If your March has been somewhat disappointing, I hope that you were watching the action on Thursday night in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
The Sweet 16 commenced with Marquette and Miami in East region action on Thursday night and finished up with low seeds Wichita State and La Salle. Ohio State and Arizona matched up in between, as did Indiana and Syracuse.
With those four games in the books, we now have a firm grasp on two of the Elite Eight matchups, with four more games on Friday set to decide the other two matchups in the South and Midwest regions.
Friday promises to put two more No. 1 seeds in action (Louisville and Kansas), but with the unpredictability of the tournament this season, no top seed is safe.
Check out the various sections below for all things Sweet 16 from Thursday's slate and a preview of the Friday games that will decide the 2013 Elite Eight.
No. 3 Marquette 71, No. 2 Miami (FL) 61
No. 2 Ohio State 73, No. 6 Arizona 70
No. 4 Syracuse 61, No. 1 Indiana 50
No. 9 Wichita State 72, No. 13 La Salle 58
Marquette Downs Miami
Playing without Reggie Johnson, the Hurricanes never got anything going on offense.
Marquette jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead and managed to keep Miami at bay for most of the second half. The Golden Eagles played great defense on the usually sharpshooting Miami guards, limiting Shane Larkin and Durand Scott while holding the entire Miami team to 34.9 percent.
Buzz Williams' team moves on to the Elite Eight with a lot of momentum and comes into the next round with one of the tournament's best players so far—guard Vander Blue. The Golden Eagles have enough depth and scoring to beat you in multiple ways, and that was on display in Thursday's performance.
LaQuinton Ross' Late Three-Pointer Helps Ohio State Survive Arizona
LaQuinton Ross went from goat to hero in a matter of mere seconds as Ohio State's winning streak (now at 11) continues into the Elite Eight.
Mark Lyons, who scored 23 points in an inspiring effort for Arizona, made a layup and was fouled by Ross with just over 21 seconds to play and the Wildcats trailing by three. He then hit the free throw to tie the game before Ross, who finished with 17 points off the bench, made up for his defensive mistake.
Two Arizona players went with Aaron Craft off Ross' high ball screen, paving the way for the Ohio State point guard to find Ross for the game-winning three with just two seconds to play. The win puts Ohio State in the Elite Eight for the second straight season and keeps Thad Matta's title hopes alive.
Deshaun Thomas led the Buckeyes in scoring with 20 points. Craft added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists as Ohio State staved off upset for the second straight game.
Syracuse's 2-3 Zone Baffles Indiana
Speaking of upsets, Syracuse becomes the second giant-killer of the Big Dance.
The 2-3 zone limited the Hoosiers to well under 35 percent shooting and confused the Indiana offense for the entire game. Throw in Michael Carter-Williams' heroic effort of 24 points, five rebounds and four steals, and the Orange managed to coast to victory on Thursday night.
Cody Zeller had just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting for the Hoosiers.
Brandon Triche added 14 and made Jordan Hulls the biggest liability for most of the game for Indiana. The zone made Indiana uncomfortable and got the Hoosiers out of a normal flow, and the shooters just couldn't make open shots to force the issue.
Syracuse moves on to face Big East rival Marquette (who beat the Orange 74-71 earlier this season) in the East regional final.
Wichita State Overwhelms La Salle
Not having center Steve Zack turned out to be a blessing in disguise during the first three tournament games for La Salle.
It wasn't on Thursday night.
Wichita State outrebounded the Explorers by 21 on Thursday night and pounded the ball in the post to the point of no return to take La Salle out of this one early. La Salle guard Ramon Galloway was held in check with just 11 points, and the rest of the four-guard attack just couldn't get going enough to mount a run against a very physical Shockers team.
Malcolm Armstead and Carl Hall finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively, and the Shockers just wanted this game more. A matchup with Ohio State now awaits the Missouri Valley Conference runners-up in the Elite Eight.
Note: All times are approximate and Eastern Time. For a complete look at the tournament schedule and bracket, check out Bleacher Report's updated PDF.
|REMAINING SWEET 16 TV Schedule|
|Mar. 29||No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon||7:15||CBS||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Mar. 29||No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Michigan||7:37||TBS||Arlington, Texas|
|Mar. 29||No. 3 Michigan St. vs. No. 2 Duke||9:45||CBS||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Mar. 29||No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 FGCU||9:57||TBS||Arlington, Texas|
The biggest story from Friday night's action will be Florida Gulf Coast.
The Dunk City Eagles get a chance to knock off one more big conference school and be the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight with a win over Florida. But Erik Murphy and company won't go lightly in front of what's sure to be a rowdy crowd at Cowboys Stadium.
In the other North Texas matchup, Michigan has a chance to reach the Elite Eight after a disappointing end to the season but will have to get through No. 1 Kansas to do so. The game is littered with talent on both sides and should be one of the better all-around games of the tournament so far.
On the other side, speed versus speed clashes as No. 1 Louisville gets back at it against Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon. The Ducks knocked off two loaded squads (Oklahoma State and Saint Louis) en route to this matchup and have depth and hustle from all five positions that could pose a big threat to the Cards' title run.
Finally, Duke and Michigan State will square off in a matchup of big-time college programs. The Spartans are coming in hot after two blowout wins over lower seeds, but Duke is clicking at the right time with Ryan Kelly's return and seniors Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee hungry for a title.
No. 1 Louisville over No. 12 Oregon
No. 4 Michigan over No. 1 Kansas
No. 2 Duke over No. 3 Michigan State
No. 3 Florida over No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast
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