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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Men's Basketball

March Madness in full effect, Sweet 16 field set

With the Arizona Wildcats beating Texas 70-69 yesterday, there are no more Texas schools remaining in the NCAA Tournament.  | Shane Keyser/Kansas City Star/MCT

With the Arizona Wildcats beating Texas 70-69 yesterday, there are no more Texas schools remaining in the NCAA Tournament. | Shane Keyser/Kansas City Star/MCT

Even if it were but a tiny glimpse, 68 teams had an opportunity to win the national championship less than a week ago.

Now just 16 remain.

Spectators have been taken on the emotional rollercoaster that March Madness entails. The season has come to a disappointing end, and even abrupt ending for 52 schools – breaking the collective hearts of the coaches, players and supporters in the process.

Buzzer-beating shots have been hit, and the entertaining level of parity that fans come to expect with the NCAA Tournament has been prevalent.

Plenty of brackets are busted – including commander and hoops junkie-in chief President Obama’s. With No. 1 seed Pittsburgh falling to No. 8 seed Butler 71-70 in the closing minutes of second-round play Saturday. Butler was the runner-up last season, and is now two wins away from a repeat trip to the Final Four.

With the Panthers’ exit, the Southeast region is up for grabs. Butler will face Wisconsin next weekend, along with the other game between BYU and Florida.

The Cougars defer to sensational scorer Jimmer Fredette for the majority of their offense. The Florida Gators are guided by head coach Billy Donovan, and won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007.

Yet the other three No. 1 seeds have survived, and will look to defend that status.

Duke, the defending national champions, is the No. 1 seed of the West region. The Blue Devils and advanced through the first round against Hampton and hung on to beat Michigan 73-71 Sunday. With the win, legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up his 900th career victory. Eight games into the season, speedy freshman point guard Kyrie Irving broke a toe in December. He returned in the first round to score 14 points and added 11 yesterday.

Duke’s next game is against Arizona. The Wildcats defeated Texas by one point yesterday in a contest that had four lead changes in the last four minutes.

Duke or Arizona will face the winner of No. 3 seed UConn and No. 2 San Diego State. The Aztecs were the team to beat in the Mountain West Conference throughout the regular season.

Head coach Jim Calhoun and the Huskies won the Big East Tournament. The dynamic play of junior guard Kemba Walker has contributed significantly to the Huskies’ run.

Walker carried UConn to the Maui Tournament Title in November, and then won five games in five days to become the 2011 champions of the Big East Tournament.

The Southwest region has three teams vying to become this year’s Cinderella and No. 1 seed Kansas. The Jayhawks will face Richmond who beat Vanderbilt and fellow mid-major Moorehead State.

No. 11 seed Virginia-Commonwealth has been the darling of the tournament beating Georgetown by 18 in the first round and Purdue yesterday by 22.

The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight will conclude this weekend with the East regionals being hosted in Newark, N.J. and the West in Anaheim, Calif.
The Southwest regional final is in San Antonio and the Southeast will wrap up in New Orleans.


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