Tonight was fucking crazy. No one could defend a lead. I hope you were watching, "friends".
Florida beat Butler, but only after Butler put the fear of God into them in the first half. This would have been the upset of the tournament, obviously, and even when Butler jumped out to a big lead, you had to assume that sooner or later Florida would remember to guard perimeter jump shots, and then bang down low on offense. Which is exactly what they did. Feral Steve Nash had a rough first half, but played pretty well in the second. If Butler could make lay-ups like they hit from 15 feet out, they may have won this game. I don't mind saying that it really seemed that the officiating, while not biased exactly, was predisposed to call fouls on Butler.
Georgetown gets a last second hoop to beat Vanderbilt. As a Hoya fan (and as someone who has them in the Final Game in every single of my brackets) I was forced to watch the above game, with the ticker at the top of my screen showing Vandy jumping out to a huge lead (13 points?) on Georgetown. It was scary. Georgetown, on my ticker, came back, and I did get to watch the final 5 minutes or so, after Roy "Dr. " Hibbert had fouled out. Note to DeJuan Summers: under a minute, with a one point lead--don't give up the lose ball foul on a fucking rebound, especially when your team is in the double-bonus. Jesus Christ! Jeff Green pulled it out, though Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis seem to think he traveled. But Billy Packer didn't think he did. Since he was there, courtside, and because Billy Packer is A Brilliant Man With Well Thought-Out Ideas, I'll defer to his judgement. In all seriousness, you can't call the travel, if you aren't going to count all the ways Green got fouled in the final seconds.
The Ducks of Oregon defeated UNLV, but not after they let the Runnin' Rebels back in the game. The Ducks had this thing iced, won, Greg Gumbel taking you to the other game over. They were up 17 points with less than 6 minutes to play. And then they let UNLV back in the game. UNLV has plenty of guys who can knock down shots from range if left open, like Coach's Son Archetype Kevin Kruger, or Darger, or any other number of guys. If the Ducks make it to the Final Four (they only have to knock off Florida to do so) steel yourself for lots of feel-good stories about 5' 6" Shooter Without a Conscience Tajuan Porter. No one wanted him, except Ernie Kent. On the whole, I find that story lacking compared to, say, Mike Bibby's "My Mom is My Best Friend, and The Only Thing My Daddy Gave Was a Name" Arizona Final Four. But in a tournament lacking a whole lot of upsets (lowest seed in the Elite 8? #3 Oregon) it will have to do. Which brings us to the most disappointing loss of the night.
USC gave the game to UNC tonight. When you lose via an 18-0 run, you gave the game away. I don't care about foul trouble for your phenom freshman. I don't care about shots suddenly not going down the way they were in the first half. 18-0 run. There is no excuse for that. And yeah, Tim Floyd, I agree with you, the foul away from the ball when there seemed to be an equally obvious reach in foul on the ball was bullshit. But you don't draw a technical in the last minute of a game in which you are down four points. Your team was falling apart, and you pulled out the keystone, you stupid fuck.
Man, over the last 2 days, we were almost treated to one of the craziest Elite 8's since, I don't know, last year. As it stands now, though, the only people who are regretting picking strictly by seeding are the folks who had Wisconsin in the Elite 8. Otherwise, it is 1 vs 2 across the board. And hell, even people in Wisconsin didn't have Wisconsin in the Elite 8. Brian Butch was important, apparently. But we were so close to an Elite 8 with Vanderbilt, Butler, UNLV, SIU, USC, and Tennessee. Maybe some bored alternative history author will take a stab at what that Elite 8 would have been like.
But the beauty is that any of these teams could beat the other. There are no obvious underdogs to root for, sure, but unlike last year's brain popping George Mason run, it isn't at all hard to imagine that Oregon might beat Florida, or Georgetown UNC, or UCLA Kansas, or Memphis Ohio State. We could still end up with a Final Four with no #1 seeds. No one is safe. I'll attempt to preview tomorrow's games shortly.