HOW WE GOT THE ELITE EIGHT SHOWDOWN
Michigan head coach Tom Izzo once again proved that he is one of the best in the business and is probably hall of fame bound when he finally decides to retire. Surely the only reason he is still coaching at his age is his love for the sport and for his players. He definitely out coached LSU in the Sweet 16 round on Friday evening in Washington DC.
The Tigers had a great run against all the adversity the world could throw at them. But in the end, when they finally made it to the big stage, the lack of a head coach to give them the confidence they needed is was brought them down at the hands of the Spartans of Michigan State, who were running like a well oiled machine against LSU on Friday and raining 3 point shots from all around the arch.
Somebody on the Duke squad must have a really effective good luck charm because the Blue Devil basketball team, number one seed and all, just barely got past their last two opponents by the slimmest of margins and with some good portion of good luck involved as well.
The boys from Duke may not be so lucky when they come up against a highly focused Michigan State team on Sunday afternoon. This is going to be big boy basketball with several of the starters looking to use this great national spotlight to showcase their talents and perhaps propel them into a multi-million dollar contracts.
The Red Raiders from Texas Tech from way out in Lubbock, Texas totally dominated a highly ranked Michigan team led by their number one ranked defense. The Wolverines took until 24 minutes had elapsed in the first half to make it to the 20 point mark. At 63-44, it was never even close.
Florida State put up a valiant battle against the number one ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs but in the end the talent level of the Gonzaga team was just too much for the size and power of the Seminoles. ‘Zags 72, ‘Noles 58 final score.
Although they were only 1.5 point favorites over Purdue, almost everyone expected the Tennessee Volunteers to win their match and move on to the Elite Eight round. After all, Tennessee was number one in the nation of a large part of the regular season action. But it was not to be. Boilermakers nipped the Vols in an exciting overtime thriller by a final score of 99-94.
In what surely must have been one of the lowest scoring games in NCAA tournament history, number one seed Virginia outlasted the Oregon Ducks by a rousing final score of 53-49. With seven minutes left in the first half, the score was 13-10! Charles Barkley claimed that ‘there’s something in the water around here’. The contest was a bit of a bore, but the Cavaliers move on as expected.
The Houston Cougars are a tough basketball team. They played the number one seeded Kentucky Wildcats man to man as well as any team has done all year long. But Kentucky has a hero, Tyler Herro to be exact, whose late 3 point bucket lived up to his name and lifted his Wildcats into the Elite Eight.
But what’s a Sweet 16 round without a big upset? Especially one that few saw coming, except if you happen to live in or around Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers had not been to the Elite Eight is 33 years, but, after dominating number one seed North Carolina in the second half, head coach Bruce Pearl’s SEC tournament winning team is going this time around for an all SEC Elite Eight showdown with Kentucky on Sunday.