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March Madness Blog – Sweet 16 Thursday night games

Considering the madness that has happened in the NFL with Peyton Manning, Sean Payton, and Tim Tebow, it seems like the NCAA tournament has been a little overlooked. But hype or no hype, it’s here, and it should be good. We still have the heavyweights (Syracuse, UNC, Kentucky) and we still have some underdogs (NC State, Ohio, Xavier) which always gives us good storylines and teams to root for. Let’s get to the action.

#1 Syracuse vs. #4 Wisconsin EAST REGION

Final Score: 64-63 Syracuse

Observations:

- In the upset of the tournament, a game between Syracuse and Wisconsin got into the 60’s.

- Wisconsin’s ball movement was phenomenal last night, as they were able to pass in and  around Syracuse’s 2-3 zone to get open looks. There were 15 assists for the Badgers.

- Wisconsin had a chance to win the game at the end, as they got the ball with about 19 seconds left, but Syracuse forced Jordan Taylor to take a highly contested 28-footer, and it fell woefully short. The Badgers got the board and had a chance to get the tip in, but it went awry as well.

Key Stats: 

- 13 threes made by Wisconsin, shooting at a 51 percent clip.

- Syracuse shot 55 percent from the field, and Wisconsin shot 42 percent.

Otto the Orange: Otto the Orange has to be the least intimidating mascot ever. I mean, we eat oranges! There’s no fighting spirit from an orange!

Player of the Game: C.J. Fair. Fair was the only Orange player to get more than five rebounds. He’s helping fill the void on the boards.

Up next for Syracuse: Ohio State

Syracuse will really wish they had Fab Melo when they go up against the Buckeyes. Guarding Jared Sullinger is a chore, and it doesn’t help when you are missing your most talented big man.

#1 Michigan State vs. #4 Louisville WEST REGION

Final Score: 57-44 Louisville

Observations:

- This game was ugly. That’s what I observed.

- After one half, the Spartans only had 18 points. That’s not what you expect from a No. 1 seed.

- You would think that the Cardinals would have had a big lead at halftime, but they were only up five, as they had just 23 points in the half.

- Draymond Green and Brandon Wood were the only Spartans to score in double figures, and it wasn’t close. Only Keith Appling had more than four for the rest of Michigan State’s roster.

Key Stats: 

- Michigan State shot just 28 percent from the field.

- Draymond Green had 16 rebounds. The rest of his team had 14.

- Louisville PG Peyton Siva had nine assists.

Pitino in the Sweet 16: After tonight’s win, Louisville coach Rick Pitino now has a 10-0 record in the Sweet 16. That’s mind boggling!

Player of the Game: Gorgui Dieng. Dieng did his best Dikembe Mutombo impression, blocking seven shots. His defense was exceptional and the difference in the game. He also pulled down nine boards.

Up next for Louisville: Florida (not the rapper)

Louisville will face a much more potent offense in the Florida Gators. Florida has a lot of good outside shooters and if they get hot, can shoot you out of the gym.

#2 Ohio State vs. #6 Cincinnati EAST REGION

Final Score: 81-66 Ohio State

Observations:

- This was a game of runs. Ohio State was up 12 at the half, but Cincinnati made a run early in the second half had a four point lead with 11:34 to play. However, the Bearcats could not sustain it. Ohio State then went on a 17-1 run to take a 65-53 lead with about five minutes left to play.

Key Stats:

- Just eight points off the bench for Cincinnati.

- Cincinnati had 18 turnovers.

- Thirteen steals for Ohio State.

- Four players in double digits for the Buckeyes.

- Twenty-six points and seven rebounds for Deshaun Thomas.

Dennis Rodman reference: I’m not quite sure how the conversation got there, but Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery mentioned something about the time Dennis Rodman wore a wedding dress. Here’s a better Dennis Rodman memory: Rodman teaming up with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to take on “The Mailman” Karl Malone and Diamond Dallas Page in WCW (skip to the six minute mark)…

Player of the Game: Jared Sullinger. Sullinger was very good last night, notching yet another double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Up next for Ohio State: Syracuse

Two heavyweights in college basketball will spar Saturday for a spot in the Final Four. The Buckeyes have a chance to get back for the first time since the Greg Oden-Mike Conley team who lost to the Joakim Noah-led Florida Gators in 2007. It’s hard to believe that Oden is currently on no one’s NBA roster right now.

#3 Marquette vs. #7 Florida WEST REGION

Final Score: 81-66 Ohio State

Observations:

- I was keyed in on the Ohio State-Cincinnati game, so I missed the run the Gators went on in the second half.

- Buzz Williams took a lot of timeouts in the second half in an attempt to get it turned around, but the Golden Eagles just didn’t have it last night.

Key Stats: 

- Just 30 percent from the field for Marquette.

- Florida had nine blocks.

- Just 7 for 27 from three for the Gators. They will need to shoot better against Louisville.

Tim Tebow: I’m pretty sure the Gators summoned all of the power of Tebowmania to win this one. Just saying.

Player of the Game: Bradley Beal. Beal carried the Gators offense and stuffed the stat sheet. Beal had 21 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Up next for Florida: Louisville

Florida coach Billy Donovan will face his former mentor, Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Can the apprentice beat the master? I have a feeling it won’t be as easy as Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan in Star Wars Episode IV. (Yeah, yeah, a pro wrestling and a Star Wars reference all in one night. What a nerd.)

Uncommon Challenge