Bradley 72, Pittsburgh 66 [68 possessions] – Patrick O’Bryant: 28 points, 7 boards. Aaron Gray: 12 points, 4 boards. There is some stuff that happens during the Tournament that affects things beyond the event. For instance, Steve Alford probably won’t be going to Indiana, and Brandon Rush and Tyler Hansbrough aren’t going pro after early losses. And Bradley may be a pre-season top 25 team next season. They lose Marcus Sommerville, but clearly O’Bryant and the rest of his buddies will get a lot of preseason hype in a few months. Pitt gave Bradley an eight possession head start in this one, and you don’t win many games this time of year doing that. PossessographTM supplied below.
Memphis 72, Bucknell 56  – We can rule out the C-USA rust factor from impacting Memphis’ future. Bucknell went to the line 29 times, their fourth-highest total of the season.
George Mason 65, North Carolina 60  – Wow. 30 3-pointers and 4 FTAs for UNC. A season-high and low, respectively. Mason changed defenses a bunch, but generally forced the guards to make plays. The Patriots’ defense has rated as big-conference quality all season, but this was their most impressive performance. When Wichita State hosted George Mason in the BracketBusters, they knew as part of the BracketBusters rules that they would have to return the home game. But who knew it would be this season?
Connecticut 87, Kentucky 83  – I know Kentucky fans feel kind of blah about this team. But they had no right to expect their offense would be so good this season. One of the most underappreciated stories of the season was how effective the Wildcat offense became towards the end of the season, so it was good to see them go out in such an obvious blaze of offensive glory. Who knew that Azubuike and Hayes meant so much defensively?
West Virginia 67, Northwestern State 54  – A season-high 33 FTAs for WVU, their most since their second-round victory in last season’s tournament. When coincidentally, they also only made seven 3-pointers.
Texas 75, N.C. State 54  – Sets up a rematch of a November game with WVU, which was a Texas one-point victory thanks to three consecutive missed free throws in the one-and-one in the final minute.
Georgetown 70, Ohio State 52  – I think the “A Wonkalypse Now” graphic would be appropriate on the official Big Ten website today. A once promising Buckeye season really ground to a halt the last couple of weeks. They only rebounded 3 of their 28 missed field goals in this one. I continue to admire the tortoise-like dominance of Roy Hibbert (20 and 14).
Villanova 82, Arizona 78  – Game effort from Arizona in the mandatory mascot vs. mascot game for this round. I would have enacted the Pac-10 emergency siren a la Drudge had the losing Wildcats actually pulled this one out.
We’re down to 16 now. It would be sweet justice for CBS to send Billy Packer to DC to have to call the Wichita State/George Mason game. One of those teams will be playing for a Final Four bid next Sunday. But we all know Packer will be in Atlanta to call the potential Duke/Texas showdown.
It’s kind of funny how people are saying the committee looks good now. They made epic mistakes, but it just so happened that Nantz and Packer, by being ignorant of the basketball landscape, chose to call the most attention to the things for which the committee had a reasonable defense. If you want some numerical evidence of the non-power conferences ability to compete as a lower seed, here’s something (with associated links from there to more info).