Sweet Sixteen set:
After four days of March Madness, one thing is certain: Nothing is certain.
Four days of buzzer beaters, last minute heroics and the occasional blowout made for some good television over the weekend.
Now we look ahead to the Sweet Sixteen.
Thursday’s games feature the Southeast and West Region semifinals:
Seeds remaining: 2, 3, 4, 8
Butler’s last second win over #1 seed Pittsburgh is the only thing keeping this bracket from winding up according to form. Butler got a buzzer beater to win on Thursday and then used a foul call in the last microsecond to upend Pitt. The national heads, as always, are trying to make a controversy over the finish of that game, where two fouls were called in the last 1.5 seconds. But the officials were consistent. Look at it this way. Butler scored with two seconds left to take the lead. If no fouls are called, Butler wins. Two fouls were called: Butler still wins. I don’t see a controversy there.
Butler will meet #4 Wisconsin in the regional semifinals in New Orleans on Thursday. Wisconsin got a blocked shot late to turn away Kansas State. The Badgers are the best free throw shooting team in America and that’s something to remember in a close game.
The other semifinal will feature #2 Florida against #3 BYU. Florida has looked very good in its two wins in the tournament. And BYU, led by the incredible Jimmer Fredette, has a surprisingly easy time against Gonzaga. I didn’t expect either team to survive round two. That should be an interesting game, and an opportunity for Louisiana basketball fans to see a great player in the Crescent City this Thursday night.
Out West, Arizona’s nail biter over Texas was the only game that kept the bracket from going according to seed. #s 1, 2, 3 and 5 have advanced. Arizona will take on Duke, who was fortunate to win Sunday against Michigan. The Wolverines came back from the dead, but missed an open jumper that would have forced overtime. I don’t know if Arizona matches up as well with the Blue Devils as Texas would have.
Connecticut has been impressive in its two wins; a blowout of Bucknell and a win over Cincinnati. They’ll face a San Diego State team that had to go double overtime to beat Temple. I have to give UCONN credit. I didn’t think they could carry the momentum from their Big East tournament championship over into two rounds of the tournament, but they’ve really responded well. Although I had them going out early in my bracket, I think they’ve got a great chance to get to the regional final.
Friday’s Sweet Sixteen games are great if you still love Cinderella, especially in the Southwest. Kansas has flexed its muscle in their two wins and now they look at three double-digit seeds in their regional. #12 Richmond is next for the Jayhawks after handling Morehead State in the second round. The other game has Florida State, who was very impressive in their win over Notre Dame, taking on the team that didn’t belong in the tournament, if you believe Bilas the Shill on ESPN. Virginia Commonwealth has already won three games in the tournament, but shouldn’t have been selected, right??
Although I’m enjoying VCU’s run, they’ll have a really tough game against FSU, who defends extremely well and now seems to have found an offense to go with it.
The final region also was close to being according to seed: Marquette’s mild upset of Syracuse gives the East region a double digit seed in the Sweet Sixteen. But is anyone going to touch Ohio State? Kentucky will give it a try, but the Buckeye’s look like a team that will be playing for it all.
Marquette doesn’t match up poorly with North Carolina, who beat Washington in a very entertaining game.
On Thursday, the West Region games will be on CBS, with the Southeast on TBS. On Friday, the East region games are on CBS, with TBS handling the Southwest.