This weekend, four teams punched their ticket to New Orleans and a trip to the Final Four of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. But this is sports, and when one teams wins big, another team loses even bigger.
Such was the case Saturday and Sunday night, as the field of eight was soon whittled down to just four. Of course, the teams that lost gained that dubious distinction for a reason. They just were not New Orleans material. Some teams suffered down the stretch, while others just crashed and burned.
The Elite Eight was littered with disappointing performances. Here are the five worst.
The Syracuse Orange needed both Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine in order to beat Ohio State, as stud Fab Melo was out for the whole NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, Joseph decided not to show up.
The senior was on a completely different page than the rest of the team and failed to make a three-pointer or register an assist.
He led the team in turnovers (four) and was only able to pull down two rebounds and one block. The Orange definitely suffered from the poor performance of Joseph.
Florida in the Second Half
Anyone who watched the Louisville Cardinals and the Florida Gators duke it out on Saturday evening witnessed a great comeback by Louisville. But they also saw a huge collapse by the Gators.
Billy Donavon’s boys went into the locker room up 41-33. What followed was the worst nightmare for Gator Nation.
At one point in the second half, Florida had an 11-point lead and blew it. The game seemed to be in reach for the Gators after Peyton Siva fouled out, but they were unable to capitalize on that opportunity.
They only managed 27 points in the second half and looked like a shell of themselves in the game's waning minutes. Florida had numerous chances to close out the game, but kept making mistakes and just could not hold on.
Anyone who followed March Madness knew that Kendall Marshall was unable to suit up Sunday. That huge hole put pressure on the rest of the team to produce. This is when stars should have been made. When your back is against the wall, you push back and come back stronger. That is what sports is about.
That is not what Harrison Barnes did. Barnes curled up next to the wall and let Kansas take advantage of him. UNC needed Barnes to play spectacular, and he came up distinctly short.
The rest of the Tar Heels were solid, but Barnes needed to be more than mediocre. In fact, he didn’t even find mediocrity, as he failed to reach his season averages.
UNC could have found themselves in New Orleans had Barnes lived to up his NBA draft lottery pick status.
Baylor Bears (Minus Quincy Acy)
It is hard to pinpoint just one player to blame for Baylor’s crushing loss to the Kentucky Wildcats. The whole team looked out of sync. Beside Quincy Acy and his 22 points and eight rebounds, no one stepped up for the Bears.
They trailed by 20 points at halftime, but the game was long over before then.
Perry Jones III scored most of his seemingly impressive 17 points in garbage time, when the game was all but over. The phenomenon that was Brady Heslip mustered only just four points, one rebound and one assist.
The bench was even worse, as they combined to shoot 1-of-12 from the floor while racking up 10 fouls en route to a dismal three-point showing.
The Bears somehow lost their growl in the Elite Eight.