Louisville and Ohio State punch Final Four Tickets

Cards rally to close out Florida on an 18-3 run, Buckeyes punish Syracuse on the boards … Baylor vs Kentucky and Kansas vs North Carolina round out Final Four today

Down 11 points with 10:56 to play and their best player saddled with four fouls, it din’t look good for the Louisville Cardinals but …. Florida went cold and Louisville got hot storming back for 72-68 win. The white-hot Gators went 8-11 from downtown in the first half enroute to a 41-33 halftime lead but the Gators went 0-9 from behind the arc the rest of the way and went 0-7 with a turnover in their final eight possessions. With Payton Silva in foul trouble early, Russ Smith came off the bench to lead Louisville with 19 points. Chane Bahanan had his best game chipping in with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Rick Pitino improved to 7-0 lifetime against his former player Billy Donovan and could set up an epic matchup with Kentucky in the National semis if the Wildcats take care of business today.

Syracuse’s achilles heal all season has been rebounding and the Orangemen figuted to have problems against the frontcourt of Ohio State. They did …. getting outrebounded 37-22 including 13-6 on the offensive boards and that was the difference in a 77-70 Buckeye victory. Both teams shot 41% from the field and OSU’s 31-20 edge at the foul line was mainly thanks to a late Buckeye parade to the foul line. Jared Sullinger led four Buckeyes in double figures with 19 points. Brandon Triche led Syracuse with 15 points. Ohio State awaits the winner of Kansas and North Carolina in the other half of the National semis.

In the today’s other half of the Great Eight, in the South Region in Atlanta, Baylor meets Kentucky in a 2:20 PM EST tip. The Wildcats are eight point favorites and the total (which opened at 146) has been up to 148 1/2. In the Midwest Region in St Louis, No.2 Kansas takes on No.1 North Carolina. The Jayhawks are 1 1/2 point favorites over the injury plagued Tar Heels, the total has held steady at 144 across the board. UNC PG Kendall Marshall practiced lightly on Saturday and he’ll be a gametime decsion for Roy Williams. The game tips at 5:05 PM EST.

Dallas, San Antonio, and the Knicks head Saturday NBA winners

With six teams withing two games for the final five playoff spots in the NBA West, every game counts, especially the head-to-heads. The Mavericks came up big on the road with a 101-99 OT win at Houston. Dirk had 31 points and 7 rebounds for Dallas. San Antonio held off New Orleans 89-86 led by DeJuan Blair’s 23 markers and seven boards. The Knicks are now 6-1 under Mike Woodson after crushing Detroit 101-79. New York is now a game and a half clear of Milwaukee for the eight and final playoff spot in the East. The Bucks were trounced at home 125-104 by the Pacers in the first battle this year between teams playing on three straight nights. Chicago beat Toronto 102-101 in OT on a Luol Deng putback at the buzzer. The Nets spanked Charlotte and Golden State held off Sacramento in other finals.

The Miami Heat take on the Thunder in Oklahoma City tonight at 8:05 PM EST in what could be an NBA Finals previelw. The Thunder are -1.5 and th total 201 1/2.

Sid the Kid ends goaless drought in 8-4 Pens loss

Sidney Crosby snapped a personal 13-game goaless drought, six since coming off the IR after sufferning his latest bout of post-concussion symptoms, scoring in a Pittsburg 8-4 loss at the Ottawa Senators. The Pens fell three points behind the Rangers for top spot in the East after the Broadway Blues beat Toronto 4-3 in a shootout. Dallas beat Calgary 4-1 to remain tied with Phoenix for the top spot in the Pacific. The Coyotes got an all important point in a 4-3 SO loss at San Jose. The Sharks are now within a point of Dallas and Phoenix. The Kings suffered a costly 4-2 home loss to Boston and are tied with San Jose in the four-team division logjam. Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay Buffalo, and Vancouver rounded out the winners on Sunday’s frozen pond.

Tiger leads after three rounds at Bay Hill

Tiger Woods is in position to win his first sanctioned tour event since the 2009 Australian Masters as he takes a one-shot lead into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hills. The win would be the 72nd of his career and his seventh Invitational. Woods will be partnered with Graeme McDowell in the final pairing. When Tiger has led going into Sunday, he’s failed to close just four times. Ernie Els, Ian Poulter, Sean O’Hair, and Zach Johnson are other notables within five shots.

Free Plays

(CBB) Kansas -2 over North Carolina, 5:05 PM EST

(NBA) Atlanta -1.5 over Utah

(NBA) Portland -9 over Golden State

(NHL) Chicago -137 over Nashville