, and just beat Butler and Wake Forest in succession. The Wildcats got by the Utes pretty easily, but remember, Arizona is a team that lost four of their last five regular season games and then were bounced in the first round of the PAC-10 tourney. Like raw fish on a hot day, they can go bad quickly. The Vikings plunder and set sail for the regionals.

(1) Pittsburgh (29-4) -8 (8) Oklahoma St. (23-11) 2:50 pm - Simply put, Oklahoma State doesn't have the bodies to stop DeJuan Blair down low. Pitt also can defend very well. Could be the biggest killing of the day. Pitt wins easily and moves along.

(3) Missouri (29-6) -3 1/2 (6) Marquette (25-9) 4:50 pm - Marquette's journey into tourney-land without Dominic James has a history already, as they were turned out after one game in the Big East and it looks like this may go the same way. The Golden Eagles just barely got past Utah State, and Missouri is a much better team than that. Leo Lyons went for 23 in the opener against Cornell. He may get 30 against Marquette. Missouri looks like one of the better plays of the day. They win by 8 and head to the next round.

(2) Michigan St. (27-6) -4 (10) USC (22-12) 5:00 pm - Just in case nobody noticed, it should be mentioned that USC has won 6 straight, and dominated Boston College in the second half. The Spartans are no slouches themselves, winners of 7 of their last 8, after a ho-hum, 77-62 win over Robert Morris. USC is a much quicker and more athletic team than the Spartans and #2's have to go sometime, so this one looks ripe for a major statement by the Trojans. USC wins by 12. Take them with the points and straight up.

(1) Louisville (29-5) -11 (9) Siena (27-7) 5:20 pm - Too bad a team with as much heart and desire as Siena has to face a monster like Louisville, the #1 seed in the tournament. More than half the people watching this will be rooting for the little team that could, but the Cardinals simply have too much size, depth and a great coach - Rick Pitino - to get beat here. Maybe next year, the Saints could get a higher seed and actually have a chance to win a second game. Siena will be in this for most of the first half, but Louisville will get too many easy buckets and run away late. Take the Cardinals, lay the points. They are a prohibitive favorite on the money line, so don't touch it because strange things always seem to happen when the case is so clear. Kudos to Siena, though, as an 11-point dog, they've gotten respect.

Second Round Matchups: Saturday, March 21

Wow! Three ACC teams dumped in the first two days is unprecedented. while Thursday was pretty quiet in terms of bracket busting, Friday produced a flurry of upsets, not the least of which were Cleveland State over Wake Forest and Wisconsin knocking off Florida State in overtime. Little Siena had to go double OT to dispatch Ohio State late Friday night, but the Midwest region should now be called the Busted West Region, because, in addition to #13 Cleveland State bumping the #4 Dekes, #10 USC trampled #7 BC, #12 Arizona demolished #5 Utah (a mis-seed if ever there was one), and #11 Dayton stunned #6 West Virginia. That leaves a big hole in the bracket. The 4-8 teams have been eliminated.

With that news as a backdrop, here are Saturday's games, with picks straight up and against the spread (ATS):

(3) Villanova (27-7) -2 (6) UCLA (26-8) 1:05 pm - The Bruins pose some matchup problems for the Wildcats in terms of size. UCLA is a much larger team that should be able to keep Dante Cunningham in check. Scottie Reynolds didn't play very well in the opener against American. The Bruins had their hands full with VCU, a senior-led team with a great deal of pride. This is somewhat of a home game for the Wildcats, being played in Philly, so why are they just 2-point favorites? Because UCLA has won 6 of their last 7, the only loss coming to USC in the PAC-10 tourney, and we saw what USC did to BC last night. Take the Bruins SU and ATS, to advance to the regionals.

