Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shocker: Close Games

After a day filled with blowouts, the late games Saturday finally gave us some close finishes. The best game of these was Marquette-Butler which was close throughout the second half. When Andrew Smith scored with 1:39 left and shot the free throw to make it 69-66, it appeared Butler was going to move on. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Vander Blue makes a habit out of picking up the slack for Marquette and tied the game with a 3. The Golden Eagles would score the rest of the way from the free throw line, while Butler had two chances to tie or win the game late. The first time, Rotnei Clarke missed a rushed shot. Incredibly, Butler got another chance after a quick Andrew Smith layup and turnover in the inbounds with 2.9 left. Too bad Brad Stevens didn't have a better play that to give Smith the ball from beyond the arc and him fling it to the hoop. Marquette wins and will have bragging rights for when these two play in the Big East next year.

So many puns will be used to describe this game (it's in my headline), but Wichita State knocked off Gonzaga last night, making the Zags the first 1-seed to lose. The Shockers led for much of the game, but Gonzaga seemed to right the ship, topping off at a 7-point lead with 5:32 left. Wichita State then went on a 16-4 run, as they got hot from 3. Ron Baker led the way, scoring 8 of the 16 (as well as his 16) during that stretch. The Shockers held on and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006. Gonzaga's loss only adds to the West Region Dumpster Fire, which has now claimed the 1, 3, 4 and 5 seeds. This either means that Ohio State has a Final Four berth locked up or they are the next and last victim.

Meanwhile, Syracuse beat Cal late last night in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. The Orange did this with a balanced approach on offense; with C.J. Fair and James Southerland shouldering the scoring load and Michael Carter-Williams adding secondary scoring. Defensively, they frustrated Allen Crabbe, holding him to 8 points on 3 of 9 shooting. Syracuse looks to be back on all cylinders and if Indiana does win today, their matchup with Syracuse could be really good.

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