Top Highlights from Day 8 of the NCAA Tournament

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2013

Top Highlights from Day 8 of the NCAA Tournament

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    No one can complain that this year's NCAA tournament has disappointed in terms of drama.

    Although this stage in the tournament can't match the early rounds in terms of huge upsets, each play takes on an added importance as the Final Four inches ever closer.

    In case you missed Friday's games or want to watch some of the biggest plays again, here are the top highlights from what was a very action-packed end to the Sweet 16.

Peyton Siva Threads the Needle

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    Although it happened with 16 minutes and 52 seconds left in the first half, this set the tone for how the rest of the game would unfold.

    Peyton Siva delivered a great pass up to Chane Behanan, who promptly threw it down. The pass was much better than the dunk. Fans have seen plenty of dunks before, so it's always enjoyable to see those kinds of passes.

    Siva battled foul trouble for much of the game, so he only played 19 minutes on Friday night. That highlight was one of his three assists for the game.

    After that play, you just got the feeling that Louisville was going to be the superior team on the night. The Cardinals played well and never looked like losing en route to a 77-69 win over the Oregon Ducks.

That's Just Russ-diculous

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    Russ Smith has made it a habit to drive right at the basket and make ridiculous layups. This was one of those plays.

    He simply took the ball, went right at the Ducks and made them stop him. They, of course, could not, and Smith completed yet another incredible shot with 11:02 left in the first half.

    It was yet another example of how the Louisville Cardinals were just plain better on the night. They controlled the game from the tipoff. Oregon tried to make it close, but the Ducks simply didn't have enough.

    Smith was the star, finishing with 31 points on the night.

Ben McLemore Finally Makes His Presence Felt

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    One of Kansas' biggest stars, Ben McLemore, had had a rather forgettable NCAA tournament prior to Friday night. He scored just 13 points in the Jayhawks' first two games.

    McLemore must have known that another subpar performance wouldn't cut it against the Michigan Wolverines. The freshman guard went for 20 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc.

    This dunk with 13:52 left in the second half is representative of the McLemore that was much more assertive and confident than he had been during the tournament.

    Maybe if he had taken a shot during the overtime period, the Jayhawks wouldn't have been felled in the Sweet 16.

Trey Burke?! What Are You Think...Great Shot!

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    It was just one night before LaQuinton Ross of the Ohio State Buckeyes hit a three-pointer to give his team a win over the Arizona Wildcats.

    Trey Burke was not impressed.

    He went out and hit what looked to be a 35-footer to tie the game up with 4.2 seconds left. It was a very risky shot not just because of the distance, but also because Burke had been struggling for much of the game.

    No matter what his reputation, when he put that up, millions of Michigan Wolverines fans were ready to throw their remotes and whatever else wasn't nailed down at the television. Then he hit it and everything was right with the world.

    The Wolverines went on to win, 87-85, in overtime.

We Love You, Dunk City

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    Florida Gulf Coast has built its tournament reputation on crazy dunks. Luckily, the Eagles continued to deliver Friday night.

    Many might have thought FGCU might finally run out of magic against a defensively strong Florida Gators team. Early on, the Eagles looked far from rattled, though, as Chase Fieler connected with Sherwood Brown for a nice alley-oop a little over four minutes into the game.

    It's hard not to love Florida Gulf Coast when it's always good to put together plays like this.

Craig Sager and Joakim Noah Are Comedy's Next Great Duo

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    This was yet another highlight dunk from Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles couldn't recover from a great Florida Gators run to end the first half.

    FGCU continued to fight hard, as evidenced by Chase Fieler's put-back dunk with 3:16 left in the game.

    The best part of this is the interview between Joakim Noah and Craig Sager. Noah appeared to want anything other than talking to Sager. Then comes the former Gator imploring his team to "Get a stop!" only for Fieler to throw it down.

    Noah drops his head in his hand, and that's the end of that interview.

It Doesn't Come Much Easier Than This

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    Florida had very few highlights of its own. The Gators did the dirty work en route to a 62-50 victory.

    Mike Rosario did entertain the Florida fans in attendance with this one.

    Rarely do you see a player pull off this move at half court. Generally players are paying enough attention to the inbounder to not let him throw it off the back and have a free run at the basket.

    Florida Gulf Coast continued playing up until the end of the game. The Eagles didn't have enough to make up what was an insurmountable deficit.

Here Comes the Payne

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    For the casual fans, there was little to come out of this game. You knew that a game between the Michigan State Spartans and Duke Blue Devils was unlikely to produce electric plays. It would be two college basketball giants just going right at one another.

    Adreian Payne did have a nice dunk with 1:57 left in the first half. He threw it down uncontested with his left hand. Unfortunately he didn't get any style points, and it was only worth two points.

    It was also only one of three field goals Payne hit the entire game.

    The Blue Devils prevailed, 71-61.