Three OT Affairs Highlight Saturday Play
Acie Law
Acie Law
Scout National Basketball Columnist
Posted Mar 18, 2007


VCU, Xavier and Indiana nearly pulled off eye-popping upsets. But, by the end of the day, most of the Saturday results can gone about as had been actipated . . . although things were awfully close at most sites.

*VCU and Indiana did their best to disrupt a reunion between Pittsburgh and its former coach, as well as that between two close-as-brothers coaches.

 

*Xavier did its best to force one of the No. 1 seeds to send its uniforms to the launders for the last time this season.

 

*Butler reeled in some of its November magic to knock off another high-profile opponent and set the stage for a potential showdown with the most high profile of all opponents in 2007.

*North Carolina, once again, demonstrated that it has a guy (Tyler Hansbrough) who is a load to cope with inside the lane and along the baseline, as well as a fellow (Tywon Lawson) who is really, really, really fast while dribbling a basketball.

*Vanderbilt needed a couple of overtimes in Sacramento to do so but it was able to finally knock off Washington State, like the Commodores, one of the season’s big surprises.

*Acie Law reminded us why he needs to talk to Jerry West about borrowing the Mr. Clutch moniker he wore for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 60s and 70s.

*Georgetown kept chugging along to what many assume is an inevitable showdown with a club from Chapel Hill.

So it went in a very entertaining Saturday of NCAA Tournament second-round action.

UCLA, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Butler, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Georgetown – two 1 seeds, a couple of 2s, two 3s, a 5 and a 6 – filled up the slots for half of the Sweet 16 field.

The closest ownership to the title of surprise winner would have to be pointed Vanderbilt’s way after its Derrick Byars- and Shan Foster-driven 78-74 over the Cougars.

But the Commodores were considered the Southeastern Conference’s second best team for much of the season. And they did knock off the SEC’s – and the country’s – best team, Florida, by 13 points a month ago.

VCU almost joined Vanderbilt as a 6 going to the (Sweet) 16 but couldn’t quite seal the deal after coming from 19 points down against Pittsburgh.

Granted (no pun intended) the Rams went 28-7 with the players that were recruited by former coach Jeff Capel.

But current VCU coach Anthony Grant figures to have his share of suitors among athletic directors across the country over the next few weeks.

Oh, yeah: Did Tony Bennett coach his final game for Washington State Saturday? The ADs at Minnesota and Michigan have to be more than just a little bit intrigued by what he accomplished in his first season as a head honcho.

UCLA’s defense was once again outstanding Saturday night against Indiana. But there’s nothing new about that.

But the Bruins aren’t going to get by Pittsburgh Thursday night in San Jose, much less earn a second consecutive Final Four venture, if a offense that bordered on anemic Saturday – and misfired often in consecutive Pac-10 losses two weeks ago – doesn’t get considerably sharper.

The Thursday San Jose reunions: UCLA coach Ben Howland and his former Pittsburgh program, and Howland and current Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, something akin to a brother to Howland for more than 20 years.

Is there a better player than Law in the country this season that wasn’t his conference’s Player of the Year?

If the senior point guard for the Aggies continues his heroics in San Antonio later this week, there is no reason why he shouldn’t end up the runner-up for the John R. Wooden Award to the guy – Kevin Durant of Texas – who beat him out for Big 12 Conference honors.

How critical is the 3-point shooting arc in college basketball?

Shooting and rebounding statistics from Butler’s 62-59 victory over Maryland answer the question succinctly.

The Terrapins out-rebounded the Wildcats by 14 and shot better, overall, from the field (.469 to .424).

But Butler knocked in six more (12 to six) 3’s than did Maryland.

Of course, the game wasn’t decided entirely on 3-pointers: The Terps committed five more turnovers than did Butler and were just seven of 15 from the free-throw line.

Until someone can find a way to do what Michigan State couldn’t do Saturday – limit Hansbrough’s touches inside the lane and at least partially negate Lawson’s speed – the Tar Heels will be flying to Atlanta later this month.

I would assume Ohio State players, coaches and fans heaved a collective sigh of relief after escaping Lexington with a trip to San Antonio in their immediate future.

I hope all offered a collective thank you to Ron Lewis for hitting the 3 that sent the game into overtime against Xavier and to Mike Conley for his overall brilliance, especially in the fourth quarter. By the way, Greg Oden should have been called for an intentional foul on his shove on Justin Cage with 9.3 seconds to play, which would have given Cage his two free throws (he hit just one of them, setting the stage for the Lewis shot that sent the game into OT), and the ball out of bounds.

The Musketeers might be prepping for a Sweet 16 game if that was the case.

What did the combined 24-rebound and seven-shot block performance from Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, as well as the five-steal effort by Jessie Sapp, earn for the Georgetown Hoyas?

A Sweet 16 game against Vanderbilt, a team the Hoyas knocked off in Nashville (86-70, on Nov. 15) in their opening contest of the season.

Doesn’t that seem like a couple of years ago?



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.frankhoops.com



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