Arizona's season mercifully came to an end. The Wildcats' tenure under interim
coach Kevin O'Neill is likely history after a 75-65 loss to West Virginia.
O'Neill took over after Hall of Famer Lute Olson stepped away just prior to the
start of the year. While the Wildcats extended their streak to 24 straight
tournament appearances, their stay was short-lived.
"We've been through a lot of ups and downs with the coaching change and
everything else," Arizona big man Jordan Hill said. "I'm kind of glad
it's over. We've been through a lot, but we're still going to keep our heads
O'Neill was brought on board by Olson to fix the team's recent defensive
woes, but the Mountaineers shot a sizzling 58 percent from long distance —
including a 5-of-8 performance from Alex Ruoff.
"We just didn't do enough on the defensive end," O'Neill said.
Game of the Day: Only four No. 15 seeds in the history of the NCAA
tournament have won, and Belmont nearly became the fifth. The craziest part was
that the team that almost went down was Duke. The Blue Devils trailed until
Gerald Henderson Jr.'s layup with 11.9 ticks left on the clock.
Upsetting experience: There were no major ones, but No. 11 Kansas State knocked off No. 6 USC in what was a mild upset. It was touted as the
battle of top freshmen — K-State's Michael Beasley vs. USC's O.J. Mayo — but
the forgotten man was Mayo's high school and summer teammate, K-State forward
Bill Walker. Walker finished with 22 points and five boards.
Shining star: Texas A&M's Josh Carter had been in a shooting
slump, but the Aggies junior went 6-of-10 from 3-point range and tied his
career-high with 25 points in a 67-62 win over BYU. Carter was 4-of-20 from long
distance in the last four games.
Duly impressed: UNLV and its coach, Lon Kruger. I saw the Running
Rebels beat BYU by 30 earlier in the season and still doubted them because of
their apparent lack of talent. Well, Kruger's team held Kent State to just 10
first-half points, which tied a tournament record. Can you name one player on
UNLV? Doubt it.
March sadness: Temple's Dionte Christmas was terrific for most of the
year and was the primary reason why the Owls earned a spot in the field.
However, the junior guard was 1-of-12 from the field, 0-of-8 from long distance
and finished with just three points in a loss to Michigan State. It was just the
second time all season he wasn't in double figures.
By the numbers: Purdue, known as a half-court team that struggled to
score points, put up an astounding 90 points in a victory against Baylor. The
Bears were brutal on the defensive end, as the Boilermakers scored a season-high
46 points before the break.
Rollin' along: UCLA lambasted Mississippi Valley State 70-29. It was
so bad that reserve Nikola Dragovic even played 23 minutes for the Bruins.
Fellow No. 1 seed Kansas had no problems with Portland State, 85-61. This one
was relevant for the Jayhawks only because they lost a pair of first-round games
in 2005 and 2006 to Bucknell and Bradley.
Rounding into form: Pittsburgh point guard Levance Fields had his most
impressive performance since returning from a foot injury that forced him to
miss a dozen games. Fields scored 23 points and had seven assists in a rout over
Oral Roberts, which was terrific news for Jamie Dixon's team with a matchup
against Michigan State up next.
End of the line: Georgia's emotional run that saved Bulldogs coach
Dennis Felton's job ended with a loss to Xavier. Georgia led with eight minutes
left, but the Musketeers turned up the defensive intensity down the stretch and
the Bulldogs may have run out of gas. Xavier also got to the line 33 times to
Georgia's five free-throw attempts.
Say what? "You won't hear any of our players say we overlooked
them." — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
"We kind of overlooked them and you can't do that." — Duke
freshman Kyle Singler
Coming up next: Here are my three most intriguing matchups for Friday.
1) Gonzaga vs. Davidson: A battle of two of the top mid-major programs
with a probable matchup with Georgetown on the horizon.
2) Oklahoma vs. St. Joseph's: Sooners freshman Blake Griffin is a guy
you have to watch. Biggest warrior in college basketball.
3) Indiana vs. Arkansas: Am I the only one who wants to see Eric Gordon and D.J. White go against North Carolina in the second round?
RANDOM NOTES: Valparaiso coach Homer Drew was in the stands in
Washington, D.C., to watch his son's team play. ... Marquette assistant Buzz
Williams, who worked for Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M, got the victory
against his former boss. ... BYU has lost six consecutive opening-round games.
... Texas A&M's talented freshman DeAndre Jordan played just five minutes
Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. He
can be reached at GoodmanonFOX@aol.com
or check out his blog, Good