Assuming there will be upsets in the NCAA tournament is a much safer assumption than assuming I’m welcoming Andy Pettitte back in pinstripes with open arms and warm smiles. Yet safe in this situation still proves more exciting.
And there was a bunch of excitement in Friday’s Midwest games.
“NC State Upset”:
The NC State Wolfpack (with two starting players named CJ)–the 11th seed in the Midwest region–upset the San Diego State Aztecs–the 6th seed–in today’s game 79-65.
The first half was close, with six lead changes, but the Wolfpack were able to shut out the Aztec’s star guard, Chase Tapley, who was covered largely by their go-to 3-point shooter, Scott Wood.
With four minutes left in the game, the Wolfpack had their largest lead of 11 points. They were 59 percent in shooting with four players in double figures. CJ Williams scored the final basket.
Richard Howell was the high scorer with 22 points, leading the new-found shining team under coach Mark Gottfried.
The last time NC State won a tourney game I was googly-eyed over my shiny brand new Macbook running on Tiger (2006). They’ll look for a repeat performance on Sunday against Georgetown – the third seed.
North Carolina State 79
San Diego State 65
"Up North Upset"
In a fight in the wild, would you put your money on a bobcat or a wolverine? Well most people put court-money on the wolverines. I'm sure those people are crying like they’d just been attacked by a wild animal.
The Ohio Bobcats (#13) upset the Michigan Wolverines (#4) in Friday’s game 65-60.
The teams had three lead changes and four ties in the first half. The Bobcats were able to maintain a comfortable lead by the second, with 58 percent shooting. The Wolverines gained on them, coming within 3 points, with a little over four minutes left in the game after Trey Burke sunk a 3-pointer.
With 17 seconds left, down by three, Michigan had the ball and the chance to tie. But Smotrycz (pronounced Smah-trich) mishandled it, fouling out and giving Offitt a chance to increase Ohio’s lead with two free throws. He nailed both, and the Bobcats won by five, moving on to play USF on Sunday.
Ohio coach John Groce was pleased with how his team played and thought the key to their success was that they were able to defend well. Ohio shot 51 percent and held Michigan to just 41 percent. They were especially effective in defending against 3-pointers, known to be Michigan’s usual strong suit (7 for 23 = 30%).
“Oh – Ma – Ga from Oh – Ma Ha”
Alabama (9) vs. Creighton (8)
I know, choosing the 8/9 game in a tourney bracket is as hard as finding an excuse to follow the Lakers now that D-Fish is gone.
The Alabama Crimson Tide unfortunately channeled the Clippers from last night when they dominated the Creighton Bluejays and held a lead up until the last four minutes and then lost. (Just as the Clippers dominated the Suns… and then lost last night).
The Bluejays were held to a season low of 23 for the first half of the game. But then they overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half and managed to pull their first NCAA tournament victory in 10 years.
With 5 seconds on the clock, Creighton had a 1 point lead and Alabama had the ball and the chance to pull the win, but Trevor Reieford’s 3-point attempt was too short, leaving Creighton to move on to face number one seed North Carolina on Sunday.
The last time Creighton won a tourney game I was sporting curly poodle hair in front of a massive desk PC monitor. Ok, I’ll stop.
Other scores from the Midwest Region on Friday
North Carolina 77
St. Mary’s 69
Purdue hung on and won it, despite blowing a double digit lead!
South Florida 58
Another major upset. It’s as if there were more upsets than sure-things in this region this year!
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS