It’s Miller Time for March Madness
Quick! When was the last time that a pair of brothers coached in the same Elite Eight NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? The answer is, never. But Archie and Sean Miller, head coaches of the Dayton Flyers and Arizona Wildcats respectively, will pull off that feat this year. Dayton flew past another lower-ranked seed, with the #11 Flyers beating #10 Stanford 82 – 72 this past Thursday. Sean is the senior of the two brothers, and he piloted his #1 seed Arizona Wildcats to a 70 – 64 victory versus an SDSU team that kept hanging around the entire game. Dayton has joined the Elite Eight for the first time in 30 years, behind depth balance and defense. Four players scored in double figures against Stanford, with eleven Flyers scoring altogether.
Thursday is a Day For the Favorites
Aside from the mild upset that Dayton pulled off Thursday, lower seeded teams had their way with the underdogs they played. #1 Florida in the South didn’t have much trouble with #4 UCLA, sending the Bruins back home across the country with a 79 to 68 victory. #1 Arizona in the West defeated #4 San Diego State as referenced above, in a game which included a ridiculous one-handed highlight dunk by the high-flying Aaron Gordon. And favored #2 Wisconsin easily handled #6 Baylor 69 – 52, for the largest point margin victory in Sweet Sixteen action. San Diego State held tight against Zona, and the Aztecs got 25 points from Xavier Thames. But the Wildcats’ Nick Johnson had a good all-around game after a poor first half, contributing 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in the victory. Look for Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Arizona’s Johnson as key players in the upcoming Elite Eight showdown for those two teams.
3 of 4 Friday Underdogs Advance Friday as Bracket Busters Abound
Including the slight upset Dayton pulled off, a full half of the underdogs in this year’s March Madness Sweet 16 field have advanced. With absolutely no regard to their seeding, Michigan State, Kentucky and UCONN all beat lower seeded opponents on Friday. And #2 Michigan needed every tick of the clock Friday to get past a determined #11 Tennessee squad. The Vols got 24 points and 6 rebounds from Jordan McRae, but it wasn’t enough, as the Wolverines survived a scare and advanced to the Elite Eight. Michigan has won 10 of its last 11 games. #4 seed Michigan State crushed the hopes of #1 Virginia 61 – 59, the #8 seed University of Kentucky beat in-state rival and favorite #4 Louisville and Rick Pitino 74 – 69, and the #7 UCONN Huskies kept the upset train going Friday, with an 81 – 76 victory over #3 Iowa State.
Regional Finals Set for Elite Eight Action March 29, 30
In the South, #1 Florida has a dream matchup on paper. The Gators are playing very well right now, and take on a Cinderella-like #11 Dayton team which everyone keeps waiting on to lose. But the Flyers have defeated #6 Ohio State, #3 Syracuse and #10 Stanford so far, so who’s to say they can’t hand Florida a devastating loss? In the West, #1 Arizona and #2 Wisconsin go head-to-head in what promises to be an outstanding and memorable contest. The upset for #8 Kentucky rewarded that team with #2 Michigan in the Midwest, and the Eastern final shows #4 Michigan State taking on #7 Connecticut. Vegas odds on Elite Eight teams show Dayton as a big money line and point spread underdog, and if fate keeps those Cinderellas dancing, a brave gamble on the boys from Dayton, Ohio could return a nice payday.
Grading the NCAA Selection Committee’s Seeding – C+
With two #1s and two #2s in the final eight teams of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament, the selection committee has to be happy with their choices. But there are also #7, #8 and #11 teams that have made it this far. And every college basketball fan and sports enthusiast who does not have a dog remaining in the hunt would love to see Dayton upset Billy Donovan and the Gators. Florida has made it to four straight Elite Eight rounds. In what is generally known as the best football conference in the country, the SEC has definitely made a statement in this year’s March Madness tournament. An all-SEC National Championship Game is not out of the realm of possibilities. Play continues March 29 and 30 as the field gets trimmed for Final Four action on April 5, with the finals matchup scheduled for April 7.