March Madness served up a five-course meal on Sunday, and how Sweet 16 it was.
My brackets may be broken, but my heart is intact, as I have neither skin nor gelt in the game.
Louisville was the first team to tear apart my last men standing, losing to Michigan’s mighty Wolverines, who are basking in the sun of their storybook postseason. Then number 2 Duke caused further damage to my Final Four, falling to seventh seeded South Carolina. Talk on the tournament street was that Villanova’s elimination would give the Blue Devils their easiest path to the Final Four. It’s mad, I tell ya!
Fortunately North Carolina, despite poor shooting and a ton of turnovers eluded an ugly loss against Arkansas. And Arizona, my pick to take the whole enchilada, survived a Saint Mary’s massacre in Salt Lake City on Saturday to keep me in contention.
UCLA’s Lorenzo Ball helped his Bruins easily get past the Cincinnati Bearcats, but crosstown rival USC ran out of double-digit voodoo against the Bears of Baylor. Leading by two with less than five minutes to play, the Trojans got mauled by Manu Lecomte, who they had held scoreless for three quarters of the game. Saving his best for last, Lecomte hit a go ahead three, and the foul, then proceeded to rack up four additional points to end USC’s prolific reign of come from behind terror.
It was a tearjerker for Wichita State, who had the Wildcats by the tail, but tentative play in the final 40 seconds, along with a couple of key Kentucky blocks, cost them Final Four redemption. Malik Monk made up for his lack of offense with some dazzling defense, stuffing Wichita State forward Marcus McDuffie’s 3-point attempt with 16 seconds left on the clock.
The Oregon Ducks survived a scare in Sacramento, rallying past the Rhode Island Rams 75-72, thanks to some timely three’s by Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey. Trailing by 11 in the second half, Dillon’s shot from downtown gave the Duck’s a 68-66 lead. With the score knotted at 72, and 1:09 to play, Dorsey sunk what proved to be the winning three-point basket sending the party of Pacific Northwesterners to Kansas City to face off against the wicked Michigan Wolverines.