Upsets and Trends From the NCAA Tourney
Butler is this year’s tournament darling. The 12th-seeded Bulldogs advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in school history with a 79-71 stunner over Rick Pitino and fourth-seeded Louisville on Sunday. The Horizon League team that plays in the gym where the ultimate underdog movie, ``Hoosiers,″ was filmed is writing a poignant script of its own. Darnell Archey tied a career high with 26 points for Butler, handed its first at-large berth in 41 years. Next, the Bulldogs take on top-seeded Oklahoma in the East Regional semifinals Friday in Albany, N.Y.
BIG EAST BONANZA
The Big East improved to 8-0 in the NCAA tournament Sunday with wins by Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and they will be joined in the round of 16 by Notre Dame and Connecticut. With the four teams in different regions, an all-Big East Final Four is still possible. The conference received only four bids to the NCAA, which excluded one of its division winners, Boston College. ``Our players are playing with a chip on their shoulders,″ conference commissioner Mike Tranghese said. ``No one had to say anything to them. They felt the league was slighted and it still doesn’t make up for the fact that we only got four teams in.″
Syracuse freshmen Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin bailed the Orangemen out against Oklahoma State in the second round of the East Regional. They overcame an early 14-2 deficit and outscored the Cowboys 66-42 from that point. Anthony had 13 points and Edelin, who is sometimes overlooked, scored a game-high 20. McNamara finished with 14 despite missing nearly six minutes to have a wound bandaged above his nose. ``I don’t think my right eye was working too good,″ McNamara said. ``So I used the left eye to shoot. I had to concentrate a little more.″
Many thought Auburn shouldn’t have made the NCAA tournament. Look at the 10th-seeded now. They stunned second-seeded Wake Forest 68-62 in the East Regional to advance to the round of 16 for the second time in five seasons under coach Cliff Ellis. Auburn also made the regional semifinals under Ellis in 1999. Marquis Daniels led the way, scoring seven of his 18 points in the final four minutes.
Top-seeded Texas advanced to the round of 16 for the second straight year by beating Purdue 77-67 in the South Regional. Now the Longhorns are headed to San Antonio and the Alamodome _ about 80 miles south of their campus in Austin. ``It means a lot,″ said guard T.J. Ford, who had 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. ``We’re going to use the home-court advantage. It just feels good they believed we were going to get there.″
Maryland didn’t need a buzzer beater to advance to the South Regional semifinals and keep its hopes for a second straight national title alive. The Terrapins shut down David West early and beat Xavier 77-64 to reach the round of 16 for the third straight year. In the first round against North Carolina-Wilmington, Maryland won on Drew Nicholas’ desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
GAME TO WATCH: A matchup of perennial powerhouses and coaching greats. Roy Williams and second-seeded Kansas take on Mike Krzyzewski and No. 3 Duke in the West Regional semifinals Thursday night at Anaheim, Calif.
UPSET SPECIAL: Notre Dame over No. 1 seed Arizona in the round of 16 out West. This could be a wide-open, high-scoring game, and the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish have the 3-point shooters to keep up in Matt Carroll, Dan Miller and Chris Thomas.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Marquette junior guard Dwyane Wade is one of the nation’s most talented players, but he could have a hard time getting into an offensive rhythm against Pittsburgh’s tough, physical defense. The Big East champion Panthers, seeded second in the Midwest, have won 11 straight games and allowed 60 points only once in their last seven.
``I was in the zone. I felt like Michael Jordan in ’92 against the Blazers.″ _ Butler’s Darnell Archey after shooting 8-of-9 on 3-pointers to help the 12th-seeded Bulldogs upset No. 4 Louisville in the second round of the East Regional.