NCAA BK

Best of Saturday at the Elite Eight

Jon Crispin on Syracuse's Elite Eight win over Marquette.
Jon Crispin on Syracuse's Elite Eight win over Marquette.
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Dunk City turned to Clunk City in the Sweet 16, but Wichita State's Cinderella run is still going strong.

The Shockers became the first No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four, shutting down Ohio State in the first half and then holding off a furious Buckeyes rally for an historic win.

Wichita State joined Syracuse in the Final Four after the Orange, on a tear since the Big East Tournament, gave its Big East rival and its star, Vander Blue, fits with its defense in a 55-39 win. President Barack Obama was on hand in DC to watch the Orange punch its first ticket to the Final Four since 2003.

Let the trash talk begin. D-Wade, where you at?

 

 

With Wichita State making its first trip to the Final Four since 1965 — and only second in school history — let's look at the biggest Cinderellas of the past 20 years.

Only three lower seeds have reached the Final Four: LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011. No team seeded lower than 8 has made it to the national championship game. Butler lost as an 8 seed in the 2011 championship game and Villanova won the 1985 championship as an 8 seed, the lowest seed to win the title.

In the opener, Marquette scored seven points in the first 14 minutes ... and had zero first downs. This is Big East basketball at its most brutal. The most entertaining thing of the first half was the new "It's Not Complicated" commercial featuring Magic, Kareem, Bird and Bill Russell.

CBS' Rachel Nichols reported that Marquette's Chris Otule, who serenaded her with "The Girl is Mine" after their Sweet 16 win, was given a special assignment by his teammates. Otule, who has a glass eye, was told that if the game came down to a free throw by the Orange, he needed to take the eye out and distract the shooter. Now that's coaching.

 

 

How would you do against defense like this, Brittney Griner?

 

And while we're on the subject of the women's tourney, we'll say a sad goodbye to Elena Delle Donne after Delaware was ousted by Kentucky, despite Delle Donne beasting with 33 points. We're gonna miss seeing the big blonde on the highlight shows.

Since we won't see Marquette coach Buzz Williams dance again, we'll take one last look.

Florida will play Michigan on Sunday in the Elite Eight. (Watch a preview here.) The Wolverines staged a rally and downed top-seeed Kansas, 87-85, on Friday in overtime behind star point guard Trey Burke, who forced OT with the biggest shot of the tournament:

Duke also is back in the Elite Eight. The Blue Devils proved Tom Izzo's kid right and sent Michigan State home Friday. Seth Curry is putting on a show, scoring 29 points in the 71-61 win. Now Coach K is one win from his 12th Final Four appearance, which would tie John Wooden's record for a coach. He is tied for second with North Carolina's Dean Smith.

Coach K and Duke will face Rick Pitino and Louisville. (Watch a preview here.) The Cards are the last No. 1 seed alive after ousting 12-seeded Oregon, 77-69 on Friday. Sad to be taking our last look of the season at the Ducks cheerleaders:

Oh what the heck. Let's take another look.

HEY, UCLA FINALLY HAS A COACH AGAIN

The Bruins got their man — on the third try — on Saturday as they announced New Mexico's Steve Alford will replace Ben Howland on the bench.

Alford had a 155-52 record in six years with the Lobos in the Mountain West, but his third-seeded team was bounced from the tourney by Harvard in the first round.

Read more ...

 

 

At least one former Bruin questioned hiring an Indiana guy:

 

 

Read more reactions to UCLA's hire here.

IF YOU MISSED IT FRIDAY...

It wasn't quite midnight in the Central time zone, but the clock struck 12 for Florida Gulf Coast on Friday night against Florida.

FGCU soared to an early 11-point lead before the magic run went south at Cowboys Stadium. Florida used a 16-0 run at the end of the first half to take the lead and went on to a 62-50 win.

''When they started their run, we didn't have the energy we had in the other two games,'' FGCU coach Andy Enfield said. ''We weren't playing with the same fire we were before.''

Just when you thought the Eagles had another stunner up their sleeve — two tournament wins and Amanda Marcum make three — that sound you heard was  the glass slipper (stiletto?) shattering.

So does Enfield return to FGCU or will he use this to head off for greener bucks? Hey, with a model for a wife, he'd have been reality TV-ready if he landed the UCLA job.

Either way, we're gonna miss Ms. Marcum for the rest of the postseason. (Mrs. Enfield, not so much.) One last look:

Florida had its own dreamer: Mike Rosario, a Rutgers transfer, who had 15 points and five rebounds Friday. And add this playground-smarts play to his highlight reel.

 


 

Tagged: Marquette, Louisville, Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, Duke, LSU, Florida, Ohio, Wichita State, Davidson, Duquesne, Syracuse, Miami (FL), Kansas, Elijah Johnson, Durand Scott, Chris Otule, Seth Curry, Reggie Johnson, Raphael Akpejiori, Jerry Jones, Vander Blue, Davante Gardner, Aaron Craft, Russ Smith, Victor Oladipo

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