There were 68 teams that participated in the 2011 NCAA© Tournament. Now there are only four remaining.
The Final Four teams:
Butler: The Butler Bulldogs are an eight seed in the Southwest region. They were able to defeat Old Dominion in the round of 64 on a buzzer beater, and then upset #1 seed Pittsburgh with a free throw (in a controversial ending), to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Butler then defeated #4 seed Wisconsin. In the Elite Eight, the Bulldogs won in an overtime thriller over #2 seed Florida to make consectutive Final Four appearances. The Indianapolis university will compete against VCU in the Final Four.
VCU: The Virginia Commonwealth Rams surprised plenty of people when they made the tournament. As an eleven seed, they played a First Four game versus USC and won handily. Then, in the round of 64, they smashed #6 seed Georgetown by 18 points. They proceeded to do the same versus #3 seed Purdue in the round of 32. In the Sweet Sixteen, VCU defeated Florida State in a tight game by two points. In the Elite Eight, VCU shocked #1 seed and President Obama’s National Champion pick, Kansas. VCU will make its first ever Final Four appearance versus the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday.
Connecticut: UConn entered the tournament as a #3 seed after winning the Big East Championship. They crushed #14 seed Bucknell and defeated #6 seed and Big East rival Cincinnati to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Then they beat #2 seed San Diego State to move on the Elite Eight. The Connecticut Huskies were able to edge #5 seed Arizona to advance to the Final Four.
Kentucky: The Wildcats earned a #4 seed in the big dance. Their toughest challenge was perhaps against #13 seed Princeton, narrowly defeating the tigers 59-57 in the round of 64. Next was a matchup against #5 seed West Virginia to advance to the sweet sixteen. UK prevailed and then proceeded to play the overall #1 seed Ohio State Buckeyes (okay, maybe this was their toughest challenge). Kentucky pulled off the upset in a 62-60 thrilling victory. Finally, the Cats’ were able to outplay #2 seed North Carolina in the Elite Eight, to advance to the Final Four. They will meet Connecticut in the National Semifinals.
Cincinnati Bearcats play the #3 seeded Connecticut Huskies tonight at 9:40 p.m. on TBS. After a five-year absence in the tournament, the Bearcats defeated #11 seeded Missouri handily, 78-63 in the round of 64. A Cincinnati win delivers a sweet sixteen berth. However, the Huskies and its star player, Kemba Walker, will prove to be an immense challenge. Connecticut won in its only meeting with the Cats’ 67-59 at Fifth Third Arena. The winner of this tournament game will play the winner of the San Diego State and Temple game.
So the time has finally arrived, get your brackets and out and start your journey to the perfect bracket. Well, let’s say at least a winning bracket, since the odds for an unblemished bracket are over 9.2 quintillion to 1. Anyway Xavier and Cincinnati, in the same year, are in the NCAA© tournament for the first time in a while. The Bearcats’ 5 year absence has left fans very anxious for this tournament. Xavier, in the meantime, is looking for 4 consecutive sweet sixteen appearances. Here is what lays ahead for the hometown teams:
The Cats’ are back in the dance, and will play #11 seeded Missouri Tigers at 9:30 (approx.) in the West Region. The Bearcats received a #6 seed, themselves. Despite the better seed, many experts like Missouri upsetting UC in the Round of 64. The West Region is littered with strong teams including: Duke, San Diego State, and Connecticut. If UC will be able to hold off the tigers, a likely Big East rematch between Connecticut would occur.
Xavier after being upset by Dayton in the Atlantic Ten Tournament, will play #11 seeded Marquette Golden Eagles Friday at 7:30 (approx.). The Musketeers were also seeded #6. Marquette will be pose a threat to XU. However, Xavier’s star player Tu Holloway and the rest of the team will be ready to rebound after the disspointing loss to Dayton. Xavier is located in the East Region, along with Ohio State, North Carolina and Syracuse. Syracuse would likely be XU’s second round opponent, should they both win Friday.
Perhaps the most thrilling part of the tournament are the upsets. Here are a few possible sleeper teams to watch out for:
- Richmond no.12 seed
- Utah State no.12 seed
- Oakland (MI) no. 13 seed
- Wofford no.14 seed
- Old Dominion no.9 seed (possible second round upset?)
This isn’t saying they are going to win. But their opponents should not take them lightly. Expect the sixteen seed drought to continue. Although UNC-Asheville is an entertaining team, expect Ohio State and the other #1 seeds to coast through the first round.
Visit this site to watch all of the games for free: mmod.ncaa.com
The Cincinnati Bearcats destroyed the South Florida Bulls yesterday 87-61 in the second round of the Big East Championship held at Madison Square Garden. Led by center Yancy Gates’s 25 points, the Bearcats will play Notre Dame (#2 seed) tonight in the quarterfinals at 7:00 on ESPN. Cincinnati lost in the quarterfinals last year to West Virginia thanks to a buzzer beater.
The Miami Heat just lost their fifth straight game (this one to the Bulls). It appears the players are taking it hard, as Coach Erik Spoelstra made a comment mentioning that a couple of the players were crying after Sunday’s loss. But the Heat are still 43-20 and one of the best teams in the NBA. Perhaps their struggles are being overemphasized. However, with stars like Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dewayne Wade, many think the team is underachieving.
Our sports picture of the week is not of a professional nor even a college athlete. It is of Fenville High School (in Michigan) basketball player, Wes Leonard being hoisted up by teammates, after winning an overtime game, and finishing a perfect season of 20 wins and 0 losses. But minutes after this amazing performance, Leonard collapsed on the court and died of a rare heart condition. The condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, brought on cardiac arrest. The story has made national headlines, as the high school community grieves. A very shocking and sad story, but at the very least Leonard finished out on top.
Photo Credit: Dennis Geppert/The Holland Sentinel