*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
*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
*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
*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
*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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Terrapins out-rebounded the
Wildcats by 14 and shot better, overall, from the field (.469 to
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
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
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
email@example.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at