NCAA Tournament 2012: Winners, Losers, Heroes and Goats of Day 8

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterMarch 24, 2012

NCAA Tournament 2012: Winners, Losers, Heroes and Goats of Day 8

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    The Sweet 16 is done. Over. Finito. 

    It's on to the Elite Eight now. Baylor, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas have all advanced. 

    In other words, all of Friday's games went according to plan...more or less. Baylor had a whale of a time containing Xavier after racing out to a big, early lead, North Carolina could have very easily lost to Ohio, Kentucky got all it could handle from Indiana and Kansas nearly fumbled away a late lead against NC State.

    In all, it was a fun day of basketball with a great many winners, losers, heroes and goats.

    Here's a rundown of the key storylines.

Winner: The Powers That Be

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    On Friday, four high seeds entered, and four high seeds advanced to the Elite Eight in one piece.

    We're talking about some heavy-hitters here. Both No. 1 seeds in action on Friday, Kentucky and North Carolina, are high-profile programs with great traditions and plenty of resources to lure the best recruits in the land. Kansas is another high-profile program, and Baylor is a program on the rise.

    In short, Friday was a victorious day for the powers that be in college basketball. Depending on your point of view, this is another way of saying that Friday was a victorious day for the evil powers in college basketball.

    Now would be a great time to make a John Calipari joke, but I'm a professional.

    That said, the comments section is directly below if you feel like sharing one of your own.

Loser: Cinderellas

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    Entering the day, Xavier, NC State and Ohio collectively represented hope for the possibility that a Cinderella team could yet emerge in this NCAA tournament.

    Nope. The powers that be showed off their power, and the three potential Cinderellas all went gentle into that good night.

    We're now looking at an Elite Eight field where the lowest remaining seed is a No. 7 seed. And with all due respect to the Florida Gators, they're not a Cinderella team. They've gone to three Final Fours since 2000 and won two national championships.

    On the bright side, at least most peoples' brackets are still intact. Things would be even better if Missouri and Duke had been able to make it this far.

    Though, I don't think people minded seeing the Blue Devils go up in flames.

Hero: Quincy Acy

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    In case you didn't get a chance to see it, I'll say this about Quincy Acy's performance against Xavier:

    Dude...he went off.

    All told, Acy scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. He was a highly efficient 8-of-11 from the floor.

    Of course, it's easy to be highly efficient from the floor when roughly half (more?) of your buckets come via dunks. When Acy was around the rim, the Musketeers basically just got out of the way. They were very polite.

    This was bound to happen. We all knew heading into Baylor's tilt against Xavier that the Musketeers weren't going to have an answer for Baylor's size and athleticism. It just so happens this was Acy's day to shine.

    And because he has a beard, Acy is now a cult hero. Our society has great taste.

Hero: Tyler Zeller

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    A huge fuss was made this week over Kendall Marshall's playing status, but nobody ever bothered to worry about Tyler Zeller.

    That's probably because everyone knew for a fact that Zeller was going to have his way with an undersized Ohio team. Sure enough, he did just that.

    Zeller owned the paint against the Bobcats. He led all Tar Heels scorers with 20 points and added a whopping 22 rebounds for good measure. Eight of those were offensive rebounds.

    Take Zeller out of the equation, and the Tar Heels would have gotten blown out by the Bobcats. North Carolina should hire somebody to protect his wrists at all hours.

Hero: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Thanks in large part to early foul trouble, Anthony Davis never really had a shot at playing the hero for Kentucky against Indiana on Friday night.

    Luckily for the Wildcats, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was up to the challenge.

    Kentucky's all-talented freshman recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He was 7-of-15 from the floor and made all 10 of his free-throw attempts.

    Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to be a high lottery pick in the NBA draft, and he proved why against the Hoosiers. He's a man of many talents.

Hero: Thomas Robinson

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    Thomas Robinson did not have a good game against Purdue in the Round of 32, scoring just 11 points and making two field goals.

    He made up for it on Friday night. Against a tough NC State squad, Robinson answered the call and scored 18 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. In case you're just joining us, those are very Robinson-like numbers.

    As it turned out, the Jayhawks ended up needing every point and every rebound. They barely held on to defeat the Wolfpack. Without Robinson's efforts, they wouldn't have.

    However, NC State did the Jayhawks a big favor at the end of the game. I'll get to that in just a minute.

Goat: Harrison Barnes

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    With Marshall out of the equation for Friday night's game, Harrison Barnes had the perfect excuse to have the best game of his life.

    He responded by scoring 12 points on 3-of-16 shooting. He was 2-of-9 from three and he turned the ball over five times.

    Seriously, dude?

    I'll give Barnes this much credit: He was not deterred. Despite the fact he couldn't buy a bucket on Friday night, he kept shooting.

    But with every wayward shot, the screws tightened on the Tar Heels, and Barnes' NBA draft stock fell a little further.

    Anybody want to draft an over-hyped forward who can't perform in the spotlight?

Goat: Walter Offutt

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    Walter Offutt had the game of his life against the Tar Heels, scoring a game-high 26 points. He was 10-of-18 from the field, including 6-of-10 from three.

    So why is he a goat?

    It's a pretty short story. Ohio was down, 63-61, when Offutt went to the basket, drew contact and sent home a crucial layup. The ensuing free throw would have given Ohio a 64-63 lead with mere seconds left to play.

    Offutt missed the ensuing free throw.

    Ohio went on to miss all six of its field-goal attempts in overtime and lost, 73-65.

    It wasn't all Offutt's fault, but, well...yeah...

Goat: Tyshawn Taylor

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    The Jayhawks have a hard enough time putting teams away when both Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are doing work. If one of them falters, Kansas finds itself in very tough games.

    We therefore shouldn't be surprised that Kansas had to fight until the final second to put away NC State. Taylor didn't do anything to help the cause.

    Taylor, Kansas' second-leading scorer in the regular season, scored six points against NC State. He was 2-of-14 from the field and 0-of-6 from three.

    Sure, he had 10 rebounds, but he also had five turnovers. Plus, he missed a crucial free throw that could have put Kansas up by four with seconds left in the game.

    In a word: yuck.

Goat: NC State's Late-Game Execution

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    The Wolfpack looked dead in the water against Kansas for much of the second half before going on a late run to pull within a point with over a minute to go.

    The Jayhawks were practically handing the Wolfpack the game on a silver platter. All NC State had to do was keep rolling. 

    Instead, NC State handed the game right back. The Wolfpack had numerous chances to put some points on the board in the final minute of the game, and they screwed every single one of them up.

    Most notably, they shot themselves in the foot with brutal passes in the final seconds. One forced Scott Wood to commit a key turnover. The other, which came on the game's final play, looked like it wasn't ticketed for any one player in particular.

    It was a hideous scene. Instead of accepting a trip to the Elite Eight as a gift, NC State waved it away and said, "No thanks."