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Sunday’s Madness – From the Bird’s Nest

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Day four of college basketball junkies’ favorite weekend.

I have to admit, with  a 12:00 baseball game and an airplane flight, I got to see very little basketball, save for the app on my phone that allowed me to watch just a little.  But the stories were good.  The big boys are starting to flex…and there’s still room for the little guy.

Buzzer Beater:  There haven’t been many in this tournament, but Aaron Craft’s trifecta with 00.5 left sent Ohio State into the favorite’s role in the West Region.  Iowa State gave the Buckeyes all they wanted.  The Cyclones were the Big 12’s most impressive team except for…

Kansas:  This is the game I was able to watch.  North Carolina had their way with the Jayhawks in the first half, but Kansas came out with a vengeance at the beginning of the second half.  The Tar Heels’ nine point lead vanished about as quickly as you can say Travis Relaford, who, along with Jeff Withey, just took over in the first seven minutes of the second half.  Withey wound up with 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks.

Cinderella lives:  It’s not so much that Florida Gulf Coast is in the Sweet 16 (well, it is, since they’re the first #15 seed to get there) as it is the way they’re doing it.  They outplayed #2 Georgetown in their first game and got another double digit win against a veteran coach when they defeated San Diego State.  A 17-0 run paced the Eagles, who made it look easy.

Don’t call them Cinderella:  LaSalle was also a winner as the #13 seed, who had to survive a First Four game to get to round two.  Their two point win over Mississippi vaults the Explorers to the Sweet Sixteen.  It’s the farthest the school from Philadelphia has advanced since there were only 24 teams back in 1955.  But this is a good basketball team from a very good conference.  Wichita State better be ready.

Impressive Devils:  Duke may have had the most impressive performance of the day with their 66-50 win over Creighton.  The Missouri Valley champion was expected to maybe give Coach K’s bunch a better game, but despite shooting only 39 percent and three players in foul trouble, the Blue Devils have a date with Tom Izzo in the next round.

‘Canes get a little help?  Miami’s Shane Larkin hit a clutch three pointer to give Miami the lead with a minute left.  On the ensuing possession after a missed shot, it appeared the ball went out of bounds off a Miami player.  But the officials gave the ball back to the ‘Canes, which denied the Illini a chance to tie or win the game.

Four games Thursday night.  Marquette and Miami might not be for the faint of heart, and two storied programs meet with Syracuse taking on Indiana.  Arizona meets Ohio State and the winner will be a heavy favorite to get to the Final Four, with the winner taking on Wichita State or LaSalle.

Do we have to wait another three days?

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