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Things You May Have Missed: Down to the Wire on Day 1 of the Elite Eight

Patrick Crawley, Dave Dulberg, Devin Altschul |
March 26, 2011 | 11:10 p.m. PDT

Butler staged yet another upset Saturday. (Jessica Benson)
Butler staged yet another upset Saturday. (Jessica Benson)
After an exhilarating upset of No. 1 Ohio State by Kentucky, Friday's NCAA action was difficult to top.

Saturday's games were even better though. Butler-Florida was a back-and-forth slugfest, and UConn-Arizona went down to the wire. Neither game was decided by more than three points. Just another day of March Madness...

Neon Tommy breaks down the first games of the Elite Eight:

Opening thoughts

Jared Sullinger is crazy. Passing up a top 3 spot in the draft to return to Ohio State is the college basketball equivalent of picking Amy Adams over Blake Lively. Yeah, both options are attractive, but one is overwhelmingly more appealing -- and I mean way more appealing.

What's Sullinger going to do in his sophomore season at OSU? Extend his range? Cut his weight to 275? Reminisce about the days of David Lighty and Jon Diebler (both of whom are graduating)? It doesn't make any sense. I know he has this whole "I'm staying, I'm a man of my word" mantra going on, but he should seriously reconsider his decision.

- Patrick Crawley

Butler 74, Florida 71 (OT)

I can't believe Florida held the ball for so long the possession before overtime. Why not drive to the basket and try to get fouled? The shot almost went in, but almost doesn't count. That possession came back to haunt the Gators, and they should have learned their lesson. But in overtime they did the same thing. Why take such a long and off balanced three? Give the ball to the guys inside who got you this far. Kenny Boynton is good, but I don't think that was the shot that they were looking for.

- Devin Altschul

Here’s some “Hoosier State” perspective on the Bulldogs’ improbable ride: Since the 2002-03 season, in-state rival Indiana has appeared in just seven NCAA tournament games. With Saturday’s win over Florida, Butler has played 10 tournament games in the last two years alone.

- Dave Dulberg

Shelvin Mack is the man. Everyone thought Butler would be out of championship contention when Gordon Hayward left for the NBA, yet here they are in the Final Four again. Mack's a big reason why. He's raised his Tournament scoring average from 15.3 points per game in 2009-10 to 21.3 through four games this year, including a game-high 27 in the win over Florida. He's not the most talented player around, but his confidence is off the charts. Without him Butler would've been dead long ago.

- Crawley

Is it just me or does Butler coach Brad Stevens (right) look like Joe Mauer with glasses and a better postseason pedigree? Just saying.

- Dulberg

Brad Stevens is about to get paid. Two Final Four appearances in two years? That's the kind of run big programs pay top dollar for.  

- Crawley

UConn 65, Arizona 63

Just in case you’re a fan of recycled stories, CBS broadcaster Bill Raftery made sure to remind anyone within earshot during the Arizona-UConn game that he was the voice behind the infamous call of “SEND IT IN JEROME!” The problem? We all heard about it during the U of A- Duke game on Thursday. Look, we get it. Wildcats coach Sean Miller was responsible for the assist that led to your once-in-a career call. But seriously, Billy, it happened 23 years ago. Time to move on. We have.

- Dulberg

Kemba Walker cannot be denied. Even a prolonged cold stretch in the second half couldn't phase him. He's like Starbucks. He still got venti. (That's 20 in Italian, right? Okay, good.) It was Kemba's 18th consecutive game scoring in double digits and his third straight scoring 20+. Like Liam Neeson in Taken, he's a man on a mission. Only two games stand between him and college basketball immortality. I'm not saying he's going to get it, but I'm definitely not betting against him.

- Crawley

There are very few people (Cher, Madonna, Bono) who can hold their weight with just one name.

But after his dancing display the other night in Arizona win over Duke, I guess you can add Wildcats’ center Kyryl Natyazhko to the pantheon of one-namers thanks to Verne Lundquist. I know a surname with six consonants can be tricky, but if the name fits on the back of a jersey it should be able to fit into a TV broadcast.

- Dulberg

Speaking of first names, what's the best one left in the tournament? UConn guard Shabazz Napier or VCU coach Shaka Smart? Okay, it's a push. Both names are pretty bad ass.

- Dulberg

Jim Calhoun could really benefit from a Final Four wardrobe change. Maybe something in the Mike Brey/Don Nelson mock turtleneck mold. No one looks more disheveled in a shirt and tie than the Huskies’ coach. 

- Dulberg


Check back tomorrow for more Elite Eight coverage.



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