Now that’s more like it. After a pretty mundane first day, Friday brought some excitement. Sure there were the usual near-gigantic upsets (I’m looking at you Pittsburgh & Kansas) that didn’t pan out, but we saw No 4 Wake Forest not only get beat, but embarrassed by Cleveland State. We also saw two 12 seeds win (that’s three out of four this year), and we won’t forget No 11 Dayton and No 10 USC taking down higher seeds as well.
On top of that, three games were won in the final seconds (Siena, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin). However, the story of the day has to be about the loser of the day…the ACC conference. Three ACC teams went down today, all were higher seeds (No 4 Wake Forest, No 5 Florida State and No 7 Boston College). After two days of basketball, the ACC is 3-4.
No 13 Cleveland State over No 4 Wake Forest, 84-69
Embarrasssing. That’s all I can really say, but I’ll say more. I hope Wake Forest fans enjoyed it because you can kiss your three stars goodbye, all three will be going pro after today. In any big upset, you can always pinpoint moments in games that made the difference. In this one, it will be easy to point to the Vikings 9-0 to start the game. But that wasn’t it. The real moment was actually a six-minute span in the second half. You see, plenty of underdogs had outplayed better teams in the first half in this tournament, but the talent always overcame the feisty dogs. Wake came out in the second half with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and was playing much more aggressively. That’s when Cedric Jackson took over. He hit a two first. Wake countered with a basket, but Jackson dunked in another two. Wake countered again, but so did Jackson (three straight now). Wake was scoring, but not cracking Cleveland State’s lead. The Demons scored again, but this time Chris Moore countered with a deuce . Wake Forest again scored on a two and foul. Again, Jackson answered with his own three point shot. THEN (yep), I’m not done…Jackson stole the ball from Teague and handed the ball to Norris Cole, who scored two. Teague countered with a basket, but again Cedric Jackson scored. After 6+ minutes of basketball, Wake Forest took six shots and made five (grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring on the one miss). However, Cedric Jackson scored 11 by himself (his teammates scored four). After cutting the Vikings’ lead to seven at the 14:21 mark, the Demons now trailed by 11 with only eight to play.Wow.
No 12 Arizona over No 5 Utah, 84-71
Okay, my lesson is learned. No, not underestimating the Wildcats. Rather, giving too much love for schools in Utah. Three teams came from the Salty state and I picked all three to win. All three lost.
No 1 Louisville over No 16 Morehead St., 74-54
Morehead State shot 38% to the Cardinals 58%. That equals a 20-post. More importantly for the Cardinals though…Cleveland State & Arizona eliminated their two biggest obsticules (Wake Forest & Utah) in their half of the bracket. The highest seed the Cards will face prior to the Elite eight is No 9 Siena on Sunday.
No 9 Sienna over No 8 Ohio State
Let’s just say, God wanted the Saints to win because God hates Ohio State (in case you didn’t know already from their football team’s recent performances in the BCS games). The game needed two overtimes to decide it, but most impressively, the Saints needed last second shots in all three final periods to keep the game going and then finally win it. Kenny Hasbrouck knocked in the tying free throw with only eight seconds to play in regulation. In the first overtime, Ronald Moore hit a three with 0:03 on the clock to tie it. In the second overtime, Ronald More again hit an open shot with 3.7 seconds on the clock.
No 3 Missouri over No 14 Cornell, 78-59
These two combined for only 13 turnovers (Cornell 9, Missouri 4), so lots of shots (Cornell 64 Missouri 59), but the Tigers hit 48% to the Big Red’s 36%.
No 11 Dayton over No 6 West Virginia, 68-60
And just like that, my bracket was blown up in the first round, thanks to my continuing ignorance of picking No 6 seeds to go to the Final Four. Last year it was USC, this year the Mountaineers made me look stupid.
No 6 Arizona St. over No 11 Temple, 66-57
Could you imagine that Christmas would have one of his best games (29 points on 8-16 shooting (8-10 from the line), while Harden would have one of his worst (1-8 from the floor, 9 points), yet Arizona won by nine? Even more impressive, the Wildcats won despite only taking 39 shots.
No 1 Pittsburgh over No 16 E. Tennessee State, 72-62
With 2:49 0n the clock, the 16 seed was down by only three. How many people with Pittsburgh winning it all in their brackets were freaking? In the end, too much muscle and too much Blair; 27 points and 16 rebounds. However, next time someone says you can’t rebound against the Panthers, just remind them that the much smaller Buccaneers grabbed 19 offensive rebounds.
No 6 Marquette over No 11 Utah State, 58-57
The Golden Eagles made 11 of 14 free throws in the final four minutes to hold off a scrappy bunch of Aggies.
No 8 Oklahoma State over No 9 Tennessee, 77-75
Tennessee missed a last second three for the win, but in reality, they lost because they had no answer for Marshall Moses and Byron Eaton. The two combined to hit 15-20 shots, grab 12 boards and dish out eight combined assists.
No 2 Michigan State over No 15 Robert Morris, 77-62
We really could just write the same thing about almost all the top seeds. Underdog small school ‘X’ kept it close for a while against heavily favorite school ‘X’, but in the end, heavily favorite school ‘X’ pulled away.
No 10 USC over No 7, Boston College, 72-55
Thanks to the Trojan victory, the PAC-10 will win more games than the ACC in the first round (5-1 to 3-4). USC held BC to 32% shooting and completely shut down Tyrese Rice. The senior ended his career with only nine points on 4-11 shooting (1-6 from three). Taj Gibson had the game of the day, hitting 10-10 from the floor, scoring 24.
N0 12 Wisconsin over No 5 Florida State, 61-59
The Seminoles crushed the Badgers in the first half, leading by 12 (but it could have been more). In fact, it should have been more. The Badgers rallied in the second half as the Seminoles became a two-band team between Douglas and Singleton, who combined for 38 of the Noles 59 total points.
No 4 Xavier over No 13 Portland St., 77-59
The Musketeers advance to the second round for the sixth time in their last seven trips to the tournament, after easily disposing of the Vikings. Four players scored in double figures, as the Musketeers only turned the ball over seven times. Oddly enough, two teams played today with the nickname ‘Vikings’. Has that ever happened before? Come on, people. This sh*t is important.
No 3 Kansas over No 14 North Dakota State, 84-74
They almost did it. Like so many underdogs in this tournament, they kept it close. The Bisons were only down three, 62-59 at the 7:30 mark. However, like so many games, the talent finally took over and the defending champs took over.
No 4 Syracuse over No 14 Stephen F. Austin, 59-44
S.F. Austin Lumberjacks looked like lumberjacks instead of basketball players, after shooting a round one low, 18-73 (24.7%), including 2-21 from three.