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The College Basketball Notebook


March 21, 2010 9:00 AM

Bracket-Busting & The Big 12

More bracket-busting and the Big 12 were the story of the day in the first part of the second round. Kansas was stunned by Northern Iowa, but two other Big 12 teams saw electrifying performances by guards, as Jacob Pullen and LaceDarius Dunn pushed Kansas State and Baylor into the Sweet 16. Let’s take a look at the eight games played. Keep in mind that in only one regional (the South, with Baylor-St. Mary’s) do yesterday’s winners meet in the next round. The other six teams await today’s results.

EAST
*Kentucky 90 Wake Forest 60—The Wildcats played a dominant basketball game in all phases, but particularly on defense. They held Wake to 32 percent from the floor and 2-of-13 behind the arc. Four starters played great, with particular mention going to Darius Miller who scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds from the guard spot. Kentucky gets the winner of Wisconsin-Cornell.

*Washington 82 New Mexico 64—The Notebook’s been saying since the start of the tournament to beware the Huskies. Since February, they’ve played like the team everyone thought they could be at the start of the season and now they’ve followed up a Pac-10 tournament title with wins over Marquette and New Mexico. The region’s #2 seed, West Virginia, could await them next week, if the Mountaineers survive Missouri.

SOUTH
*Baylor 76 Old Dominion 68—After a turnover-plagued first game, Baylor was much sharper. Point guard Tweety Carter took care of the ball and distributed eight assists against zero turnovers. And in a game where both starting lineups were pretty balanced, the spectacular Dunn with his 26, was the difference maker.

*St. Mary’s 75 Villanova 68—The fade of the Wildcats is complete and may they rest in peace. The frontcourt problems can be summed up in that season-long starter Antonio Pena wasn’t in the starting five yesterday, played only 12 minutes and got two rebounds. Meanwhile, Gael center Omar Samhan was a machine, with 32 points and 7 rebounds.

MIDWEST
*Northern Iowa 69 Kansas 67—As the score shows, this stunner was evenly played across the board. Ultimately the difference was behind the arc, where Northern Iowa hit nine treys to Kansas’ six. And turnovers were a factor. Jayhawk point guard Sherron Collins coughed it up five times, and helped give UNI of a 15-9 edge, enough to swing a close game. Turnovers don’t get the same attention in the NCAA as they do in the NFL, but they decide elimination games just as surely. Northern Iowa awaits Maryland or Michigan State.

*Tennessee 83 Ohio 68—The Vols took advantage of a break in the draw, shooting 56 percent and hitting the glass with abandon. Forwards Wayne Chism and Brian Williams had a dozen rebounds apiece, while the backcourt took care of the scoring, J.P. Prince and Scotty Hopson combining for 35. Bruce Pearl and his team will get the Ohio State-Georgia Tech winner.

WEST
*Butler 54 Murray State 52—Turnovers were the issue here too. Murray State outshot the Bulldogs from the floor and outrebounded them, but losing turnovers 6-6 cost them the game. Four Butler starters were in double figures, as they can now relax and see who wins Syracuse-Gonzaga today.

*Kansas State 84 BYU 72—Pullen turned in one of the great performances of the tournament thus far, scoring 34 points to lead the Wildcats past a tough midmajor team in a year that’s seen lesser midmajors advance. This game was played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, home of the NBA’s Thunder, and Pullen’s performance was Durant-esque. K-State gets the Pitt-Xavier winner.

See you tonight to look at all of today’s games. No matter how many tournaments you watch, the speed this suddenly gets narrowed down to 16 is always a little surreal.

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