Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM
What ... You mean to tell us you didn't have a Lehigh vs. Norfolk State matchup set in this year's Final Four in New Orleans? Shame on you!
The NCAA Tournament's biggest first-weekend party-crashers in years made most of the noise in the second full day of this year's "Big Dance" and they sure shut up the folks who complained that Thursday's tourney tilts were a bit of a bore.
Not only did #2 seeds Missouri and Duke take major tumbles but the real fall-out from their respective flops is that the tourney has broken open - to some degree - for the heavyweights that still reign in the West and South Regionals where the Tigers and Blue Devils once resided and it was something special that #2 seeds had not lost to #15 seeds since way back in 2001 and than it happened twice in the matters of hours.
Fate? No, more like Mizzou being caught unprepared and unemotional for this second-round gig (maybe you saw how disappointed the players were after not getting chosen as a #1 seed last week - they were bummin') while the truth with the 2011-12 Duke team finally came out: Mike Kryzewski's club just wasn't very good or very smart this season.
So, it's onwards and upwards for the double-digit seeds that survived-and-advanced to the Sunday games and that includes #10 Xavier, #10 Purdue, #11 N.C. State, #12 South Florida, #13 Ohio, #15 Norfolk State and fellow #15 Lehigh - now that's a whole lot of success for teams that were not (based on seeding) supposed to be still standing come the Round of 32.
Hope y'all had a blast!
Extra, extra: We told you in yesterday's edition of Jim Sez that NCAA Tournament Betting Favorites went 9-6-1 ATS (against the spread) in Thursday's Round of 64 action. Note that on Friday the NCAA Tournament Betting Favs registered a 7-8-1 ATS log. So, including the "First Four" games played earlier in the week, NCAA Tourney Betting Favorites enter Saturday's action at a dead-even and vig-losing 17-17-2 spreadwise.
Now, let's show you how Friday's action went on a game-by-game basis from a pointspread perspective in schedule book rotation order:
|Duke||- 11.5||Lehigh||Lehigh 75-70|
|Notre Dame||- 2||Xavier||Xavier 67-63|
|North Carolina||- 16||Vermont||North Carolina 77-58|
|Creighton||- 1||Alabama||Creighton 58-57|
|Michigan State||- 18.5||LIU||Michigan State 89-67|
|Memphis||- 3||Saint Louis||Saint Louis 61-54|
|Georgetown||- 3.5||Belmont||Georgetown 74-59|
|N.C. State||- 2.5||San Diego State||N.C. State 79-65|
|Florida State||- 7||St. Bonaventure||Florida State 66-63|
|Cincinnati||- 3||Texas||Cincinnati 65-59|
|Temple||- 3.5||South Florida||South Florida 58-44|
|Michigan||- 5.5||Ohio||Ohio 65-60|
|Missouri||- 21.5||Norfolk State||Norfolk State 86-84|
|Florida||- 3||Virginia||Florida 71-45|
|Kansas||- 13.5||Detroit||Kansas 65-50|
|Saint Mary's||- 2||Purdue||Purdue 72-69|
We'll get to some of Sunday's Round of 32 games in a moment but first this key reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers roars into the College Basketball post-season as we'll have NCAA Tournament, NIT and CBI and CIT winners too all through the month of March plus there's plenty of NBA Winners when you sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winning selections. Note that the special check-in times are anytime after 11 a.m. ET for all the weekday afternoon games and then after 1 p.m. ET for all the Monday-through-Friday night action. Also, the winning selections are available after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Go ahead and sign up now for the NCAA Tournament and all the other post-season College Basketball Tournies!
NCAA TOURNAMENT - South Regional
#10 XAVIER (22-12) vs. #15 LEHIGH (27-7) - at Greensboro
Okay, Mountain Hawks, now that you've come this far, what's next?
