Higher seeds go 8-0, Syracuse and Kentucky roll, Free Plays go a perfect 4-0
On Thursday, a whopping 14 of the 16 higher seeds moved on. On Friday, it was upset city as half the higher seeds including two No.2 seeds were sent home. Saturday, it was back to status quo as all eight higher seeds moving on and also going 7-1 against-the-spread. The chalk is now 23-16-1 over the last three days and 25-18-1 for the tournament. All eight higher seeds are favored on Sunday with the most intriguing matchups Georgetown -3.5 over upstart North Carolina State and Florida State -2.5 against Cincinnati. Norfolk State and Lehigh, fresh off their upsets of Missouri and Duke, can make history today by becoming the first No.15 seeds to make the Sweet Dieciseis. Leghigh has a real shot to take down Xavier. Norfolk State has a tougher assignment facing Florida.
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In yesterday’s action …
After sleepwalking through their first round matchup with NC-Ashville, Syracuse was on upset alert by many against a big physical Kansas State. As it turned out, the Orange had no worries as the Wildcats leading rebounder and toughest front court player (Jamar Samuels) was ruled ineligible hours before the game and “The Cuse” snipers were on fire from the outside. Syracuse won going away 75-59 and winning the second half 50-35. Dion Waiters led balanced Orange scoring with 18 off the bench.
Murray State led Marquette 46-41 with 7:00 minutes left in the game but the Golden Eagles cam out of a time out with a 14-2 run to put away the Racers 62-53. Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom had 17 apiece for Marquette. Isaiah Canaan had 16 points and Ed Daniel 14 rebounds to lead 31-2 Murray State who proved that they could play with anyone. The Racers lost 54-52 to Butler in 2010.
In a game that was virtually deas even statistically, Ohio State beat Gonzaga 73-66. The Zags led 27-20 late in the first half before 10 straight points by defensive specialist Aaron Craft brought the Buckeyes back to 39-37 halftime lead. Big men Jared Sullinger and Robert Scare were both saddled with fouls early. Sullinger finished with 18 including two key baby hooks down the stretch. Sacre finished with eight points and was a non-factor.
Wisconsin and Vanderbilt was like an instant replay of Purdue at St Mary’ s the night before. The Badgers led the entire game before the Commodores took a 57-56 lead with 2:22 to play. Vandy didn’t score again as the Badgers previaled 60-57. Half of Wisky’s 60 points came from behind the arc and five Badgers were double-digit scorers. Vanderbilt’s John John Jenkins and Jefferey Taylor who combined for 43 ppg during the season, were held to 13 and 9 points respectively.
There will be no Cinderella run to the Final Cuatro this year for Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams led Indiana 57-48 with 8:00 minutes left to play and appeared entirely in control but VCU scored just four points the rest on the way. The Hoosiers were led by Christian Watford and Cody Zeller with 16 points, Will Sheehy’s jumper with 12.7 seconds left was the winner. VCU had one final chance but Rob Brandenberg’s open look at the buzzer rimmed out.
Iowa State and Kentucky played at Louisville but by the sound of the crowd, the game might as well have been played at Adolf Rupp Arena in Lexington. The Wilcats jumped out to an early lead and never looked back spanking the Cyclones 87-71. KU needed a big game from PG Marquis Teague and he delivered with 24 points and 7 assists. Anthony Davis had 15 points and 12 rebonds, Darius Miller had 19/6 off the bench. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was held to just two points but it didn’t matter in the rout.
Baylor blew Colorado 80-63 thanks to a big 43-28 second half. Baylor closed the show on a 17-3 run over the final 8:00 minutes as the Buffs just went dry. Brady Heslip has 27 points for the Bears, Pierre Jackson chipped in with 15 points and 10 assists. Baylor meets the Lehigh/Xavier winner and appears headed for a showdown in the South regional final with Kentucky.
In the Saturday night finale, Louisville head off new Mexico 59-56 in a defensive struggle. The Lobos have still never made the Sweet Dieciseis. Louisville had been struglling in February before getting on a run to win the Big East tournament. The Cards are veteran team with lots of experience and peaking at the right time. The play great defense and shoot well on occasion, Of course, they also have Rick Pitino and are headed for a showdown with Michigan State.
(CBB) South Florida -2.5 over Ohio, 7:10 PM EST
(CBB) Kansas -7.5 over Purdue, 8:40 PM EST
(NBA) Atlanta -2.5 over Cleveland, 3:05 PM EST
(NBA) Orlando +8.5 over Miami, 7:05 EST PM EST