Have you exhaled yet? College basketball at its highest level was on display last night with three down-to-the-wire thrillers out of the four total games. SI's Grant Wahl put it best in an article from today, saying, "Are you starting to see why a rash of opening-week upsets aren't always the greatest thing?" Amen. Now we get the best teams playing against each other, and yesterday, that produced three classic games. Some of my quick thoughts from last night:
- The Ohio State-Tennessee game encapsulates the Volunteers' season. They're capable of looking like world beaters when they're on their game, forcing their frenetic pace on the opponent and draining 3s. That's what happened in the first half when they raced out to a 20 point lead. But that hyper-aggressive style can also let teams back, and sure enough, the Buckeyes worked their magic for the second consecutive game, making it a workable margin very early in the second half.
- I have to come clean and admit it. I never thought Memphis would get so far, and I was very wrong. They've certainly got plenty of talent, and are determined to prove the many doubters out there. I think the win against Texas A&M shut up most of those doubters, myself included. And to do it in what essentially amounted to a road game in front of a throng of Aggie supporters in San Antonio made it all the more impressive. With Ohio State looking vulnerable, the Tigers have a great shot to make the Final Four.
- On the other hand, my opinion on Pittsburgh was confirmed with yet another Sweet 16 exit for Jamie Dixon's crew. For some reason, year in and year out, they have not had the ability to win the really big game. They're consistently at a level where you consider them one of the very good teams in college basketball, but they're struggling to reach the elite status.
- Kansas showed they were capable of winning a close game against a defensively smothering team in Southern Illinois, a huge statement for a team that likes to get up and down the floor and score a lot of points. This was about as great a preparation as they could have had in advance of playing another defensive-minded team in UCLA in the Regional Final.
Four more games tonight!
Georgetown vs. Vanderbilt
North Carolina vs. USC
Oregon vs. UNLV
Florida vs. Butler