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Big East decimated after first weekend
The Big East is going down. Hard.
Everyone was talking about the league all season long and its power in numbers, but now the conference has just two teams left standing following Notre Dame’s loss to Florida State.
It could have been one if not for the fact that Marquette played Syracuse – and one of those Big East teams automatically advanced.
There were a record 11 teams from the conference that got bids, but nine have been knocked out in the first week of play.
Here’s the rest of the Sweet 16 by league:
ACC – 3
Big Ten – 2
SEC – 2
Big East – 2
Mountain West – 2
Big 12 – 1
Pac-10 – 1
A-10 – 1
CAA – 1
Horizon - 1
Game of the Day: Arizona’s victory over Texas. The Longhorns had the ball and were up two points, but freshman point guard Cory Joseph was called for a five-second violation. Wildcats sophomore forward
Big Shot: Duke freshman Kyrie Irving hadn’t hit a field goal the entire game, but he stepped up and delivered a huge 8-foot floater with 32 seconds left that gave the Blue Devils a 72-69 lead. Irving missed 26 games with a toe injury before coming back just two days prior against Hampton.
The Savior: John Henson – We gave him our national defensive player of the year award for a reason. He’s long – and his length paid off when he deflected Justin Holliday’s inbounds pass in the closing seconds and the ball was controlled by North Carolina, which turned a one-point lead into the final three-point margin.
2. Bradford Burgess, VCU – The Rams pulled yet another upset and Burgess led the team with 23 points and eight boards.
3) Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette – DJO nailed a big 3-pointer late and finished with 17 points for Buzz Williams’ team.
Story of the Day: Three double-digit seeds all advanced to the Sweet 16 – No. 10 Florida State and a pair of No. 11’s – VCU and Marquette. The trio joins No. 12 Richmond as the four so-called underdogs that remain alive.
Biggest Upset: Two nights after pounding Georgetown, VCU earned this honor again – this time after a resounding 94-76 victory over Purdue. Burgess led Shaka Smart’s team with 25 points and point guard Joey Rodriguez added 12 points and 11 assists.
Most Impressive: Ohio State – The Buckeyes blew out a George Mason team that has been as hot as just about anyone the past couple months. Lighty couldn’t miss from deep and both Jared Sullinger and William Buford both added 18 points for Thad Matta’s team.
Most Unimpressive: Texas – The Longhorns were far more talented than Arizona at just about every spot, but it was the Wildcats who advanced to the Sweet 16.
Under the Radar: Marquette – Buzz Williams has the Big East’s final team that got into the field into the Sweet 16. Williams’ team plays hard and we all talk about the no-names on the Eagles, but these guys have some talent – led by Jimmy Butler and Johnson-Odom.
Best Sweet 16 matchup: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4. Kentucky, Friday in Newark – There’s no shortage of talent in this matchup, but the key might be how Wildcats coach John Calipari chooses to try to defend Buckeyes big man Sullinger: Do you play him 1-on-1 with Josh Harrellson or double Sullinger and leave other guys open.
Never would have thought: That VCU would put up 94 points against Purdue. The Boilermakers are known for their tough, hard-nosed stingy defense, but the Rams had no difficulty putting points on the board.
Shocking Decision: That Washington coach Lorenzo Romar would have given the ball to Venoy Overton instead of Isaiah Thomas with the game on the line. Romar said afterwards that he would have given to it Thomas if he had an opportunity to do it all over again.
Stat of the Day: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski won his 900th game and moved two victories away from tying his mentor, Bob Knight, for the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach in D-1 history.
Quote of the Day: “That’s a point guard’s point guard. He is a coach’s dream. He’s not concerned about the perception. He’s all about his team.” – Washington coach Lorenzo Romar after watching UNC’s Marshall dish out 14 assists.
Can’t wait for the Sweet 16:
1) No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Kentucky, Friday at 9:45 p.m. ET in Newark – These might be the two most talented starting five’s in the country.
2) No. 2 Florida vs. No. 3 BYU, Thursday at 7:27 p.m. ET in New Orleans – A rematch of last year’s first-round game in which The Jimmer went for 37 points and the Cougars knocked off Florida.
3) No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Butler, Thursday at 9:57 p.m. ET New Orleans – Bo Ryan’s Badgers will get their shot against Brad Stevens and last year’s Cinderella story.
4) No. 10 Florida State vs. No. 11 VCU, Friday at 9:57 p.m. ET in San Antonio – One of these double-digit seeds will move a step away from the Final Four.
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