(2) Memphis (32-3) -9 (10) Maryland (21-13) 3:20 pm - Of Maryland's 13 losses, nearly half - six - came by more than 9 points, sometimes much more like their 44-85 loss to Duke or the 64-93 shattering at Clemson. Some of their games have been outright ugly and the Terps were lucky to get an invite. Memphis keeps rolling along, despite their trouble against Cal St. Northridge, which can probably be chalked up to a serious case of jitters. Maryland will have trouble penetrating the defense, as the Tigers will clamp down on Greivis Vasquez. If Memphis can hold him to a pedestrian level, say 25, the Terps will be searching for scorers and they also don't defend well. Maryland's win over Cal wasn't anything special. Take Memphis, give the points. Memphis moves on.

(1) Connecticut (28-4) -10 (9) Texas A&M (24-9)3:35 pm - The Huskies absolutely rolled past Chattanooga and looked awesome. Meanwhile, the Aggies actually had to play a team that mattered, handily downing the higher seed, BYU, in the first round. Big 12 teams are 5-0 through two days, while the highly-touted Big East suffered their first loss Friday night when West Virginia fell to Dayton. They stand at 6-1. While I don't believe A&M will beat UConn, they just might. This no-name group does include one notable: Chinemelu Elonu, who will have to contend with 7'3" Hasheem Thabeet in the post. Elpnu's size and experience will help there and the rest of the unit has balanced scoring and no size issues. Look for the Huskies to win, but by only 5-7 points.

(4) Washington (26-8) -1 1/2 (5) Purdue (26-9) 5:40 pm - The Washington Huskies are a great sleeper pick at the #4 seed. PAC-10 teams are 4-1, the loss by Cal due to them not really belonging in the field of 65. Purdue, maybe the second-best team in the Big Ten, doesn't have the speed to stay with Washington, which gets much of their scoring from senior leaders Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon, though frosh Isaiah Thomas leads the team in scoring and assists. Purdue may have to rely on three-pointers more than they'd like here. Washington should win this by 8 to 12 points, easily advancing.

(1) North Carolina (29-4) -12 1/2 (8) LSU (27-7) 5:45 pm - The big question is whether or not Ty Lawson will be starting for the Tar Heels, or whether he will play at all. He's still suffering from a swelled-up big toe which kept him out of Friday's game and coach Roy Williams hasn't said whether the point guard will go or no. Keep in mind that Carolina is still really, really good without Lawson, and figure that even if he plays, he certainly won't be 100%. LSU is the lone standard-bearer remaining from the three teams that the SEC sent to the tourney, but they were the best during the season and have the kind of players that can match up with the Tar Heels, except in the middle, where Tyler Hansbrough is likely to dominate. The Tigers could spring the upset, and their chances of keeping this in single digits is good. Lots of money will go down on Carolina, which should advance, but not cover. Take the Tar Heels SU, take the points and LSU ATS.

(2) Oklahoma (28-5) -6 1/2 (10) Michigan (21-13) 5:50 pm - Michigan's win over Clemson was a surprise to some, but should they really be just 6 1/2-point dogs to the Sooners? I make them 12-13 point losers here. They are very one-dimensional, in that Manny Harris IS their offense. And while some may say the same about Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, he has experience and age over Harris, and well, size. Michigan will find him very difficult to control inside. Take the Sooners, lay the points. Oklahoma moves on, Michigan goes home.

(4) Gonzaga (27-5) -11 (12) West. Kentucky (25-8) 8:10 pm - This looks like the easiest pick of the day. The Zags struggled a little in their opening night win over Akron, and the Hilltoppers handled a pretty good Illinois squad, plus they've won 8 straight and 12 of their last 13. The Zags have won 10 straight themselves, but, remember, both teams are from non-power conferences, so the game should be closer than double digits. The Zags always attract a load of dumb loot, and this is no exception. The Hilltoppers could win this one outright, and they almost certainly will cover. Tkae Western Ketucky straight up and with the points.

(2) Duke (29-6) -7 1/2 (7) Texas (23-11) 8:15 pm - Take the points. Take the points. Take the points and take Texas to upset Duke. The Longhorns can play with anybody, and they have a very talented backcourt. If Texas can hit their threes and stay out of foul trouble they can go toe-to-toe with the Blue Devils. Really, I don't know which one of these teams will advance, but the money line on Texas (+280) is worth a shot as is the play with the points.

