And then there were four…
The craziest weekend in sports, followed by another somewhat less frenetic weekend of basketball, has pared down 68 teams to just the Final Four. Despite having three out of the eight teams left in the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten got just one of them to North Texas, with both teams from the state of Michigan being sent home.
I am sitting at 45-19 with my round-by-round picks and with only three games to go!
Here’s a little recap of what went down this past weekend:
» Florida vs. Dayton: Last weekend saw Dayton’s miracle run end as Florida just smothered them, taking the largely pro-Dayton crowd out of the game. The Gators did not let the Flyers get out in transition and run the floor, which was what had led them to big wins over Ohio State, Syracuse, and Stanford. Florida was the only team that succeeded in stopping that part of their game.
That was the only game of the weekend that was not within single digits. The Gators finally erase the sting of three straight losses in the Elite Eight with a 10-point win over the Flyers.
» UConn vs. Michigan State: Connecticut, carried by strong guard play once again, matched Michigan State’s defense punch for punch. UConn jumped out to a 12-2 lead, but back came Michigan State with outside shooting, playing themselves to a four point halftime lead. The Huskies overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half to win by six. They became the first seven seed to make the Final Four since the tournament expanded to it’s current format in 1985.
Michigan State’s inability to get the ball inside against the UConn D (they had just six points in the paint) doomed them. They just aren’t good enough shooters from outside, but it was the only (somewhat) open shots they could get. Shabazz Napier once again took over the game for the Huskies. He scored 25 of their 60 points. The Spartans had the misfortune of drawing a regional team that pretty much had a home game in New York City. The Garden was filled to the brim with Husky fans. Sparty was lucky if they had 20 percent of the building. The crowd fueled UConn’s first Final Four trip since they won the National Championship three years ago.