By Matt Ulmer and Marc Summy –
Arizona vs Duke- Duke started out strong as one of their top players shot himself out of a longtime slump. Kyle Singler hit back to back threes to give the Blue Devils a good start. Although, things looked promising at halftime with the score Duke-44, Arizona-38 the Devils were in for a rude awakening. Duke’s Nolan Smith’s NBA stock level dropped when he failed to take control of the game, like he usually does, when he scored 8 points for the whole game.The Blue Devils were then introduced abruptly to Derrick Williams. Williams, of Arizona, scored a game high 32 points and 13 rebounds. The game was in his hands after draining threes, doing jaw-dropping dunks and Duke’s players practically inviting him past them to the bucket. Final score Arizona 93, Duke 77.
Brigham Young vs Florida- Jimmer Fredette got “his” by posting 32 points. This was not enough for the Cougars to make it past the Gators as they fell 83-74 in overtime. The game just proves that an all-around solid team is better than having the nation’s best player. Fredette has had the team on his back since the beginning of the season; one can only go so far.
Butler vs Wisconsin- Butler almost dropped the game after a 20-point lead was dissolved by the dangerous shooting of Wisconsin. There was no passionate court rush by the Butler players after their 61-54 victory as they believed in themselves, each other and expected to win. The Bulldogs who are on a 12-game win streak, possess a multi-headed offense, and have a coach who always stays connected to his players, are a tough team to stop.
UConn vs SDSU – San Diego State is the team everybody was anxious to pick last night, seeing that it was their first time in over 90 years they were in the Sweet 16. Another factor that had a lot of brackets favoring UConn was none other than Kemba Walker. The guy has been amazing in post-season play and played a stellar game in last night’s 74-67 victory. D.J. Gay had the tough assignment of guarding Walker and couldn’t hold him to less than 36 points, not to mention 12 straight points in the final minutes of play. San Diego State shot an unusual 27 of 64 from the floor and 7 of 22 from downtown. They couldn’t get any rhythm or even momentum. Freshman Jeremy Lamb added 24 points to complete a 60-point combination of the teams 72 between him and partner Kemba Walker.
Last night’s games are going to be pretty hard to exceed in excitement, but there are four more match-ups tonight that will be highly anticipated battles.
There is already a #5 and a #8 seed in the Elite 8, with the potential of even more seeds 10 or above.
The first match-up tips off at 7:15 p.m. with #11 Marquette facing #2 UNC. Marquette has shocked many with their run and 1 of 2 remaining Big East teams left. If Darius-Johnson Odom plays well, look for a close game. Regular season ACC champs, UNC has a strong, quick team that’s playing better together each game. Look for North Carolina’s fast-paced offense to move on to the Elite 8.
The #12 Richmond spiders are the Cinderella team of this year’s tournament. They battle powerhouse Kansas tonight at 7:27 p.m. They have a solid group of players who work well together, but The Morris brothers of Kansas are going to pounce on them tonight.
The third game features the #4 Wildcats of Kentucky vs. the overall #1 seed Ohio State Buckeyes. Kentucky is the team that’s scaring their opponents the most with their star freshman Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. However, the Ohio State Buckeyes have Player of the Year nominee Jared Sullinger and lights-out shooters Jon Diebler and David Lighty (shot 7-7 three pointers last week). No doubt about it, close or a blowout, the Buckeyes are moving on.
The final game includes a #11 seed Virginia Commonwealth University, better known as VCU, and #10 Florida State who defeated #2 Notre Dame last week. VCU has rapidly become the team who shoots, and shoots and shoots…and makes, and makes and makes. Respect wasn’t aplenty for the Seminoles until they stopped Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansborough and the Fighting Irish. I’m sure you all remember five years ago when VCU upset Duke, look for them to keep their “Giant Killers” mentality and advance past FSU.