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  • 12:39 AM ET  03.29

Writer:  Stewart Mandel
Game: Villanova-Kansas
Post time: Friday, 7:14 p.m. 

DETROIT -- Give credit to Kansas coach Bill Self for tackling even the smallest detail in his gameplan for Friday night's Sweet 16 game against Villanova. To counteract the awkward, sunken benches here at Ford Field's makeshift basketball court, Self brought his own footstool so he could actually sit on the sideline.

"I like to sit when I coach," said Self. "I didn't think it was a major deal. I didn't fall."

Usually leaning forward, hands on his knees as if posing for a portrait, Self watched his top-seeded Jayhawks basically toy with the 12th-seeded Wildcats from the get go, converting numerous alley-oops, stifling Villanova star Scottie Reynolds (4-of-13 shooting) and shooting 53.3 percent in a 72-57 win. Guards Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers burned the Wildcats with five three-pointers in the first half to jump to a 41-22 lead, while big man Sasha Kaun pounded his way to the basket throughout the second half.

It was a typically balanced performance from the Jayhawks, which produced their third straight lopsided tourney win and 10th straight win overall.

Meanwhile, most of the NCAA-record crowd of 57,028 -- boisterous, albeit muted by the cavernous space, during the Davidson-Wisconsin game -- had either departed or gone into a coma by early in the second half. So quiet was the dome that the only audible sounds during late-game action were Self's instructions to his players and the relentless shouts of "Go KU!" from the Jayhawks' cheerleaders (one of whom was bored enough herself to appease a late-game request from a male admirer in the stands to "look up for a picture").

"There were a lot of empty seats," said the game's top scorer, Brandon Rush (16 points). "It wasn't like [Allen] Fieldhouse."

If a basketball game ever broke out in a library, this was what it would sound like -- not to mention Self's footstool wouldn't seem nearly as out of place.

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  • 07:16 PM ET  03.28

Writer:  Stewart Mandel
Game: Davidson-Wisconsin

Post time: Friday, 7:14 p.m.

DETROIT -- A pregame note to both SI.com readers and my employers: There's a better-than-average chance I will not be able to file my column from tonight's Wisconsin-Davidson game because either A) my computer will have been destroyed or B) I will be in the hospital with a severe concussion.

It's the first night of the NCAA's grand Ford Field experiment. In a preview of next year's Final Four, the NCAA for the first time has placed an elevated basketball court in the center of a football field and opened the entire dome to seating. (Normally, the court is placed on one side and half the stands are curtained off.) It's great for the organization, which will rake in a boatload from all the extra Kansas and Wisconsin fans that will now be able to get in, and it's great for the fans, who have a much better view (albeit awfully high for some) than they would have in years past.

(The strange thing is, this place has the quiet vibe of a half-empty arena -- because it is -- yet there are probably close to 40,000 people in the stands.)

As for the media? Let's just say I'm more than a little scared right now.

Because of the elevated floor, the first-row press table is literally connected to the court, with no more than five feet of black carpet separating an inbounding players' sneakers from my face. Not only does it make for an unusual view -- I should be able to provide unprecedented coverage of the players' socks -- but at some point, there is going to be a loose-ball scramble by the sideline, and at some point, one or more players are going to come barreling into some unsuspecting writer (not to mention his laptop).

Pray for us, people. Pray for us.

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  • 07:13 PM ET  03.28

Writer: Elizabeth McGarr
Post Time: Friday, 7:11 p.m.

Never mind that UCLA coach Ben Howland could be aging faster because 11 of his team's last 15 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Kevin Love, the second-youngest player on the team, doesn't know how many more close ones he can handle. "I'm getting a few gray hairs now," the freshman joked on Friday. "I'm 19 going on 67-years-old right now."

Love and his teammates may have enjoyed a pro-UCLA crowd last night but the center said he's seen fans and opposing players "showing no love to Kevin Love" and that a lot people just don't like the Bruins. "They're calling us the Duke of the West Coast," he said. "We're like the Spartans out there in [the movie] 300. We're going against everybody." And how does Love feel about being compared to Duke? "Aw, that's an insult man," he said with feigned disgust.

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  • 05:35 PM ET  03.28

Writer:  Nina Mandell
Post time: Friday, 5:27 p.m.

Just a quick post from SI.com’s New York offices …  Want to see Kevin Love before he was famous?  Check out this clip on YouTube.

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  • 03:31 AM ET  03.28

Writer: Elizabeth McGarr
Post Time: Friday, 3:30 a.m.

If you turned the UCLA-Western Kentucky game off at halftime, you missed what turned out to be a heck of a basketball game. After surviving 16-point runs in each of their first two tournament games (against No. 5 Drake and No. 13 San Diego), the Hilltoppers went on a little run of their own.

Down 21 at the half, Western Kentucky pulled to within four points after Darren Collison fouled out with 5:39 to play. The comeback came courtesy of the Toppers' suffocating press and a 12-5 run by point guard Ty Brazelton, who scored 25 of his game-high 31 points in the second half. "He got into a little zone there," said his father, Tyrone Brazelton Sr., who was cheering for his son from the second row of the Western Kentucky section.

And what else made the difference in the second half? "I mean, we just took a deep breath and calmed down and started playing for each other and wanted to go out and have fun," guard Courtney Lee explained after the game.

As they left the court after their 88-78 loss, the Western Kentucky players all acknowledged their towel-waving fans, who had done their best to out-yell the overwhelmingly blue-and-gold clad crowd. Even Big Red, the Western Kentucky mascot (who, it seems, has gotten as much publicity as the Cinderella Hilltoppers) blew the fans a kiss.

"They played UCLA," Brazelton Sr. said. "They didn't lay down and die."

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