Storming The Floor wraps up yesterday's games.
The Pac-10 lived up to its reputation as one of the top conferences in the nation, advancing three teams to the Sweet 16 on Saturday. Two of those wins knocked out Big East teams, as Notre Dame and Marquette were sent packing, along with Pitt. Anyone want to take odds on what Huggy Bear will be wearing as he moves on to the Phoenix site in the West bracket?
#7 West Virginia 73, #2 Duke 67
For the second straight year, the Duke Blue Devils fail to make the Sweet 16, but this year there was no Eric Maynor dagger, it was just physical, grinding, methodical Big East basketball that did them in. The Mountaineers recovered from a five-point first-half deficit behind Joe Alexander's 22 points and 11 rebounds, and held the Blue Devils to 38 percent shooting. Watch this video from the Sporting Blog to get an idea how hard this game was played. Bob Huggins gets to the Sweet 16 in his first year at his alma mater. But what of the school he left behind?
#3 Wisconsin 72, #11 Kansas State 55
OK, I guess now Michael Beasley is ready to find himself an agent. I implied in yesterday's preview that Wisconsin might not be athletic enough to contend with the Wildcats, but the Badgers gained a lead behind Travon Hughes' and showed no fear of the transition bucket thereafter. Beasley got his, of course, but the Cardinal and White advance to Detroit and the Sweet 16.
#3 Xavier 85, #6 Purdue 78
The Musketeers vs. the Mountaineers sounds like an NRA wet dream. But what it will really be is a defensive slugfest. Xavier advanced to face Bob Huggins and West Virginia after holding the Boilermakers to a very un-Purdue-like 38% - from behind the arc and overall. Xavier also got a balanced scoring attack, with C.J. Anderson and Drew Lavender both scoring 18, and Josh Duncan chipping in 16.
#4 Washington State 61, #5 Notre Dame 41
Luke Harangody had a beastly 22 rebounds to go with his 10 points, but he had the same shooting problems as the entire Irish team, which hit just 24 percent of its shots. Washington State earned its defensive reputation, while relying on the starting five for almost all of their offense. The only bench player to play more than ten minutes was Center Caleb Forest, who was also the only bench player to score for the Cougars - he had four. Washington State will face the winner of the Arkansas/UNC game in Charlotte. I can guess which one they'd prefer.
#3 Stanford, 82, #6 Marquette 81 (OT)
This was a fantastic ending to a game that featured 30-point games from Jerel McNeal and Brook Lopez, and an early ejection for Stanford coach Trent Johnson. Johnson's troops were able to rally without his fish-eyed glare, making up a five-point halftime deficit and then trading big buckets as regulation wound down. Overtime was no different, with Stanford getting the last shot into the hands of Lopez, who hit a layup over the shorter Marquette lineup with seconds left. Stanford awaits either Miami or Texas from the Sunday session.
#1 Kansas 75, #8 UNLV 56
This was a meeting of two coaches who passed in the night in 2000, as Bill Self took over the Illini program from Lon Kruger. Self moved on to Kansas shortly thereafter, while Kruger became the latest dreamer to try to turn around the Atlanta Hawks. Both men's teams locked down the perimeter, leading to a combined 28 percent night from behind the arc. Kansas solved the deadlock by slashing to the hoop, and Mario Chalmers led four Jayhawks guards in double figures, putting up 17. Kansas moves on to Detroit, where they will face an upset special - either #12 Villanova or #13 Siena will make it to the Sweet 16 today.
#5 Michigan State 65, #4 Pitt 54
Drew Neitzel and Kalin Lucas divided the backcourt scoring duties, with Lucas driving inside for 19 points, and Neitzel (21 points) going five of eight from behind the line to shoot the Spartans into the next round. Pitt's Jamie Dixon used just seven players in this game, with the bench adding just six points to the Panther total. The Spartans will face either another MSU in Mississippi State, or the high-octane Memphis Tigers.
#1 UCLA 53, #9 Texas A&M 49
After a wildly inconsistent season from the Aggies, I figured they'd get steamrolled here. But first-year A&M coach Mark Turgeon got his team to play the Bruins tough, and had a 49-all deadlock with :43 left in the game. Then Darren Collison (21 points) hit the next shot, Josh Shipp blocked A&M's attempt to answer, and Russell Westbrook slammed home the insurance points. Like Kansas before them, the Bruins await the winner of a 12/13 matchup that will be decided when miracle-shot-makers Western Kentucky and San Diego square off later today.