No. 2 Ohio State 78, No. 10 Iowa State 75
Aaron Craft dribbled out the clock and launched a game-wining three-pointer to send Ohio State to the Sweet 16. The final minutes of this ballgame were full of missed opportunities and close calls—a controversial charge, a tipped ball out of bounds, a few bricked free throws. Despite some rough moments earlier in the half, Craft never lost his poise and knocked down a cold-blooded shot. He finished with 18 points. OSU’s Deshaun Thomas, characteristically deadly on the offensive end, scored a game-high 22. Iowa State, true to form, put up 25 three-point shots in this game and knocked down 12 of them.
No. 1 Indiana 58, No. 9 Temple 52
The Owls nearly knocked off a Number 1 on Sunday as star guard Khalif Wyatt dropped in 31 points, scoring every which way and shooting 12-24 from the field. Indiana held on, though, largely because of its own talented guard, Victor Oladipo, who finished with 16 points and knocked down a huge three-pointer with 14 seconds left in the game. Temple gave Indy all it could handle—with just under three minutes remaining in regulation, the Owls were up by four points. But the Hoosiers closed out the game with a 10-0 run and finally checked the red-hot Wyatt as the clock ticked toward zero.
“That was a relief,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told reporters. The Hoosiers, their National Championship hopes still very much alive, will play fourth-seeded Syracuse on Thursday.
No. 1 Kansas 70, No. 8 North Carolina 58
Top-seeded Kansas looked impressive as it took down UNC on Sunday, in a game that didn’t quite live up to the hype. Guard Travis Releford scored a game-high 22 points for the Jayhawks, while blossoming big man Jeff Withey put up one hell of a stat line: 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots.
No. 13 La Salle 76, No. 12 Mississippi 74
La Salle’s Tyron Garland called his on-the-run, game-winning shot a “Southwest Philly Floater.” It happened with two seconds left in the game, a little driving layup over the Mississippi defender that gave the Explorers a two-point lead and punched their ticket to the Sweet 16. “Time was running out, and I felt like I could get the drive,” Garland told the AP. “When I cut, I just saw an opening and took the ball up.”
Big-time guard Ramon Galloway continued his explosive season with a game-high 24 points. Fellow Explorer Tyreek Duren scored 19, while Garland finished with 17. Sharpshooter Marshall Henderson led Ole Miss with 21 points.
La Salle’s improbable run (the Explorers knocked out Wisconsin in the second round) has been largely overshadowed by Florida Gulf Coast, but the Explorers’ story is equally compelling. La Salle hasn’t enjoyed this kind of post-season success since 1955, when the small Philadelphia school reached the National Championship game. They’ll be hunting for an Elite Eight spot on Thursday when they run into Wichita State.
No. 3 Florida 78, No. 11 Minnesota 64
The Gators’ Mike Rosario scored 25 points (including six three-point buckets) to lead Florida past Minnesota on Sunday. This tough Tournament loss was Tubby Smith’s last game as the Gophers head coach; Minnesota fired him on Monday. Smith had spent six seasons in Minneapolis.
Florida plays Florida Gulf Coast on Friday in a battle for state supremacy.
No. 2 Miami 63, No. 7 Illinois 59
Illinois kept it close, but Miami’s Shane Larkin, the ACC Player of the Year, hit a gorgeous step-back three-pointer in the game’s final minute to give the Hurricanes a slim lead. Then, as the clock wound down, the ball was tipped out of bounds and the close call went against Illinois. Miami closed out an exciting game and advanced to the Sweet 16. Rion Brown scored 21 points for the Canes; Brandon Paul had 18 for the Illini.
No. 2 Duke 66, No. 7 Creighton 50
Duke churned out a dominant performance against MVC-champ Creighton on Sunday, holding the talented Jays to just 30.2 percent shooting from the field. Rasheed Sulaimon led the Blue Devils with 21 points, while Seth Curry scored 17. Creighton’s POY finalist, Doug McDermott, was just 4-16 from the field but still managed 21 points. Duke squares off against Michigan State in the Round of 16.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Khalif Wyatt, Temple
The 6-4 senior guard wrapped up his Temple career with two fine outings at the NCAA Tournament. On Friday against NC State, Wyatt scored 31 points on 9-22 shooting and led the Owls into the Round of 32. On Sunday he again scored 31 and almost singlehandedly ruined Indiana’s season; Temple fell just short and lost the game, 58-52. Congrats, Mr. Wyatt, on a fine Tournament and a nice run for the Owls.
The NCAA has announced the four finalists for the 2013 Naismith Men’s Player of the Year. They are: Doug McDermott, Creighton; Otto Porter Jr, Georgetown; Trey Burke, Michigan; and Victor Oladipo, Indiana.
“These four players have performed at the highest level and have separated themselves appropriately from the other contenders,” Shane Battier, a spokesman for the Naismith award, said in a press release. “As wide open as the NCAA Tournament is, so will the race for the 2013 Naismith Trophy winner, and that’s what makes college basketball so exciting.” A little stale, Shane, but not bad. Incidentally, Battier is the only men’s player to have won both a high school and collegiate Naismith trophy. Who knew? By the way, fan voting began March 25 and runs until April 6. Call **VOTE (**8683) to cast your vote for Player of the Year.
Congrats to McDermott, Porter, Burke and Oladipo—you’ve all played exceptional basketball this season.
GAMES I’LL BE WATCHING
Only eight games on the schedule Thursday and Friday, so I’ll be watching all of them!
No. 9 Wichita State vs No. 13 La Salle, Thursday, 10:17 ET
Two good shooting teams who no one thought would be here.
No. 1 Indiana vs No. 4 Syracuse, Thursday, 9:45 ET
How will Zeller and company deal with the vaunted Cuse zone? Intriguing coaching matchup, too.
No. 6 Arizona vs No. 2 Ohio State, Thursday, 7:47 p.m. EST
The Buckeyes barely survived the Round of 32; they’ll take on a surging Arizona team.
No. 3 Marquette vs No. 2 Miami, Thursday, 7:15 p.m. EST
Can the Golden Eagles win another close game? Or will Miami’s strong, athletic lineup win the day?
No. 1 Louisville vs No. 12 Oregon, Friday, 7:15 p.m. ET
The Ducks have looked good through two games, but Louisville could be the best team in this tournament. Dana Altman’s club will have its hands full.
No. 1 Kansas vs No. 4 Michigan, Friday, 7:37 p.m. EST
Another stiff test for the young Wolverines. Kansas is talented, well-coached and playing its best ball of the season.
No. 3 Michigan State vs No. 2 Duke, Friday, 9:45 p.m. EST
Izzo vs Coach K in the Sweet 16. Enough said.
No. 3 Florida vs No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, Friday, 9:57 p.m. EST
Can those fun-loving Eagles from FGCU pull off another stunner?