NCAA Basketball Tournament: The Elite 8
The theme for the Elite 8 was that if it didn’t go to overtime, it wasn’t close. Two of the games were controlled by one team from the get go, while the other two had to go to an extra five minute period to decide the winner. The final four is now set, with no one seeds for the first time in twenty years.
LSU 70 Texas 60
After LSU recovered from their slow start, no team was able to break away from the other in this one. Tyrus Thomas and Glen Davis were the unstoppable force that they’ve been all tournament long. After being significantly out played by Sheldon Williams, Glen Davis answered his doubters by outplaying potential number one pick Lamarcus Aldridge. Glen Davis had 26 points along with 9 boards while holding Aldridge to 2-14 shooting from the field. He pushed Lamarcus out from his comfort zone and kept him from getting anything to the basket, while abusing him with his size down low. Despite not getting much offensive production from Aldridge and Tucker, Texas was able to send it into OT on a Daniel Gibson three off a broken play.
Ben Howland knew what it would take to beat this team from the get go. "If they score 88 points, we won’t win." and he had visual evidence to back it up as the Memphis Tigers beat the Bruins 88-80 in a preseason NIT game. UCLA played to their strengths this time though, holding Memphis to almost half the amount of points they scored in their first meeting. Neither team shot over 35% from the field. It’s took four years, but Ryan Hollins has become a presence. His 14 points and 9 boards, along with Aaron Afflalo’s 15 points helped the Bruins get back to a place they haven’t seen in awhile, the final four.
Uconn hasn’t been performing up to their potential all tournament long. They needed late heroics every game against significantly less talented teams. On the other hand, George Mason has been playing way above their potential all tournament, and were ready to give UConn everything they had. Uconn put together a late first half run to give themselves a 9 point lead going into the half, but those George Mason players don’t go away. In the second half, they milked Jai Lewis and Will Thomas, who just dominated Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone. Lewis and Thomas combined for 39 points and 19 boards, to Armstrong and Boone’s 14 and 9. Armstrong and Boone are two guys who are firmly on the NBA radar, and to get dominated by two guys who were going to going to go out and use their degrees after this season is just unacceptable. George Mason was in control late in the game, but Rudy Gay kept the Huskies close. Gay finally showed the assertiveness that Huskie fans have been waiting on for two years. Up two with five seconds left, 80% free throw shooter Tony Skinn went to the line and missed the front end of a one and one. Marcus Williams pushed the ball up the court and gave it to Denham Brown who scored on a reverse lay up over two George Mason players to send it into OT.
A large reason why Boston College couldn’t beat Florida was because they only have one dominant low post presence to go at Villanova’s four guard line up. Florida, largely in part to the dominance of Joakim Noah and Al Horford, were able to really take it to Villanova’s lack of size. Noah’s 21 and 15 along with Horford’s 12 and 15 helped the Gators control the game. The Wildcats were able to cause 16 turnovers, but got relatively nothing from Kyle Lowry, Mike Nardi, and Allan Ray. Villanova was able to snag 22 offensive rebounds, but that was largely in part to their 24.7% shooting from the field. Villanova was a one seed, but with their small line up it wasn’t hard to see them struggle against a bigger and stronger Florida team.