Sweet 16 Round-up
Duke wasn’t the only ones who didn’t see South Carolina coming. SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell gives his Gamecocks the biggest woody of their collegiate careers with a 24-point performance, beating Baylor 70-50 to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
DeAaron sly life a Fox killed it for Kentucky, in their much-anticipated rematch that was no match for the Wildcats. Lonzo Ball, the son his father can’t stop boasting about, was unselfish as usual, only this time he handed the ball over to the opposing team – four times. The bad news is Bruins head coach Steve Alford possibly leaving for Indiana after failing to go further with the best group of players in years. The good news – no more lip from Ball’s father, Lavar.
The Oregon Ducks keep getting it done despite the loss of their best defensive player, Chris Boucher, ending Michigan’s magic carpet ride on Tyler Dorsey’s clutch shot from downtown. Wolverine senior Derrick Walton Jr.’s failed three-point buzzer beating attempt didn’t allow him to leave Kansas City in a blaze of glory.
Xavier upset Arizona 73-71, as the eleven seed Musketeers muscled their way past the two seeded favorites with a flourish of willpower and moxie. Trevon Bluiett didn’t miss a bucket until a minute in change left in the first half, ending with a game high 25. And as Arizona faded down the stretch, the big question for Wildcats coach Sean Miller – why didn’t the seven-foot Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen, your top scorer, shoot the ball?
Gonzaga survived a close call in San Jose with a 61-58 West Regional win over W Virginia compliments of Jordan Matthews’ go ahead three pointer with less than a minute to play.
Both teams struggled offensively, but the Mountaineers will certainly lose sleep over three failed threes to tie the game, and Jevon Carter dribbling the ball for what seemed an eternity, unable to break free of the Bulldogs brilliant defense for a go ahead basket before the final buzzer.
North Carolina tarred and feathered the Butler Bulldogs 92-80 and got some unlikely offense from Luke Mayes’ three-point coming out party off the bench. Justin Jackson and Joe Berry were the main attractions with 25 and 26 points respectively, as the Tar Heels road to avenge last year’s painful loss against Villanova marches on.
The Jayhawks put the Boilermakers out of business with a 98-66 massacre in Missouri. This Kansas team has transition tricks up their sleeveless jerseys and will be a tough opponent for the Oregon Ducks who barely waded a win over Michigan. Coach Bill Self has been to as many Sweet Sixteens as your typical teenage girl (12) and this year hopes to break a string of early exits in the Elite Eight. With Frank Mason, Josh Jackson and Anderson 360 dunks by Lagerald Vick on their roster, the Final Four is definitely in their not so distant future.
In the city that never sleeps, Florida kept Wisconsin tossing and turning for hours after Gator guard Chris Chiozza’s last second overtime floating three pointer broke their hearts. The Badgers overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half on Zak Showalter’s one-leg shot from downtown to tie the game with 2.1 seconds left in regulation. March Madness at it’s finest.