Coming later today: Picks for Sunday's games, plus Saturday results. Stay Mad!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Late Friday First Round Results

East Region:
(4) Xavier 77, (13) Portland St. 59 - The Muskateers handled Portland State fairly easily, getting scoring from 9 different players, 4 in double figures. Xavier is a tournament staple and they look to be a tough out on Sunday.

(12) Wisconsin 61, (5) Florida St. 59, OT - The Badgers got the Seminoles into their kind of grind-it-out, low-scoring affair and forced the extra session. Trevan Hughes won it with his bucket and free throw with 2 seconds left in OT. The Badgers were down 12 at the half and trailed much of the game, but had the last say, knocking off the second ACC team of the tournament.

(1) Louisville 74, (16) Morehead St. 54 - A total breeze for the Cardinals, winning without breaking a sweat.

(10) USC 72, (7) Boston College 55 - Taj Gibson only missed one free throw, hitting all ten of his shots from the floor for 24 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. BC made a game of this until about 8 minutes into the second half. The Trojans have the most athletic team in the tournament, and maybe the most dangerous. In their upcoming tilt with Michigan State, they will create many matchup problems for the Spartans.

(12) Arizona 84, (5) Utah 71 - a dramatic case of mis-seeding. Arizona was probably better than a 10 and Utah should not have been a 5. This doesn't look like much of an upset and in reality, isn't. The 10s and 12s are as good as the 3s and 4s in this region, the toughest in the tournament. Nic Wise had 29 for the Wildcats, who sizzled at 55% from the field.

(9) Siena 74, (8) Ohio St. 72, 2 OT- Probably the most exciting game of the tournament fittingly took 2 OTs to decide. Point guard Ronald Moore (why haven't we heard more about this guy?) hit a three to force overtime and another with 3.9 left in the second OT to win it. All five starters for the Saints scored in double figures, led by Edwin Ubiles with 20. Louisville next up for this talented, gutsy group.

(13) Cleveland St. 84, (4) Wake Forest 69 - Easily the biggest upset of the tournament and the highest seed out so far. (Really kills my bracket, too). Cleveland State jumped on the Dekes early and just kept rolling. Sets up a nice matchup in a busted bracket with #12 Arizona on Sunday.

(2) Michigan St. 77, (15) Robert Morris 52 - The Spartans had five players in double figures as they coasted to an opening-round win.

Early Friday First Round Results

This was an afternoon for upsets, as opposed to yesterday's action, which went pretty much by the books.

In the East region, in what figured to be a close call, Oklahoma State (8) got by Tennessee (9) by just two points, 77-75, as Tyler Smith missed a potential game-winning three at the buzzer. #1 seed Pitt escaped a scare from East Tennessee State, the 16 seed. The Bucs pulled to within 2 points in the waning moments, and the Panthers were sweating, but managed to step up the defense, hit a number of key shots and move on, 72-62, in the closest call yet for a #1 or #2 seed. DeJuan Blair was his usual unstoppable self, with 27 points and 15 rebounds.

Pitt squares off with Oklahoma State in the next round, and by all appearances, the Panthers will not be exactly waltzing into the regionals. With Kansas' win today, the Big 12 is 5-0, the best record of any conference.

There were just two afternoon games in the Midwest region, but one was the upset of the day.

Dayton led West Virginia (5) almost the entire game, eventually winning 68-60. The Flyers' Chris Wright led the way for the #12 seed with 27 points and 9 boards. The Flyers are a solid team with upset potential against anyone. They meet Kansas on Sunday, and that game has the potential to be a real treat. The Jayhawks are sound, but unspectacular. Dayton is gunning for more as the first small conference winner.

#14 North Dakota State hung with the Jayhawks most of the way, but eventually fell, 82-72. Kansas' big two, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich led the Jayhawks. Collins had 32 points and 8 assists; Aldrich finished with 23 points and 15 boards.

In the South, Syracuse dominated Stephen F. Austin, 59-44 and #6 Arizona State slipped past Temple, 66-57, without breaking much of a sweat. The Sun Devils and Orangemen have a showdown set for Sunday.

