You had to stay up late to see the best of Friday's action. But if you were awake to see heart-stopping wins by Siena and Wisconsin, as well as a stunner by Cleveland State, you know it was well worth the wait. If you missed it, then this post is a must-read...
Ronald Moore, Siena: CBS analyst Bill Raftery has a catch phrase for when a player hits a big shot: Onions! And he got to break it out twice on Friday night thanks to Moore. Moore actually had a shaky night, shooting just 4 for 13 from the field. With Siena down three to Ohio State and time running out in overtime, Moore pulled up and drilled a three with 3.5 seconds left, forcing a second OT. Then, down one in the final seconds of the second overtime, Moore caught and fired, drilling a three with 3.9 seconds left to win the game. And he did it all in front of a hostile crown in Dayton, Ohio.
Cleveland State Vikings: The 13th-seeded Vikes won at Syracuse earlier this season. And they finally topped Butler in the Horizon League tournament to capture an NCAA berth. On Friday night, they simply took it to 4th-seeded Wake Forest. Senior forward J'Nathan Bullock went for 21 points against Wake's strong frontcourt. Senior point guard Cedric Jackson added 19 and eight assists. And sophomore swing man Norris Cole chipped in a game-high 22 points. It all added up to an easy 15-point win for Cleveland State.
Trevon Hughes, Wisconsin: Hughes has had an up-and-down career for the Badgers. Friday night was definitely an "up" moment. With 12th-seeded Wisconsin trailing by one to 5th-seeded Florida State in overtime, Hughes drove the lane, spun, and hit a runner in traffic while being fouled. He converted the free throw with two seconds left, and the Badgers are headed to Round 2.
Byron Eaton, Oklahoma State: Like Hughes, Eaton has had plenty of peaks and valleys in his career with the Cowboys. But he came up huge in leading 8th-seeded OSU over 9th-seeded Tennessee. Trailing by one down the stretch, Eaton blew by a defender and made a lay-up while getting fouled. He converted the free throw for his 20th point, clinching the Cowboys' spot in Round 2.
East Tennessee State Pirates: There's never been a 16 seed beat a 1 seed, but the Pirates at least came close. They were within two points of top-seeded Pittsburgh late in the game. They held their own on the boards against the bigger, bruising Panthers, and turned it over just nine times. But ETSU couldn't overcome their unusually poor shooting. The shot .336 percent from three and .715 percent from the line on the season. On Friday, they shot just .182 percent from three and .500 from the line. The effort was outstanding though.
NCAA Selection Committee: It always amazes me. The NCAA Selection Committee is made up of a bunch of old men and women who make piles of money off the backs of hard-working players. You'd think they'd at least put a little effort into their jobs. But apparently not. The committee sent Ohio State, an 8th seed, to essentially play a home game in Dayton, Ohio. It was incredibly unfair, and the Buckeyes almost beat a Siena team that probably would have won by double-digits on a neutral court. They lost in overtime. But if they had won, OSU would have been playing a virtual home game against Louisville. That's right, the selection committee was so lazy in putting together the bracket that they nearly had the Tournament's top seed playing a road game in Round 2. It's about time we get someone with basketball sense, or at least common sense, on this committee.
ACC: North Carolina, Maryland, and Duke held up their end of the bargain. But this Tournament has been one to forget for the Atlantic Coast Conference. 7th-seeded Clemson got upended by Michigan on Thursday night. And things got much worse on Friday. First, 7th-seeded Boston College got handled by 10th-seeded USC. Then 4th-seeded Wake Forest essentially didn't show up in falling victim to 13th-seeded Cleveland State. And the night ended with 5th-seeded Florida State blew a 12-point halftime lead and fell to 12th-seeded Wisconsin in overtime.CBS: The network has broadcast the Tournament for years. And they certainly struggle with the difficult juggling of close games happening at the same time. But man, Friday night was as bad as it gets. Siena and Ohio State were in overtime, while Wisconsin and Florida State were tied in the final seconds of regulation. For audiences getting OSU-Siena, CBS switched to the final seconds of regulation in Wisconsin-FSU. There was Wisconsin, setting up for the final shot. The clock counted down, 5, 4, 3... Jordan Taylor launched the potential game-winning three, and with the shot in mid-air... CBS switched back to OSU-Siena. Just awful television.