Friday, March 28, 2003


Three excellent games last night. Wisconsin scared the living crap out of Kentucky. After losing star guard Keith Bogans to a high ankle sprain in the first half, the Wildcats needed a big effort from the rest of their squad to hold off the pesky Badgers. If Bogans can't go on Saturday, the Marquette Golden Eagles could be headed to the Final Four. That's right, Marquette could be headed to the Final Four! The Golden Eagles broke the game open in the second half, then held off a furious comeback from Pittsburgh to advance to the next round. With three minutes left, the Panthers came roaring back and cut a ten-point deficit to one, but Marquette got a huge hoop from its stud Dwayne Wade with 23 seconds left and sank their free throws down the stretch for the victory. Marquette and Kentucky have played more often than any other matchup in tournament history.

In the only non-competitive game of the evening, Arizona blew out Notre Dame to take its rightful place in the Elite 8. I didn't get to see much of the game because CBS did the right thing by sticking with the Kentucky-Wisconsin nail-biter rather than switching to the Wildcats' destruction over the Fighting Irish. Arizona will take on Kansas in the next round, after the Jayhawks defeated the Duke Blue Devils in a game that lived up to its billing. There were a ton of lead changes, great defense, great coaching, and lots of heart. Unforunately for Duke, freshman marksman J.J. Redick was ice cold. He went 2 for 16 from the field, 1 of 11 from behind the arc, to finish with five points. Every time Duke built a lead, they failed to deliver the knockout punch. If one or two of Redick's treys would have fallen, it could have given Duke the momentum to close it out. In a parallel situation, Kansas got a horrible game from its senior guard Kirk Hinrich, who shot 1 of 9 from the field and 0 for 5 from three-point land. But Nick Collison was tough. The senior forward had the game of his life, scoring 33 points and 18 rebounds, while displaying his oustanding hands, footwork, and touch around the basket, in addition to some courageous stamina. So, while Duke regroups for next season with a slew of returning youngsters, Kansas gets its rematch against Arizona in what should be one helluva game.

Check out Dickie V for a higher energy look at last night's Sweet Sixteen games.

The games start in a half hour and I still have to drive crosstown, so in the interest of time, I'm going to refer you to Andy Katz for a breakdown of tonight's matchups and give you my picks.


[5] Connecticut (23-9) vs. [1] Texas (24-6)
7:27 PM ET San Antonio, TX

Texas is essentially playing in front of a home crowd and T.J. Ford was just named ESPN player of the year. Hook 'em, Horns!

Pick: Texas

[6] Maryland (21-9) vs. [7] Michigan State (21-12)
9:57 PM ET San Antonio, TX

This is a great matchup. Maryland is still riding the magic of their buzzer-beating opening round victory over UNC Wilmington and Michigan State just flat-out embarrassed my alma mater Florida in the second round. Using the old adage, of I'm going with the team that beat my team...

Pick: Michigan State


[1] Oklahoma (25-6) vs. [12] Butler (27-5)
7:10 PM ET Albany, NY

I refure to get burned by the Bulldogs again! I think they have a legitimate chance to beat the Sooners, I'm rooting for them, and I'd rather pick them and be wrong than underestimate them one more time.

Pick: Butler

[3] Syracuse (26-5) vs. [10] Auburn (22-11)
9:40 PM ET Albany, NY

Auburn has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they belong in this tournament, upsetting Saint Joseph's and Wake Forest in the first two rounds. Syracuse looked great in their second half comeback against Oklahoma State in the second round. Carmelo Anthony is a thoroughbred and I love that Gerry McNamara. Plus, they're practically playing in their own backyard.

Pick: Syracuse

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