Maryland, West Virginia, and Louisville have punched their ticket to the Final Four. No #1 seed has prevailed, but will that change with Syracuse as we head for the West region? Let’s see the results after the jump.
#1 Syracuse vs. #16 Vermont
Unlike 2005, there would be no upset. Vermont led 2-0 and then got destroyed by 36 by the final buzzer. I played the game on the premise that Arinze Ounaku would start for Syracuse but play limited minutes. He wasn’t needed that much. Syracuse 96 Vermont 60.
#8 Gonzaga vs. #9 Florida State
Despite poor performances from Steven Gray and Matt Bouldin, the Zags rallied from a 6 point halftime deficit to knock off the Seminoles in Buffalo. FSU went into the break up 36-30 but had gone cold shooting in the 2nd half, and eventually they lost their lead. With 9:07 to go that would end up being permanent. Gonzaga would take a 52-50 lead on a Mangisto Arop three and never looked back. Gonzaga 71 Florida State 61.
#5 Butler vs. #12 UTEP
The Miners had gotten off to a strong start and were up by 14 at one point in the 1st half. By halftime it was 36-27 but UTEP was still in a good position to pull off the upset. Slowly but surely the Bulldogs would chip away at that lead, and with 6:32 to go in the game Willie Veasley’s reverse layup gave his team a 57-56 edge and their very first lead of the game. A crucial blunder in the final seconds damaged UTEP’s victory hopes, when Arnett Moultrie was called for a 3 second violation and only :15 on the clock with the score 71-69 Butler. With only 3 team fouls, UTEP had to use up all of their fouls to give before the one-and-one bonus and it took off 10 seconds. Now just :05 left, Willie Veasley had a one-and-one to ice the game…
“Veasley hits the first. Next one ices it. It’s off the rim! Moultrie the rebound! He has to hurry and he’ll FIRE IT FOR THE TIE!!! OH IT’S NO GOOD AND BUTLER WINS!” Butler 72 UTEP 69
#4 Vanderbilt vs. #13 Murray State
A game Murray State was never down by more than 8 points in the entire game and even led for a few stretches of the 2nd half. The upset however was not to be as the Commodores drained crucial free throws down the stretch and nullified any last ditch ceombacks from Murray State, but they gave Vandy quite a fight. Vanderbilt 75 Murray State 71
#6 Xavier vs. #11 Minnesota
Maybe Minnesota did belong in the tournament after all. Despite some believing the Golden Gophers should have been in teh NIT after that no-show against Ohio State, Tubby Smith silenced his critics with an upset of Xavier. In a closely contested battle, Minny’s Laurence Westbrook carried the team on his back with a tremendous shooting performance (10-17) and had a game-high 27 points. Devron Bostick hit a couple of free throws late on and the defense held Xavier scoreless for the final 1:33 of the game. Minnesota 75 Xavier 70. These teams sucked from long range, hitting a combined 10-36 three point shots.
#3 Pittsburgh vs. #14 Oakland
Oakland actually led 40-39 at the break. However, as has been the theme for several upset-minded teams, they fell apart in teh 2nd half and found themselves down by 15 with 5:58 left in the game. Pittsburgh cruised to victory from there. Pittsburgh 82 Oakland 73
#7 BYU vs. #10 Florida
BYU led 37-25 with 3:15 left in the 1st half. Florida stormed back to cut it to 39-36 by intermission. A back and forth battle ensued in the 2nd and with :05 remaining the Gators held a slender 82-81 lead and Chandler Parsons looking to extend their advantage at the foul line…
“Parsons hits the first. And he has the second!!! 84-81 and BYU has one last chance. They inbound it to Michael Loyd Jr……time RUNNING OUT! HE FIRES IT UP!!! AND THE SHOT IS SHORT!!! THE GATORS ADVANCE!” Florida 84 BYU 81
#2 Kansas State vs. #15 North Texas
North Texas led 40-35 at halftime and then had a scoring drought in the 2nd half that would be their downfall. Richard Thomas’ 3 pointer cut Kansas State’s lead to 49-47 with 16:28 to go. They wouldn’t score again until the 9:44 mark. KSU was up 60-49 and the game was over. Kansas State 80 North Texas 69.
#1 Syracuse vs. #8 Gonzaga
Gonzaga never lead and the game was all Orange. Syracuse 84 Gonzaga 62
#4 Vanderbilt vs. #5 Butler
Unlike the Gonzaga game, this one was close….for ONE half. Butler blew Vandy out in the 2nd thanks to some incredible three point shooting (11-21 as a team) and eased their way to Salt Lake City. Butler 73 Vanderbilt 50.
#3 Pittsburgh vs. #11 Minnesota
Unlike their first round game, Minnesota slowed down the tempo of the game and played a very low-scoring strategy. It definitely worked in the 1st half, as they held Pitt to just 20 points and led by 10 at intermission. Jamie Dixon’s team tried to conjure up some offense and did rally to close the gap to 47-43. Their efforts were for naught as the Golden Gophers went on a crucial 8-0 run with only a few minutes remaining and knew that a win was in the bag. The upset was complete! Minnesota 59 Pittsburgh 49.
#2 Kansas State vs. #10 Florida
As has been the theme throughout this region, the underdogs held a slender lead at halftime but gave up in the 2nd half. A 38-34 edge for Florida turned into a 58-45 Kansas State romp by the under 12:00 TV timeout. It was a solid team effort by the Wildcats, not one player stood out amongst the rest. Kansas State 71 Florida 60.
#1 Syracuse vs. #5 Butler
Neither team could buy a bucket in the 1st half, but ‘Cuse was up 26-24 at halftime. In stark contrast, both sides ended up scoring at least 40 in the 2nd half. A vital 7-0 run by Jim Boeheim’s team made a 52-48 game an 11 point cushion with 5:19 remaining in the game. Butler fought back but could never get the lead down to 3. Syracuse 73 Butler 64.
#2 Kansas State vs. #11 Minnesota
Poor shooting and getting destroyed on the boards ended Minnesota’s surprising run. They only led for 20 seconds very early in the game and shot just 38.8% from the field. The other discouraging stat for them was their -18 rebound differential. Jacob Pullen of KSU led all scorers with 19 points as they march on to the regional final. Kansas State 74 Minnesota 62.
#1 Syracuse vs. #2 Kansas State
It looked like Syracuse was going to cruise to Indy by storming out of the gates to a 33-20 lead over Kansas State, but an impressive 14-5 run put the game up for grabs as the Orange only led 38-34 at halftime. KSU’s 2nd half started well and Luis Colon’s jumper cut the deficit to just 2, but they would never get any closer. A 7-0 run condemned KSU to defeat and Syracuse to the Final Four. Eventually the game was a laugher and Syracuse led by as many as 20 before the Wildcats put up late garbage points. Syracuse 76 Kansas State 61.
Three Big East teams are in the Final Four. The matchups for tomorrow morning are as follows:
#1 Syracuse vs. #4 Maryland
#2 West Virginia vs. #9 Louisville
Syr/Md winner vs. WVU/Lou winner – National Championship Game
Check in next time to see the conclusion of March Madness Simulated 2010!