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We have seen a lot of close ones in the opening rounds. We have seen some controversial calls, good upsets, and really stupid, game-changing fouls. The Southwest Region is a train wreck. The other three regionals nearly went chalk.
* The round of 64 had 10 games of the 32 total decided by four points or less; five of those by two.
* The round of 32 had 5 games of the 16 total decided by one or two points.
* VCU proved everybody wrong by winning 3 games easily to make it to the Sweet 16.
* Only two teams remain from the 11 in the Big East.
* My girlfriend's bracket is faring much better than mine. (Note: I take full credit for her bracket.)
I previously wrote that George Mason (8) could give Villanova (9) some problems here and they did. West Virgina (5) kept it close, but Kentucky (4) pulled it out at the end. I had WVU advancing here and felt the chances were good as Kentucky nearly lost to Princeton (13) in the round of 64; Brandon Knight who missed his first seven shots of the game, made a layup with two seconds to go to seal that one.
I also wrote Marquette (11) could go deep, and they did. Darius Johnson-Odom made a 3-pointer to break a tie with 27 seconds left and they went on to beat Syracuse by four in the round of 32. In my bracket I have Marquette over North Carolina (2) to advance to the Elite Eight. Vegas currently has UNC as a five-point favorite and I agree; it will be hard for Marquette to pull this one off.
North Carolina barely made it past Washington (7) in a controversial finish.
Teams remaining: Ohio St. (1) vs Kentucky (4), Friday 8:45 pm (CBS). North Carolina (2) vs Marquette (11) , Friday 6:15 pm (CBS). Friday's winners play Sunday at a yet to be determined time.
Outlook: I'm taking OSU and Marquette in the Elite Eight, with OSU advancing to the Final Four. North Carolina is still an X-factor. I think Marquette has a very good shot at upsetting UNC although most will disagree with me here. I still don't see OSU losing in this region.
I previously wrote that Missouri (11) could beat Cincinnati (6) and that Memphis (12) could beat Arizona (5), neither of which happened. Michigan (8) was down by 15 points at one point against Duke (1) in the round of 32 and got it back to within one point twice late in the game. They had a chance to put it into overtime or win on the last possession but missed.
Texas (4) lost a controversial one to Arizona. A controversial five-second violation amidst an attempted timeout call, followed by a foul that UT player Jordan Hamilton says he never felt. UT got hosed here - but in scenarios like these it's still the team's fault for getting themselves into a situation that allows for a potentially stupid call to be missed. Play a little bit better and you control your own destiny.
I had Texas over Duke in a Sweet 16 match-up that we will not be able to see. I previously wrote SDSU (2) shouldn't have problems making it to at least the Sweet 16 and they did. Unfortunately in my bracket I had Temple (7) advancing here instead.
Teams remaining: Duke (1) vs Arizona (5), Thursday 8:45 pm (CBS). SDSU (2) vs Connecticut (3), Thursday 6:15 pm (CBS). Thursday's winners play on Saturday with tipoff times TBD.
Outlook: I didn't expect Duke to make it to the Elite Eight as I initially thought Texas would be in the Sweet 16. Also we did not know that Kyrie Irving was going to be back from injury and available. Given Irving's status and that they play Arizona, I'm taking Duke in this match-up.
I'm taking Connecticut over SDSU, and then over Duke to get into the Final Four, regardless of Irving's status.
Did I say train wreck? This region was a catastrophe for most brackets. Kansas (1) is the only team remaining that is not a double-digit seed. Louisville (4) lost to Morehead St (13) by one point. Kenneth Faried, whom many are declaring a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft, grabbed 17 rebounds. Terrance Hill had 23 points on 5 of 6 from three-point range.
I didn't think Illinois (9) would win a game. They took one over UNLV (8) and then attended their own funeral against Bill Self and Kansas.
Richmond (12) defeated Vanderbilt (5), which I didn't see coming. This is your 12/5 upset for the tournament; the Spiders then defeated Morehead State.
I had Texas A&M (7) going to the Elite Eight as long as they could get past Florida St (10), which I previously warned about as a possible upset alert. FSU beat A&M and is now in the Sweet 16.
Purdue (3) lost to VCU (11) and Notre Dame (2) lost to FSU on the same night, along with Illinois, to take all our local schools out of contention. VCU proved they deserve their tournament bid with a Sweet 16 appearance. I was wrong about VCU and Georgetown, as VCU advances.
Richmond and VCU are both located in Richmond, VA. This would be an interesting Elite Eight match-up for the locals there; winner takes a Final Four bid. I don't see either one advancing though.
Teams remaining: Kansas (1) vs Richmond (12), Friday 6:27pm (TBS). Florida State (10) vs VCU (11), Friday 8:57pm (TBS). Friday's winners play on Sunday with tipoff times TBD.
Outlook: Kansas will even up their all-time record against Richmond to 1-1 with an easy victory here. The Morri' are just too much to handle. FSU has a special player in Michael Snaer. I'm taking FSU over VCU, which by the way is the first 10 vs. 11 match-up in NCAA history, according to STATS. Kansas over FSU to get their 14th Final Four bid.
Pitt (1) loses to Butler (8) in probably the most bizarre ending to a college basketball game I have ever seen. Butler was already dead and buried by some coming into the tournament; a repeat of last year's success would not happen nor would it be close. Butler squeaks by a tough Old Dominion (9) team in the round of 64, to meet Pitt. The game ended with both teams committing arguably the most stupid fouls in tournament history. Putting your opponent on the line with the clock stopped at 1.4 seconds to go and giving them two shots when they are down by one is dumb. Making the first free throw to tie and then fouling on the rebound of the second free throw nearly 90 feet away from their basket is dumber. Butler made the first to break the tie, missed the second on purpose and time expired. Wow.
I thought Utah State (12) was going to be to much for Kansas State (5) but that was not the case. Jacob Pullen willed the team into the round of 32 and nearly carried the entire team past Wisconsin (4) with lights out shooting right up until the end, but it wasn't enough.
St. John's (6) laid an egg and hosed this regional part of my bracket; I had them in the Elite Eight. Watch this team closely over the next couple years, they will continue to improve.
BYU (3) defeated Gonzaga (11) to get to the Sweet 16. Michigan State (10) nearly came back but lost to UCLA (7). I had MSU in the Sweet 16 and was wrong about that one. Florida (2) defeated UCLA and will face BYU. I still think Florida is overrated.
Teams remaining: Wisconsin (4) vs Butler (8), Thursday 8:57pm (TBS). Florida (2) vs BYU (3), Thursday 6:27pm (TBS). Thursday's winners play on Saturday with tipoff times TBD.
Outlook: They say the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long and I believe Butler's time is up, thanks to a more consistent back court for Wisconsin. Wisconsin over BYU to get into the Final Four. Gone are the days where one really talented player can pull an entire team to the FF and beyond.
Nick's preview, when things still made sense:
* The Ball Is Round: Your Beachwood Bracket Packet.
Also by Nick Shreders:
* Beachwood Inn Review: The Women's Bathroom
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