The Lehigh bandwagon figures to get pretty crowded by game time and naturally there must be concern as to just how much celebrating the Patriot League champs did following Friday's epic 75-70 win against Duke but here's the real truth: Brett Reed's team didn't play its best ball in that one even though the Hawks held their own on the boards with the Dookies (see 37-34 advantage for the Blue Devils) and even though C.J. McCollum poured in 30 points (but note he missed 15-of-24 field-goal tries and canned only 10-of-16 free throws).
In other words, Lehigh figures to be a major handful here for a Xavier team that keeps getting into big-time holes and climbing out of them as was the case late Friday night in that rather controversial 67-63 win against Notre Dame - we're not gonna review the rule book here but even the biggest die-hard Musketeers fan knows his club "escaped" that Round of 64 matchup although a round of applause is due G Tu Holloway who banked in the go-ahead shot with 21.3 seconds left and wound up scoring 25 points after being on the silent side for much of this affair.
If Xavier is gonna move on to Sweet 16 action, than Holloway and fellow guard Mark Lyons must drain more than the four triples they shared against the Irish and Chris Mack's club must find an answer in dealing with Lehigh F Gabe Knutson whose 17 points and 8 rebounds were major factors against Duke.
NCAA TOURNAMENT - Midwest Regional
#12 SOUTH FLORIDA (22-13) vs. #13 OHIO (28-7) - at Nashville
Is South Florida this year's VCU? No doubt that's what folks are saying after the USF Bulls won their "First Four" game against favored California and then followed it up with a stunner 58-44 winner against Temple - a game in which Stan Heath's club missed 22 consecutive FG attempts and shot 11 percent from the floor in the first half of play ... really!
Nobody wins uglier than this Big East bunch that held Temple's starting five to 14-of-41 shooting from the floor and truly unnerved a veteran Owls bunch that just couldn't see straight with all that defensive pressure heaped upon ‘em after intermission. Now, tiny G Anthony Collins (17 points versus Temple) must navigate his way through an Ohio defense that was merely brilliant in the 65-60 upset win against Michigan on Friday night.
Note that the Bobcats held the maize-and-blue to 22-of-54 FG shooting (that's 40.7 percent) and even swiped the ball late thus preventing the Wolverines from getting off a potential game-tying triple with 6.8 seconds left. Ohio head coach John Groce - who figures to land in a Big 10 or Big 12 job any day now (paging Illinois and/or Nebraska) - admitted afterwards that "we're playing our best basketball of the year" and so that ought to scare a South Florida team that must deal with star D.J. Cooper (21 points and 5 assists against Michigan) who is more than capable of taking over a game for minutes at a stretch.
NCAA TOURNAMENT - West Regional
#15 NORFOLK STATE (26-9) vs. #7 FLORIDA (24-10) - at Omaha
Maybe the best quote coming after the scintillating Norfolk State upset win against "three-TD" favorite Mizzou was swingman Rodney McCauley letting folks know, "We're ready to keep playing."
Okay, so the giant-killers who sport a heavy New York City flavor on their roster know what they did was, indeed, a big deal but consider for a moment the fact that the Spartans shot a sizzling 54.2 percent against one of America's top-five teams plus Norfolk State pulled down 14 offensive rebounds in that tilt and such effort here against guard-oriented Florida could make for another delicious showdown.
If Billy Donovan's guys want to make it to the Sweet 16, than the Gators need to nullify forward Kyle O'Quinn whose 26-point, 14-rebound performance made him the biggest hero of the day in the biggest shocker of the day. Florida will want to run and make the 250-pound O'Quinn have to track down the SEC guys who should be more than a bit concerned that three-point shooting went awry in the runaway win against Virginia - the Gators canned just 4-of-23 triples and few teams survive NCAA Tourney games with such beyond-the-arc numbers.
P.S., Florida guard Kenny Boynton missed all five of his triple tries against the Cavs and tell us right now that he'll score only 8 points here and we'll tell you Norfolk State has a shot to keep its Cinderella status intact ... we'll see.
NOTE: There's much more NCAA Tournament coverage in the next edition of Jim Sez.