NCAA Tournament: It's down to the Sweet 16, with some new faces

The NCAA Tournament has reached the round of 16 and there are some teams who are new to this whole affair.

Chuck Burton/AP
Washington guard Isaiah Thomas (2) heads to the hoop as North Carolina forward John Henson (31) defends in the second half of an East Regional NCAA tournament third-round college basketball game, Sunday, March 20, in Charlotte, N.C.

It was a wild first four days and nights of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

From 13th seed Morehead State upsetting in-state big brother Louisville last Thursday to Duke's hanging on to edge Michigan Sunday, this tournament's has had a little bit of everything so far.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Virginia Commonwealth, winners of three tournament games, including a play-in game last Wednesday. The Rams then proceeded to beat Georgetown and third-seeded Purdue in Chicago. They, along with Richmond, their neighbors in Virginia's capital city, will advance to the Southwest Region's semifinals on Friday night.

Twos are wild in the Sweet 16 when it comes to conference teams. There's BYU and San Diego State from the Mountain West, UConn and Marquette left from 11 Big East teams that started, SEC contenders Kentucky and Florida, and Big 10 powers Ohio State and Wisconsin. The ACC has three teams still dancing in Duke, North Carolina and another surprise - Florida State.

Two of the wackier endings in the early going came on the weekend. Butler and top seed Pittsburgh were locked up in a tight finish on Saturday when late fouls and foul shots became the name of the game. The Bulldogs made theirs, the Panthers didn't, and now Butler is headed to its second consecutive Sweet 16.

They're still talking about the finish to the Arizona-Texas contest Sunday, where it came down to when do you call a timeout trying to inbound the ball. The Longhorns didn't get the timeout called in time, the Wildcats scored on the ensuing possession and 'Zona is headed to the West Region semis Thursday night.

Along with fellow region top seeds Duke and Ohio State, Kansas got a stern test from Illinois Sunday night. But the Jayhawks twin threats, Marcus and Markieff Morris, dominated the Illini in the paint and moved on to the tournament's second week.

With fresh faces in VCU and San Diego State, the Sweet 16 should be a fun basketball bash to watch.

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