I LOST MY DOG IN THE FIGHT: North Carolina, for the 2nd straight time, looked really bad in the tournament. The Heels looked like they'd run away with it...with their pressure and energy to start the game [and got 'em a 18-5 lead]. That went out the window, for some reason. Well, the reason was George Mason's zone. The zone locked out Tyler Hansbrough, which allowed the Heels to fire up horrible perimeter shots. Also, the Heels had difficulty getting to the line....shooting only four FTs. I said before the tournament that this Carolina team exceeded expectations for me this year...and a 2nd round appearance was suitable for me. I'm not gonna slit my wrists on this one. We won the title last year...and, if our freshmen all come back...we will most likely be one of the favorite to win it next year [that recruting class is awesome]. But, it does chap me a bit, since things laid out nicely for the Heels. Murray State, George Mason and Wichita State was a nicer than expected road before having to link up with UConn for a Final Four berth. But, the team played bad....and G-Mason played well, expecially on defense and they were so poised down the stretch. Good luck to the Patriots! Of course, this means that either George Mason or Wichita State will be in the Elite 8. Wow!
THE OTHER NC LOST TOO: In less of a shocker, NC State was smacked by Texas....making the ACC 6-2 in the tournament. It was just a matter of Texas flexing their muscles at the Pack. If we do see a Duke-Texas regional final....it could be a doozy!
UCONN-KENTUCKY WAS A GOOD ONE: UConn led Kentucky virtually the whole game....but they could never shake the Wildcats. Kentucky fans love to diss Tubby Smith, but I think he did a heck of a job with this team. The team lacked talent and leadership....and until Morris came back they lacked any inside game. They stayed with the Huskies until the end which is a testament to their not wanting to quit. But I love this UConn team and think they have what it takes to win the whole thing. Well, if they actually decided to put it all together for an entire game.
BRAD PITT AT THE NCAA TOURNY: Some feel that Bradley was the last at-large team in the field...which may be true. Their #13 seed says as much. But they've looked great....in every way. First they pop Kansas....and now they pop Pittsburgh. And this isn't as Cinderella like as you may think. Or maybe it is? This team was 8-6 and dead in the water at the midway point of the season. But a 14-4 run that continues, along with a strong showing in the MVC tournament got the Braves in and keep them chugging along to the Sweet 16. But, this is a good team. They have a big man in the middle that can dominate, Patrick O'Bryant...the perfect name for St Patrick's Day weekend, along with unspectacular guards that just take care of the ball. So, the MVC has as many teams in the Sweet 16  as the ACC and Pac 10....and two more than the Big Ten. The Brad Pitt reference comes from my wife....who noticed that the score in the lower right corner of the screen read BRAD PITT. Good call, hon!
MEMPHIS ADVANCED TOO: Don't forget about the Tigers. They, Florida and West Virginia have impressed me most during this first weekend. The fact that they discarded Oral Roberts and Bucknell doesn't give them much attention....but this is a team that looks like a Final Four team right now. They get Bradley next.
WILDCAT PARTY: Villanova, like UConn, just motors on. In a tough 1-8 matchup, Arizona stuck with Nova but it was 3-pt shooting that did them in. They both shot 17-of-20 from the line. Their assists and rebounds were virtually identical [Nova had two more rebounds, two less assists]. They both made 28 shots [despite Arizona getting 13 more attempts]. So the capper was the shooting behind the arc. Arizona shot 5-of-17 from deep....Nova shot 9-of-19. Four extra points. Villanova won 82-78. Or you could say the bench made the difference. Nova's bench scored a grand total of 6 points. Well, Arizona's bench didn't score at all. There ya go.
THE LAST BIG TEN TEAM GOES DOWN: Ohio State was handled by G'town [one of my surprise teams to make a run....okay, so was Pitt] which meant there are no more Big Ten teams left. The conference that was rated #1 by the RPI is gone. There is a Colonial team....a WCC team...a Conference USA team...two Missouri Valley teams. No Big Ten teams. This one year after the conference had 3 of the Elite 8 and two of the Final Four. And let me tell ya now, that Florida-Georgetown game will be off the chains!
GOODBYE NORTHWESTERN STATE: NW State embodies the tournament. A rag tag team that suffered lows not to long ago to make a magical moment in the tournament. For two days, we get to bask in their gleeming smiles and they get their 15 minutes of fame in from of the CBS and ESPN nation. So, it does hurt when that team gets manhandled in their next outing....this time to West Virginia. Goodbye NW State...and thanks for that great moment in the 2006 Tournament. At least for now.
SO, WHAT DO WE GOT???: With all these upsets and the like....here is my rankings of the Games To Watch during the Sweet 16
8. Wichita State-George Mason: Yeah, they are mid majors...but this should be a great game. They met during Bracket Busters weekend with Mason winning in Wichita by a 3-pt shot at the buzzer. This game will also be in G-Mason's backyard.
7. Memphis-Bradley: Memphis faces their 3rd straight mid-major in their quest for the Final Four.
6. Texas-West Virginia: That huge Texas frontcourt has gotta go out and guard that hot shooting and carefree Mountaineers team. Should be interesting.
5. Florida-Georgetown: Two big teams fighting it out.
4. Duke-LSU: Big Baby v Sheldon.
3. UConn-Washington: Two teams that can go up and down the court all day. Also, two of the best wing players in the nation with Rudy Gay and Brandon Roy.
2. Villanova-Boston College: Two former Big East foes going at it. BC is playing really well right now...and remember, virtually this same BC dominated the Big East last year.
1. UCLA-Gonzaga: Adam Morrison said it best that it's rare to see two West powers go at it in the tournament....in Oakland no less. Should be a classic!