No. 9 Temple 76, No. 8 N.C. State 72 | No. 8 North Carolina 78, No. 9 Villanova 71
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Leading Man: Duke’s Seth Curry got the Blue Devils going early with a variety of perimeter shots and buckets moving toward the rim. He was fresh, spry and played with a skip in his step in finishing with 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field, including 2-2 from 3-point range. However, Curry had to play 36 minutes because Duke couldn’t pull away from the Great Danes, so he had to stay in the game. The concern? Curry is shooting 48.3 percent when he has more than one day of rest in between games but is at just 28.9 percent with only one day or no days off between games. Duke will play Creighton with one day’s rest.
Surprise, Surprise: N.C. State was admittedly flat and unfocused in its game against Temple, which simply defies logic seeing that it was an NCAA Tournament game. Furthermore, the most active player for the Wolfpack in the first half was often-criticized junior forward C.J. Leslie. Leslie is the one whose effort was questioned and usually an unknown going into so many games, but his teammates didn’t back him early Friday and it led to their undoing. Temple was 16-for-30 from the floor overall and 5-11 from 3-point range in the first half. One TV analysts said the NCSU defenders were “late, late, late” getting on Temple’s perimeter shooters. The primary analyst called it “inexcusable.” Here Comes Trouble: Creighton didn’t beat top-seed North Carolina in the 3rd round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, but the Bluejays gave the Tar Heels a battle and banged up starting point guard Kendall Marshall, forcing him to miss the rest of the tournament. It may have cost UNC a national championship, and many of those same Creighton players are back and will battle Duke on Sunday in the 3rd round. Duke better be ready for Creighton’s physical strength, decent size, and willingness to muck it up. The Bluejays also have a great player in Doug McDermott, who can carry his team. What’s Next?: Duke (28-5) takes on No. 7 Creighton, which defeated Cincinnati, 67-63. Creighton, which will be part of the new Big East Conference, is no stranger to this setting or taking on big-time foes. The Bluejays (28-7) beat Wisconsin in the regular season and won at California. Creighton is led by Doug McDermott’s 23.1 points per game.
Miami (28-6) will face No. 7 Illinois (23-12), which knocked off Colorado 57-49. The Illini finished 8-10 in the Big Ten, but do own wins over Ohio State, Indiana and twice over Minnesota. Common opponent of note: Illinois beat Georgia Tech on a neutral floor by 13 in November, Tech beat the Hurricanes in Coral Gables. Also, Miami won at Hawaii by 15, Illinois won there by a point in overtime
North Carolina (25-10) will go up against No. 1 Kansas (30-5), which escaped Western Kentucky 64-57. That game will be in Kansas City. UNC coach Roy Williams is 0-2 against his former team in NCAA Tournament play, losing in the Elite 8 last season and beating the Tar Heels in the 2008 Final Four. That night, the Jayhawks opened up a 40-12 lead in that game but led by one point with four minutes left before pulling away.