Just when you thought you had your bracket won, more madness came along to mess with our minds.
#3 Marquette 71 vs. #2 Miami 61
Out of the gate Miami looked sluggish and Marquette looked as on point as can be. The Golden Eagles opened the game up 17-7, and did not look back from there. Reports that Miami point guard Shane Larkin had been up all night because of sickness ended up being the microcosm to the entire game. Everyone was asleep at the wheel, especially Durand Scott. Scott shot 3-13 from the field and eventually fouled out. At one point it seemed like the rims were greased. Miami’s mantra all season had been get stops on defense, and then push the ball with their electric transition offense. The only problem is that for that to work, you have to play defense. Marquette shot an impressive 54% from the field and limited Miami from ever truly making a comeback in the game. It’s just a shame for a season to come to an end like this for the Hurricanes who were this year’s surprising team all season. The Canes will lose Durand Scott, Trey McKinney-Jones, and Kenny Kadji now because they are all graduating, and the odds of Shane Larkin staying for his junior year are up in the air. Marquette moves into the Elite 8 with a shot on Saturday to go to Atlanta.
#2 Ohio State 73 #6 Arizona 70
The Wildcats came out of the gate strong and led early 33-22. The Buckeyes battled back like they have all year and eventually grabbed the lead in the second half. From there on the game was back and forth. It seemed to be Arizona’s Mark Lyons vs. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft for the latter half of the game. Later on with 21 seconds left in the game, Lyons drove to the tin down three and put in a clutch And-1. It tied the game and set up another Buckeye game-ending possession. With the entire Arizona defense focused on Craft, who hit a game-winning three the previous game, the Cats sent a double team. When they did, it left Craft with no choice but to float the ball to a wide-open LaQuinton Ross. Ross would then nail the game-winner from way behind the arc, otherwise known as “Jimmer Land”, and secured Ohio State a spot in the Elite 8. It was really a brilliant effort from Arizona, especially by Lyons who put in 23 points. Lyons, the transfer from Xavier, will graduate later this year and move onto the pro level where I think he can be useful to some NBA teams. Nevertheless it was a great game with the Buckeyes prevailing while utilizing the theatrics once again.
#9 Wichita State 72 #13 La Salle 58
If you had these two teams playing in your bracket, odds are you’re pretty good at March Madness; or you’re my mother who had 14/16 Sweet 16 teams right going into Thursday’s action, yeah she had Florida Gulf Coast too if you were wondering. Back to the game, Wichita came out firing and opened up 17-3. They too, like Marquette, did not look back from that point on. It seems maybe Tim Tebow’s talk to the team after their Gonzaga upset paid off big time. Although majority of the sports world was tuned into the Syracuse-Indiana game, the Shockers continued to mow their way to victory by pounding the glass (+21 rebounding margin). Their team nickname is the Shockers, and they are living up to it by shocking the country and moving onto the Elite 8. Give La Salle some credit though by reaching the Sweet 16 as a play-in team, the farthest ever done by such a team. One Cinderella team’s season stroke midnight, while another moves on to face Ohio State with an opportunity to book tickets to Atlanta.
#4 Syracuse 61 #1 Indiana 50
Let me be the first to say I respect Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean and the turnaround he has ignited at Indiana has been remarkable, but he lost the Hoosiers this basketball game. It was as if Indiana did not practice against the Syracuse staple, the 2-3 zone. One would think Indiana would have no trouble beating the zone as they are equipped with long-range snipers in Watford and Hulls, as well as a capable passing and scoring big man in Cody Zeller. Well, the Hoosiers shot 3-15 from deep and were blocked nine times down low by a list of men including Baye-Moussa Keita, C.J. Fair, and James Southerland. Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams starred tonight in a big way by posting a career in points with 24 while only turning the ball over once. While on the season he shot an abysmal 28% from beyond the arc, tonight he went 3-6 from deep and completely took over the game. The win sets up a regular season rematch in the Big East with Cuse taking on Marquette. The Golden Eagles needed a 26-point performance from center Davonte Gardner to withstand the Orange as they took home a narrow 74-71 home win just over a month ago.
Tonight’s games feature the marquee matchup between Kansas and Michigan, the nation-shocking Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast and Florida, two Hall of Fame coaches in Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) squaring off, and number-one seeded Louisville taking on the deadly tournament sleeper Oregon. Should be a crazy Friday night in the world of March Madness.
Update on Mother’s Bracket:
Going into Thursday had 14-16 Sweet 16s; only one’s not in were Memphis and Minnesota.
After Thursday had Syracuse, Wichita St, and Marquette advancing, while losing her first Final Four team, Arizona.
Just a microcosm of this year’s college basketball season.