That crashing sound you heard last night was two Sweet 16 teams striking the ceiling.
Good night, Syracuse. Toodle-oo, Arizona.
Blake Griffin's flattening of Jonny Flynn was a perfect metaphor for this game. The Orange just didn't have enough big bodies to hurl at Griffin, and their horrific three-point shooting spelled the end of the road. From the opening tip, they just seemed flat, spent.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, rose to the occasion, with Griffin pounding home points and Player of the Day Tony Crocker erupting for 28. With another Sooner precinct heard from, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Sooners-Tar Heels slugfest just as much as I did the UConn-Memphis matchup which didn't happen.
Thank you, WPRI-12, Providence, for switching to Oklahoma-Syracuse just before Louisville-Arizona became something we needed to shield the kids from. The Cardinals rolled out the hoop equivalent of shock and awe, and the Wildcats were simply overwhelmed. The depth wasn't there to handle the storm Rick Pitino rolled out, and this was the night two years of Lute Olson drama and its impact on recruiting finally brought down U of A.
Get your coaching house in order quickly, Arizona. Tell Russ Pennell whether he's in or out pronto. Otherwise, the 25-year tournament streak is over, and nuclear hoop winter is about to descend upon Tucson.
Speaking of storms, Gonzaga sure got caught in one. That's what 11-for-19 three-point shooting and nonstop pace will do. North Carolina looked unstoppable.
Oklahoma, we know you beg to differ. Prove to us why tomorrow.
We only batted 1-for-4 last night for Sweet 16-worthy contests. It takes a tremendous effort to oust the defending champ, and Michigan State came up with it.
While Kalin Lucas owned the final minute for Sparty, Goran Suton gets the laurels for this one. He pretty much played Cole Aldrich to a draw inside, and Spartan defense toughness pulled out the win on a night when MSU, with more than a plus-10 rebounding margin for the year, was outrebounded by Kansas 37-31. Of course, when you hit 16 of 17 free throws, you usually do win the close ones.
Suton unloaded the shot just before the halftime buzzer/red light in as close a call as you'll see. Sherron Collins misses the front end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds left. On such trifles do decisive March battles turn.
As for today:
In Boston, I'm sticking by my guns. Pittsburgh was the only top seed I didn't put in my Final Four, and the Panthers have done their best to convince me otherwise. They outlasted Xavier Thursday night in the kind of game championship teams win on their way to that climactic weekend.
But there's one flaw in this team: the prolonged hiccup. All those turnovers against East Tennessee State. No D in the first 20 minutes against Oklahoma State. The cold streak against Xavier.
You can't get away with such flaws forever. Villanova won't let them. Something tells me foul trouble takes a bite out of DuJuan Blair's tuckus.
VILLANOVA 64, PITTSBURGH 62.
Missouri played over its head, out of its mind, etc. to beat Memphis. It's going to take another game of that caliber to beat UConn.
That's not gonna happen. UConn is capable of taking it up (or down, as necessary) another notch beyond what it needed to beat Purdue. The Huskies are a reflection of their coach, and Jim Calhoun is strutting around like Robert Conrad in those old battery ads, daring anybody to knock the chip off his shoulder. Every five years, UConn gets shipped west and wins it all.
The Nate Miles business is just a little extra motivation, that's all.
CONNECTICUT 89, MISSOURI 78.