2010 NCAA Tournament: Are Purdue and Cornell Among Sweet Surprises? (Part II)
The Sweet 16 is set. Who surprised on Sunday?
Certainly Cornell, maybe not because they won but because of the manner in which they handled a pretty solid Wisconsin team.
Xavier? Purdue? It is hard to imagine that anything can surprise us anymore in this tournament as favorites continue to fall.
With Kansas now on the sidelines, Kentucky, Syracuse, and yes, I'll admit it, Duke have emerged as the favorites.
I'm not a big Duke fan, but I won't kid myself when it comes to Coach K. He is a proven winner, and this team is a lot better than it was six weeks ago.
So who really did surprise?
Syracuse laid a beating on Gonzaga, plain and simple. The Zags had no answer for Wesley Johnson or Andy Rautins.
Despite playing without Arinze Onuaku, the Orange shot close to 55 percent from the field and look like the team to beat in Salt Lake City.
Sweet Surprise? No way.
With Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers looked to be at worst a No. 2 seed. Without him, many—including the President with his highly publicized snub—thought they would go down to Siena.
After a gutsy overtime win against a very good Texas A&M team, Purdue is headed to Texas to take on Duke.
Before Hummel's injury, the Sweet 16 seemed to be a given, so is this a sweet surprise? Yes.
Michigan State Spartans
Up 15 with 12 minutes to go, but with their best player out, the Spartans got a buzzer beater from Korie Lucious to shock Maryland, spoiling the Terrapins' furious comeback.
The Spartans will be without Kailin Lucas the rest of the way, as he is believed to have torn an Achilles tendon.
State has been in and around the top 25 all year, so this doesn't qualify as a sweet surprise. The solid, if unspectacular, Northern Iowa Panthers await.
Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils have developed an inside game at the right time. Brian Zoubek (who thought this would ever be in print?) has been a consistent presence for Duke and will command some attention, taking some of the pressure off Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler.
Despite an off game from Scheyer, Duke still throttled California.
Sweet surprise? No.
Cornell Big Red
Bill Self said after his Jayhawks escaped with a win against Cornell that the Big Red wouldn't lose another game this season.
Though he meant the regular season, I'm sure (they did lose to Penn of all teams), how ironic is it that they are still playing and Kansas is out?
They destroyed, literally and figuratively, a pretty good Wisconsin team on Sunday and now have a date with destiny—Kentucky—only one hour from home in Syracuse.
Sweet Surprise? Yes. I don't think most folks thought they were this good.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Da'Sean Butler. This really sums up the Mountaineers' chances from here on in.
They handled Missouri Sunday but don't really do things the easy way. The Tigers helped out with plenty of misses from the free throw line.
As a No. 2 seed, one would expect West Virginia to be here, but they have a dangerous and hot Washington Huskies team on the horizon.
Sweet surprise? No.
What a great job Chris Mack has done keeping this program on the top shelf.
Sean Miller didn't leave the cupboard bare, but Jason Love was the top returning scorer, and he averaged six per game last year. Of course, Jordan Crawford helps.
The Musketeers exacted some revenge on the Pitt Panthers Sunday—Pitt won in the Sweet 16 last year—using a 16-0 run to build a big lead before just hanging on. Kansas State will be a tough, tough challenge.
Sweet surprise? Yes.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State's road to the Final Four seemed to get immeasurably easier with the early departures of Georgetown and Kansas. The only issue is their guard play.
Evan Turner missed a quadruple-double by one rebound, one assist, and one turnover. The last stat is alarming but is offset by Turner's ability to win games almost singlehandedly.
An interesting showdown with overachieving Tennessee looms.
Sweet surprise? No—and the Buckeyes must be liking their chances to go to Indianapolis.