NCAA Sweet 16 Musings and Highlights (3/26/15)

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  • Highlight of the Night – #3 Notre Dame defeats #7 Wichita St. 81-70 – Notre Dame started the game strong and within the first five minutes they were leading the game 15-5 and shooting 6-7 from the field.  Wichita St. was up against a team with the 2nd best shooting percentage (50.9%) in the NCAA and by the end of the night Notre Dame would surpass their average by shooting 55.6% from the field.  Wichita St., in their second straight Sweet 16 appearance, used their experience to close the gap and by the end of the 1st half they were trailing Notre Dame 33-30.  Notre Dame started the game shooting 8-10 and finished the half shooting 4-20.  Thankfully, CBS showed the stat that Notre Dame had a 25-2 record when leading at the half, so I was trying to remain calm going into the 2nd half.  Wichita St. took its first lead, 38-37, four minutes into the 2nd half.  Notre Dame finally adjusted their offense and went back to what was successful in the 1st half, which was good half-court movement and several fantastic back-door moves that resulted in baskets by Pat Connaughton.  Wichita St. started the 2nd half shooting 3-12 and the poor play of their weak-side defense led to Notre Dame points.  Notre Dame was leading Wichita St. 56-46 with a little over eleven minutes left and they proceeded to dominate the remainder of the game and ended the game shooting 75% in the second half.  Wichita St.’s full-court press was able to force turnovers, but they were unable to get the lead under 10 points in the last seven minutes.  Wichita St. had a poor night shooting, going 40% from the field and 16.7% (3-18) from the 3-point line.  Pat Connaughton had another superb performance with 16 points (7-12) and 10 rebounds (his ninth double-double of the season).  The other starters for Notre Dame also had a fantastic game:  Demetrius Jackson – 20 points (4-5 3pt.); Zach Auguste – 15 points (6-6); Jerian Grant – 9 points, 11 assists; and Steve Vasturia – 15 points.  Notre Dame advances to the Elite 8 for the first time since 1979 and will face the winner of the Kentucky/West Virginia game.
  • 2nd Highlight of the Night – Great alley-oop dunk (Demetrius Jackson to Zach Auguste) with a little under seven minutes remaining to give Notre Dame a 67-56 lead.
  • 3rd Highlight of the Night – Pat Connaughton’s scoop shot with a little under twelve minutes remaining to give Notre Dame a 10 point lead 56-46.
  • 4th Highlight of the Night – #1 Wisconsin defeats #4 North Carolina 79-72 – The first Big Ten Conference team to advance to the Elite 8 is Wisconsin with their impressive win over North Caroline.  An outstanding performance by Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker who achieved his first double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds.  After a slow start with only four points in the 1st half, Frank Kaminsky finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds.  North Carolina for the night shot 66.7% from the 3-point line and was within a point with under a minute remaining, but Wisconsin continued to make great defensive and offensive plays down the stretch to hold off North Carolina.  Wisconsin moves on to the Elite 8 for the 2nd straight year and will play the winner of the Arizona/Xavier game.
  • I have never completely forgiven Aaron Rodgers for being Brett Favre’s replacement on the Packers, but I think that after seeing Rodgers in the stands supporting Wisconsin I may finally let go of that grudge (Gabby just gave me a look of disbelief).
  • Gabby is pouting tonight over a reduction in her playtime and refused to pose for a photo for this blog even though her overall bracket winner, Wisconsin, is moving on to the Elite 8.
  • Another strong game by Wichita St.’s guard, Fred VanVleet, who finished the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Unfortunately, there were not any new commercials worth mentioning, but the Reebok Pump shoe commercial did lead to another nostalgia moment for the 80’s and 90’s.  The commercial brought back the memory of the original Reebok Pump released in 1989 and the 1991 NBA Dunk Contest won by Dee Brown after he pumps his Reebok shoes.
  • Notre Dame will be playing Kentucky on Saturday night for a chance to move on to the Final Four, after #1 Kentucky took a 44-18 halftime lead before defeating #5 West Virginia 78-39.
  • Notre Dame last reached the Elite 8 in 1979, where they lost to the eventual NCAA Champions, Magic Johnson and the MSU Spartans.  Two former Detroit Pistons, Kelly Tripucka and Bill Laimbeer, were on the 1978-79 Notre Dame roster.  There seems to be Big Ten Conference mojo surrounding this tournament.  Let’s hope the MSU Spartans join the Elite 8 party on Friday night.
  • Wisconsin will be playing Arizona on Saturday night after #2 Arizona defeated #6 Xavier 68-60.  The game will be a rematch of last year’s Elite 8 game, in which #2 Wisconsin defeated #1 Arizona 64-63 in overtime.


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