March Madness – The Sweet Sixteen
After five glorious days of NCAA basketball, the field of 65 has been cut to 16, otherwise known as the Sweet Sixteen. Here’s Jeff Goodman’s take on the action so far…
Big East on top with five teams in Sweet 16
by: Jeff Goodman
The Big East has proven its supremacy.
It’s difficult to argue with the numbers — five teams advancing to the Sweet 16.
Pittsburgh, UConn and Louisville all won a pair of games as No. 1 seeds while Villanova and Syracuse both moved on as No. 3 seeds.
The Big 12 has three representatives while the ACC is left with just North Carolina and Duke.
Of all the Pac-10 teams to be left standing, no one figured it would be the ultimate program in instability: Arizona.
The bottom line here is that there’s no argument about which league is above the rest this season. It’s clearly the Big East with all five teams left having a legitimate chance to win two more games and get to Ford Field.
Game of the Day: This one was easy. Missouri’s 83-79 victory over Marquette in which freshman Kim English made two free throws with 5.5 seconds left. English took to the charity stripe only after J.T. Tiller injured his wrist, and knocked down both shots.
The Savior: Kim English, Missouri — The unheralded freshman scored 15 points and was 3-of-4 from long distance, but none of his shots were bigger than the two free throws he sank when he was substituted for Tiller at the line.
1. Eric Devendorf, Syracuse: The Orange junior guard scored 21 points, buried two huge 3-pointers in the last five minutes and had just one turnover in the win against Arizona State.
2. Sam Young, Pittsburgh: The senior forward carried the Panthers with 32 points and eight rebounds while playing all 40 minutes in a tight win against Oklahoma State.
3. Nic Wise, Arizona: The Wildcats’ leader was the best player on the floor and finished with 21 points, including making all 10 of his free throws, and eight assists in a 71-57 win against Cleveland State.
4. Cole Aldrich, Kansas: The Jayhawks sophomore big man went for a triple-double against Dayton with 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks.
5. Terrence Williams, Louisville: The Cardinals senior stepped up when it counted and finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds to hold off Siena.
Story of the Day: The Arizona Wildcats moving on to the Sweet 16 as the lone double-digit seed. Remember, this is a group that had to deal with the adversity of a third consecutive different head coach — and the defection of numerous recruits. Interim coach Russ Pennell and his co-coach, Mike Dunlap, have the ‘Cats moving on with a date against No. 1 Louisville.
Biggest Upset: It was an upset-free day with all the higher seeds coming out on top.
Worst rule: The college rule in which the coach gets to pick a player from the bench to substitute for a shooter if he’s injured. It’s a joke and needs to be changed. Just ask Marquette coach Buzz Williams, who watched it knock out his Golden Eagles.
Biggest disappointment: James Harden, Arizona State — The Sun Devils sophomore struggled for the second straight game and was passive and unimpressive. He finished with nine points on Friday in a win against Temple and had just 10 in the loss to Syracuse.
We’ll miss you: Marquette’s senior trio of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James. McNeal went for 30 in the loss to Missouri, Matthews added 24 and James, who wasn’t supposed to be back on the court for two months, gutted it out and played 17 minutes.
Stat of the Day: Xavier holding Wisconsin to just 28.6 percent shooting overall and 16 total field goals. The Badgers were also 3-of-20 from long distance in the loss.
Quote of the Day: “I guess their flight team, or whatever they call it, wasn’t flying,” — Kansas guard Sherron Collins on Dayton.
Best Sweet 16 matchups
1. No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Gonzaga: I love this matchup. Both teams have plenty of balance and can score with anyone. It may come down to who defends.
2. No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Syracuse: The ‘Cuse can toss a couple of bigs up against Blake Griffin, but the key will be OU’s backcourt and whether it can control Jonny Flynn.
3. No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Villanova: The two teams are loaded with talented perimeter players, but the key may be which one of Duke’s Kyle Singler and Villanova’s Dante Cunningham can shine.
Sweet 16 games begin on Thursday, March 26, 2009. Here’s a link to the updated brackets.