6 seed Marquette's survival in the West was put to the test against the 11 seed, Utah State, as the Golden Eagles won by just a point, 58-57. Marquette's shelf life is down to minute by minute status, as they have to face up to Missouri in the next round, Sunday.

The Mizzou bumped off the Big Red of Cornell, 78-59. Leo Lyons scored 23 points and hauled in 11 rebounds.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday First Round Late Games

EAST Region

If A.J. Abrams scores 26 points, you can almost bet that Texas is going to win and that's what happened when the Longhorns eliminated Minnesota, 76-62. Minny never really belonged and making them a 10 seed was an insult to about 15 other teams. Texas has a nice blend of players who should give Duke a struggle in the next round.

Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham each scored 25 points to lead a come-from-behind win by the #3 Villanova Wildcats over a scrappy squad from American University. The Wildcats were down 41-31 at the half, but wore down the Eagles for the 80-67 win.

VCU has a pretty good hoops team. News Flash: UCLA is better. By a point, 65-64. Quite a few people liked VCU to pull off the upset and they almost did. Eric Maynor missed a shot at the buzzer that would have won it. If you stuck with the 11-time tournament champion Bruins, you're bracket looks a lot better than other people's.

#2 seed Duke outclassed tiny Binghamton (15), 86-62.

SOUTH Region

First mild upset of the tournament went to the 10th seed Wolverines of Michigan, after a lengthy absence of ten years, over Clemson, a seven, the first ACC team down, 62-59. Michigan's Manny Harris had his usual solid game, with 23 points, 7 boards and 6 assists. Michigan has a tougher task Saturday against the 2 seed Sooners.

#4 Gonzaga knocked out #13 Akron, 77-64. The Zips gave the Zags a good game for about 3/4 - a recurring theme this year - until Gonzaga asserted themselves late and pulled away. The game was essentially over with about 7 minutes left. Somebody please tell the Zips that its over.

#2 Oklahoma crushed #15 Morgan St., 82-54. Blake Griffin survived being flipped over the back of another player to score 28 points, while corralling 13 rebounds. Big 12 is 3-0.

Illinois became the second Big Ten school out, in the upset of the day, losing to Western Kentucky, the 12 seed, 76-72. The Illini trailed almost the entire game. The Hilltoppers

Early Tourney Returns: No Bracket Busters Yet

SOUTH Region

In the first game on the first day of the current edition of "Last Man Standing," LSU struck a blow for the SEC, knocking off a pesky Butler squad that didn't really go away until the final seconds, winning 75-71, to move on to the next round and a meeting with North Carolina in the South Region. Marcus Thornton scored 30 points for the Tigers, adding 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in one of the best opening day performances.

The Tar Heels easily handled Radford, even without point guard Ty Lawson, 101-58. Wayne Ellison paced the Heels with 25 points and 9 boards. Tyler Hansbrough had 22, hitting a 12 of his free throw attempts.

WEST Region

Memphis survived a scare, down by 6 midway through the second half to Cal State Northridge, but nondescript Robert Sallie turned into super-sub, coming off the bench to hit 10 of 15 three-pointers and score 35 points. The Tigers pulled away late, outlasting the Matadors, 81-70. Also in the West region, #5 Purdue put down #12 Northern Iowa, 61-56. Texas A&M, a #9 seed, easily dispatched with #8 BYU, leading all the way for a 79-66 breeze.

#10 Maryland embarrassed #7 Cal (why were they seeded so high, when USC, winners of the PAC-10 tourney, is a 10?), blowing away their West Coast hosts, 84-71. The Terps look ready to give Memphis a tussle, though it's hard to determine whether Maryland is really good or the Bears were that bad. Looks like the latter.

The Connecticut Huskies, the region's #1 seed, made quick work of #16 Chattanooga, 103-47, more than doubling the Mocs' scoring in each half. So much for 1's losing to 16's this season, unless Louisville's starters oversleep tomorrow. The Huskies looked about as good as a #1 can without actually causing physical harm to their opponent.

More tonight, with late game coverage.