Pittsburgh, Marquette, Notre Dame, and UConn are all heading home after arriving at the tournament with half of their BIG EAST conference in the big dance. West Virginia and Bob Huggins however have knocked off the (2)Dukies and punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen. Finally, UCLA survived the nightcap with a 21 point performance from junior guard, Darren Collison. Did I mention how much I love tourney time?
As good as the Big East was this year, only West Virginia survived the Saturday before Easter. It is about time we show some respect for Tom Izzo and the Spartans, the team which scheduled Texas and UCLA on their non-conference schedule has just dispatched of the Pitt, and is eyeing an upset of Memphis in the round of 16. Notre Dame was handled by Washington St. and what else was going to happen when Irish forward, Luke Harangody was a pathetic 3 of 17 from the field and four of his 10 points were from the charity stripe. Unfortunately Marquette was unable to hold of Stanford. Jerel McNeal's 30 point effort, including his back-2-back three pointers in overtime wasn't enough to topple the Lopez twins who combined for 48 points. Brook Lopez, who put in 28 points before his 2 point leaner to win the game with 1.5 left on the clock was nothing short of dominating. The 7-foot junior was 10-20 from the floor and in overtime scored 8 consecutive points, proved to be to big for the Golden Eagles. A conference, The Big East, which was poised to possibly put as many as 7 teams in the Sweet 16 after round 1, may have to settle with just 4. Next up, Villanova, Louisville, and Georgetown.
Down goes Duke, down goes Duke . . errrr should I really have been surprised? My question isn't how the Mountaineers defeated Duke yesterday afternoon, my question is how I selected Duke to reach the sweet 16 in one bracket, and elite 8 in another. If 3-pointers fall, they win, if they don't they lose. I should have seen this coming and not let the slight ACC bias blind me, I admit though. Only 5 for 22 from the arc the Blue Devils weren't able to beat the Bob Huggins coached West Virginia team, who was a preseason ranked 10 in the Big East and finished 5th. Guard Joe Mazzulla picked a great time to come off the bench and score 13 along with adding 8 assists. The big surprise may not be Duke losing, but may in fact be that Huggins, now back home, is having a huge impact on college basketball once again. Duke is now officially off my list of teams that I like to go deep into the tournament, they don't have the size it takes to make a deep tournament run, sorry Coach K.
The PAC-10 has quietly placed 3 teams into the 16 and 3 teams in great position as well. Washington State, UCLA, and Stanford all claimed second round victories, and are looking good doing so. Washington State is looking at the winner of North Carolina/Arkansas, UCLA is looking at the winner of Western Kentucky/San Diego, and Stanford will take on the winner of Miami/Texas, at least one of those three is heading to the elite 8, and my upset is Stanford to beat Texas for their ticket. I think we may have overlooked the PAC-10 who is very strong at the top.
First Game: Siena v. Nova (noon) Happy Easter!