Thursday, March 19, 2009

A look back, and a look ahead

It was a great early stream of games, with 2Memphis taken to the wire by 15Cal-State Northridge and Kyle actually willing to completely disregard the health of his bracket to cheer for the Matadors. But that was all for naught and Memphis pulled it out, 81-70, thanks to 35 points and 10 three-pointers from a guy whose previous season high was 13. There's Robert Sallie's one shining moment.
9Butler and 8LSU was close throughout, with several lead changes. LSU should have taken control of this game much earlier as Marcus Thorton's playmaking and the Tigers' athleticism was difficult for Butler to handle. Still, Butler was spunky and wouldn't go away. But LSU rode Thorton's 30 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals to a 75-71 win.
5Purdue looked like it was going to have a cakewalk of a first round game, leading by as much as 14 in the second half. 12Northern Iowa clawed their way back but had horrible late-minute management to ruin their hopes of an upset. Purdue 61-56.
10Maryland and 7California were close for a while but the Terrapins pulled away midway through the second half and put it on cruise-control to finish out a 84-71 victory.
The rest of the games were blowout city. 1 UConn played without coach Jim Calhoun, who went to the hospital, and used a 46-5 run to get away from 16 Chattanooga for a 103-47 win.
No Ty Lawson for 1North Carolina, no problem. Wayne Ellington scored 25 points and Tyler Hansbrough added 22 to drive a 101-58 win over 16Radford.
9Texas A&M jumped out to an 18 point lead early in the game and didn't give it up as 8BYU never really made it a game. Bryan Davis had a game high 21 points in a 79-66 Aggies win.
4Washington was a trendy upset pick, facing SEC tournament champs 13Mississippi State. Those dreams were put to bed early. The game started out closely but the Huskies took a 40-27 lead into halftime and maintained it. Quincy Pondexter scored 23 points, double his season average, to key the 71-58 UW win.

Truthfully only about half of today's eight games were entertaining. The fraction might not change for the night slate but there will be a few doozies.
6UCLA takes on 11VCU in the awaited game of the day. VCU is a hot pick to beat the higher seeded Bruins but a large portion of this UCLA has made three straight Final Four runs and Darren Collison vs. Eric Maynor is the top 1-on-1 matchup of the first round. That game is at 9:50 ET.
7CLemson and 10Michigan should be a better 7-10 game than MD-Cal. These two are evenly matched and it will be a battle of wills. Michigan is driven by its 1-3-1 zone, which could create room underneath for Tigers star power forward Trevor Booker. Game starts at 7:10 ET.
7Texas-10Minnesota should be another good, if not spectacular game. UT needs AJ Abrams to have a big game to go far. Game starts at 7:10 ET.
The other big upset selection is 12Western Kentucky over 5Illinois. WKU is a hot pick because of its Sweet Sixteen run from last year, but Courtney Lee graduated to the NBA. AJ Slaughter took over his scoring load, and after upsetting Louisville earlier this year, is primed for another run. Illinois will be hurt by the loss of its facilitator point guard Chester Frazier, who won't play. That should hurt a lot. Game starts at 9:55 ET.

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