Kansas and Michigan State were the latest teams to meet the one-and-out treatment in upsetting fashion as NCAA Tournament play continued Friday night. And Connecticut needed a late spurt to avoid what would have been the biggest upset of them all.
The upsets continued (welcome
aboard No. 13 seed Bradley and No. 11 seed George Mason; adios, No. 4 Kansas and No. 6 Michigan State) and the Big East
Conference members made it 5-for-5 Friday evening.
And, while the Atlantic Coast
Conference reps swept the remainder of their first-round games, Connecticut and
North Carolina barely survived the upset bug that fully
infected the Jayhawks and Spartans Friday evening after having made a victim of
another 3 seed (Iowa) earlier in
So went, in part, the evening
portion of Day II of the NCAA Tournament.
There will be post-tournament exit
gnashing of teeth in Lawrence,
Kansas, for the second spring in a row after
Kansas' trek to the Final Four –
projected by more than just a few national pundits – was brought to an abrupt
halt by the Bradley Braves (77-73).
State (22-12) wrapped up the "Most
Disappointing Team of the Season" hardware after its 75-65 loss to George Mason,
which was its 10th defeat over its final 20 games.
The Spartans returned four starters
from a Final Four team but opened the season with a loss at the
Hawaii. Tthat was a pretty good clue
right there that something was wrong.
(72-59 over Albany) and
Pittsburgh (79-64 over
State) won their evening games to
give the Big East Conference a 5-0 record on the day.
The Huskies' victory was anything
but of the yawner variety, however, as Jim Calhoun's team found itself
trailing by 12 points with a little more than 11 minutes to play.
Visions of writing about one of the
sport's greatest upsets – 16 seeds were 0-87 vs. 1 seeds coming into that game –
danced in reporters' heads before Marcus
Williams sparked a 34-9 run the rest of the way to propel the Huskies
into a second-round game with
Kentucky Sunday in
The Huskies might yet end up as
national champions on April 3 but they're certainly not following a dull path
along the way.
was a lot more definitive during its victory in Auburn Hills to earn a Sunday
game against Bradley, the at-large selection from the Missouri Valley
And the Braves gave an even more
impressive illustration than did another at-large team from its conference
State, during its 86-66 win over Seton Hall Thursday) as to why the MVC
was among the strongest conferences in the country this season and more than
worthy of its four spots in the tournament field.
Carolina (which will play George Mason Sunday in
Dayton) found itself tied with
State with a little less than a
minute to play.
But, after a timeout by Roy Williams, the Tar Heels went
exactly where you would expect they'd go and freshman center Tyler
Hansbrough delivered with the go-ahead jump hook from the right side
with 43 seconds remaining in what ended as a 69-65 victory for the Tar
Bennerman hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with less than a minute to
play as North Carolina
State, which came into the tournament
on a four-game losing streak, eventually knocked off 7 seed
Cal, 58-52, in
Sunday, Herb Sendek's team will take on the
Atlanta region's 2 seed,
Texas. And, if the Longhorns'
less-than-overwhelming performance in edging Ivy League champion Penn, 60-52, is
a barometer, the Wolfpack have a reasonable opportunity of returning to the
Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.
On a night when
Kentucky was able to hit just 31
percent from the field, it didn't take long to declare who the key player was
for the Wildcats' during their 69-64 victory over UAB in
Perry scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Tubby Smith's team.
And the Wildcats, if they are going
to upset what will no doubt be a much more motivated
Connecticut club Sunday, will need
several performances like that in order to earn a trip to
D.C., for regional play next
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at
email@example.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at