The way things have been breaking
of late, the
If Coach Jim Calhoun's team keeps it up, there
are going to be a lot of bald citizens in
On a Friday night – and early Saturday morning -- when the Huskies committed 26 turnovers and trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, they were able to pull out a 98-92 victory in overtime over a group of Huskies (from the University of Washington) in Washington, D.C. who were, for the most part, a lot scrappier and focused than they were.
But that doesn't seem to take much these days.
It was Williams, with some significant assistance from Rashad Anderson, who kept The Most Talented Team In The Country (anything said so frequently should be capitalized) from losing to the runner-up team from the Pacific 10 Conference in overtime.
Williams fed Anderson for a 3-pointer, converted a three-point play (layup and free throw) and then handed off to Anderson – who evaded defender Ryan Appleby just long enough to hit another 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to send the thing into overtime.
With a trip to
An opportunity to win the program's third national title beckons them to Indy, assuming they produce something close to 40 minutes of solid basketball Sunday.
Williams, who also came up with a game-clinching interception in the closing seconds, scored 26 points to go with eight assists, four rebounds and seven turnovers. He has been enough to keep the Huskies surviving and advancing through three rounds of the tournament, despite the team turning in something less than a full game's worth of anything approaching the caliber of play expected out of a squad coached by a Hall of Famer and having the kind of talent most other college coaches can only fantasize about possessing.
And, if Connecticut can win three more games without a noticeable increase in passion (although those on the bench were as lively as has been seen all season when Anderson sent the game into OT) and by continuing to play the kind of defense that would make the members of Calhoun's 1999 and 2004 title teams blush, it will probably mean that Williams has continued play at the same level that has carried his team thus far since it opened tourney competition on March 17.
It may also mean that there are
going to be a whole lot of
The Huskies weren't the only folks
from the Big East Conference who needed an extra five minutes to keep their
Villanova was the first of three Big East members in action Friday night – and its players seemed in real danger of facing the prospects of an unencumbered Saturday and Sunday on their hands when the Boston College Eagles zapped them to the tune of 9-0 and 25-9 advantages.
And the Wildcats' former Big East buddies (relocated to the Atlantic Coast Conference this season) seemed more than capable of doing what they set out to do – cut down Villanova's transition game, make the Wildcats play half-court defenses for long periods of time and punch the ball inside as much as possible while limiting the clean looks Villanova's jump shooters got at the rim.
And they did all of those things, although Randy Foye's scoring ability, including his jump shooting, eventually helped the Wildcats creep back into contention.
Ultimately, though, Villanova's pressure defense wreaked enough havoc and guards Foye and Kyle Lowry, especially, created enough offense.
A breakdown on an under-the-basket, out of bounds situation, with 3.5 seconds to go, led to a pass from Lowry to a cutting William Sheridan (who was uncovered when two defenders chased Ray) for a shot that was goal-tended by the Eagles' Sean Williams.
And the Eagles were on their way to a Sunday showdown with Florida, which prevented a "true" Big East matchup a couple of hours later by edging Georgetown, 57-53, thanks to a three-point play by sophomore Corey Brewer with 13.3 seconds to play and a couple of insurance free throws by classmate Al Horford seven seconds later.
Yes, in case you missed it, it was
another solid night of Sweet 16 chills and thrills, some 24 hours after stunners
And, for the second consecutive
evening, there was rather one-sided affair. Thursday it was
It bears repeating: There is nothing "flukey" about the way the George Mason Patriots have reeled int their program's first three-ever NCAA Tournament victories (over Michigan State, North Carolina and a Wichita State team that beat Seton Hall and Tennessee to get to the District of Columbia).
They play with nearly 40 minutes of energy and focus on both ends of the floor and truly seem to be savoring every moment of their tournament run.
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 Press-Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com.