NCAA Sweet 16: Top seeds advance
Kentucky is so awesome right now you are probably watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to see who is going to get second.
The undefeated Wildcats were scary good Thursday night in crushing West Virginia. The score was so lopsided the game was over before the first television timeout.
While the Wildcats won in a blowout, Notre Dame and Wisconsin also advanced to the Elite Eight with less-than-comfortable wins. The Fighting Irish pulled away from Wichita State while the Badgers shook off pesky North Carolina.
During the nightcap a lot of televisions — outside the commonwealth of Kentucky — probably changed channels. The good news was Arizona and Xavier played a terrific game in the final contest of the night.
Wildcats destroy Mountaineers
Perhaps you shouldn’t provoke the beast that is Kentucky.
In the week leading up to the game, West Virginia’s Daxter Miles said, “I give them them their props. Salute them getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1.”
Mr. Miles missed his guaranteed win by miles.
The Wildcats smoked the Mountaineers 78-39 Thursday night in a Midwest Region contest that was never a contest. Kentucky raced to an 18-2 lead — they should have stopped it then — and had five players score in double figures on the night. Trey Lyles was the Wildcats’ top scorer with 14 points.
West Virginia couldn’t guard anyone, except maybe the official who went down when he tripped over a Mountaineer waiting at the scoring table.
Kentucky’s 37-0 record is the best start in NCAA history, which has Kentucky superfan Ashley Judd super excited.
It’s still a ‘W’ for Arizona
It wasn’t a pretty game for the Wildcats’ offense, but Arizona scratched its way past Xavier 68-60 in a West Region semifinal.
Arizona shot 40 percent, while Xavier wasn’t much better at 43 percent.
The Wildcats tightened their defense toward the end, closing out with a 19-7 run that pushed them to a win and a meeting Saturday with Wisconsin. It’s a rematch of an Elite 8 game last year, which the Badgers won by one point.
T.J. McConnell topped all Arizona scorers with 17 points while Matt Stainbrook led Xavier with 17 points.
Notre Dame runs away with it
The Irish found the right balance in the second half, putting the Shockers away for a 81-70 victory in the Midwest Region. Notre Dame trailed by 1 with 16:43 left when it went on a spurt that saw six different players score as the lead grew to double digits.
Demetrius Jackson, who started the run with back-to-back three-pointers, led the Irish with 20 points. Two-sport star Pat Connaughton had 16. Steve Vasturia, who one CBS analyst called a baby-faced assassin, chipped in 13 points.
Jerian Grant, a national player of the year candidate, had a rough night shooting, so he set up his teammates for buckets instead. He had nine points but 11 assists.
Junior Fred VanVleet led the Shockers with 25 points while Darius Carter maneuvered inside for 22.
Wisconsin keeps poise in close one
Wisconsin played cool and shot hot from the free-throw line in holding off North Carolina 79-72.
Sam Decker was trending on Twitter but the Tar Heels were concerned about Sam Dekker (two Ks, folks!), the Wisconsin forward who wasn’t having any trouble scoring against the fourth-seeded Tar Heels.
Dekker, who was guarded by the Heels’ best defender, J.P. Tokoto, sliced his way for 15 first-half points to keep the Badgers in the game. The junior had a career-high 23 points on the night while Frank Kaminsky, one of the best players in the country, struggled. But the 7-foot tall center hit a big three and big free throws as the minutes wound down.
The Badgers were 20 for 23 from the free throw line. Kaminsky hit all eight of his attempts.
Folks also got worked up over seeing Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and actress girlfriend Olivia Munn at the game. Seems like TBS cut to a shot of the two at every break in the action.
How’d you like to be the guy next to Rodgers? He won two U.S. Open golf titles, yet isn’t famous enough to get all the way in the celebrity fan shot. It’s OK, Andy North.
NCAA Sweet 16: Top seeds advance