NCAA Sweet 16: How Do You Take Your Stunners?
Now we can ask the infamous million dollar question...well, at least one of them: How do your brackets look right now? Bill Plaschke from Around The Horn and L.A. Times laid claim to not one, but two upsets on Thursday. He got one, but he came up short on the other.
In fact, the one he called was probably the shocker of the night. Not even the WWE could have called these four games or had plot twists and action like this.
Now that the night is over, we can all take a deep breath, finish throwing up our dinner, and figure out how the hell we're going to salvage these godawful brackets.
Duke, Memphis, UConn, Pitt, Villanova, Xavier, Purdue, and Mizzou locked horns in the first stretch of the Sweet 16. But who would have enough in the tank to survive and make it to the Elite Eight? Glendale and Boston were truly rocking on Thursday night. Who came out on top?
Well, to reference the picture above, how do you take your stunners?
Here now is the recap of Thursday night's action in the NCAA Sweet 16.
UConn-troversy Means Nothing as Huskies Join Elite
The UConn Huskies entered the Sweet 16 amid the black cloud of controversy. Some yahoo from Yahoo! Sports claimed that the university broke some serious recruitment rules for one of its past players.
But you wouldn't have known that from the way they played tonight.
Despite several runs by Purdue down the stretch, John Calhoun's Huskies weathered the storm and managed not to trail in the entire game. The reward for all that hard work: A 72-60 victory over the Boilermakers and a trip to the Elite Eight.
Led by Hasheem Thabeet and his double-double (15 points and 15 boards), the Huskies overcame a unlike-them first half to take control of the game going down the stretch. The Huskies will now roll into the Regional Finals in Glendale, where their opponent is not who they expected.
Xavier Feels The Pitt Heat
All the talk going into the tournament was about Pitt's big man DaJuan Blair. But when the smoke cleared on Thursday night, the spotlight was off of Blair...and on Levance Fields.
The Panthers guard orchestrated his second-straight stunning second half as Pitt finally got the Sweet 16 monkey off their back. Thanks to Fields, Pitt defeated the Xavier Musketeers 60-55 to seal the deal for the top-seeded Panthers.
The win ensures that Pitt will be in Boston through at least the weekend...but would it be Duke or Villanova that locks horns with them on Saturday night?
Villanova Delivers Some ECW Punishment on the ACC
Coach K is one of the most respected coaches in college basketball. His team is one of the most feared in the country. And after a great 2008 that saw him coach Team USA to a gold medal in Beijing and his beloved Blue Devils to the ACC Tournament Championship, it looked like smooth sailing for the Devils to reach the Final Four once more.
But as always, looks can be deceiving...just ask my ex-wife.
The Villanova Wildcats picked the perfect time to step up and exorcise some demons of their own, as the Extremists from Philly brought some of those Extreme Measures to Boston. When the smoke cleared, Beantown was screaming all the way from the cheap seats as the Villanova Wildcats continued their stunning ways.
The result: A 77-54 victory over Duke, their first in over 50 years.
Now the Wildcats have a chance to continue their shocking twist of fate when they face Pitt in the Regional Finals this weekend. Dante Cunningham led the way for 'Nova with a double double (14 points, 11 boards).
If only Allen Iverson could play this hard instead of talking about practice.
Missouri Introduces Memphis to Smashmouth Basketball
Memphis had the nation's longest winning streak entering the tournament. Memphis was considered the team to beat. Memphis went undefeated in Conference USA.
The key words are "had" and "was."
Tonight, John Calipari met an old foe who has always been a thorn in his side, as Mike Anderson's Missouri Tigers gave Memphis one hell of a reality check. The Tigers played smashmouth basketball (a la their football brethren), and the end result was Anderson handing Calipari another loss.
In case you didn't know, when Anderson coached UAB 62 games ago, he handed Calipari a loss then. And thanks to JT Tiller's 23 points, the Mizzou Tigers won the Battle of the Stripes 102-91 and are now heading to the Elite Eight to face UConn.
Can the Tigers take their Magic Carpet Ride all the way to Detroit Rock City? Or will John Calhoun punch his ticket this weekend?
Tonight's Madness Continues
Friday night not only brings us SmackDown on MyNetworkTV, but it also brings us the other four games of the Sweet 16.
In the Midwest Region, top-seeded Louisville continues its quest for glory as they take on the ultimate underdogs in Arizona. Can the 'Cats continue their streak, or will Louisville move one step closer to destiny?
On the other side of the bracket, the defending national champions Kansas will continue its march to the Final Four as they face a future bald Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. Will Izzo keep his hair for one more game? Or will Bill Self prove why his team is considered a favorite to win it all...again?
In the South bracket, the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels are rejoicing at the departure of their Tobacco Road foes. Now they face a tough-as-nails Gonzaga team that is looking to pick up where they left off in Portland. Can the Bulldogs continue their winning ways? Or will Roy Williams be able to cut down another pair of nets?
On the bottom half of the bracket, Blake Griffin leads the Oklahoma Sooners into Memphis to face Jim Boeheim's battle-tested Syracuse Orange. Will the Big 12 Powerhouse make it 3-0 for the conference in Sweet 16 play? Or do the Orange have one more thriller left in them?
Now...How Do You Like 'Dem Apples? See you tomorrow night.