NCAA tournament: 'Sweet 16' winds up sour for some

The Sweet 16 round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament started Thursday night, with Ohio State, Marquette, Wichita State and Syracuse advancing to the weekend Elite 8.

Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS
Miami Hurricanes forward/center Julian Gamble (l.) sits on the bench with teammates during the second half against the Marquette Golden Eagles in their East Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Washington, March 28, 2013.

Miami Hurricanes 'Buzz'-sawed by Marquette

The second-seeded Miami Hurricanes escaped the third round of the NCAA tournament’s East Region by holding off the arguably more aggressive, if not more talented, Illini of Illinois. That turned out to be prescient, as the ACC conference champions hit the wall against a more energized and tenacious three-seed Marquette Golden Eagles squad, losing 71-61 in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C.

The Hurricanes were more like a tropical depression, running into Marquette head coach Buzz Williams’ buzz saw of a defense, turning the ball over repeatedly and missing numerous second-chance points. By the end of the first half, Miami had scored only 16 points on 6-of-29 shooting (22%). Marquette stuck to the Hurricanes’ players like fly paper all night, holding Miami to only 35% shooting from the floor, and 30% (8-of-26) from beyond the arc. Only a 45-point run by Miami in the second half, complete with some timely threes near the game’s conclusion kept it from being a total blow-out. Marquette now advances to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003.

Syracuse “In the Zone” in Victory Over Indiana

Many brackets – including President Obama’s – were busted last night when the East region’s No. 1-seeded Indiana Hoosiers were unceremoniously ousted from the tournament by the fourth seed Syracuse Orange, 61-50. Syracuse specializes in an often devastatingly effective 2-3 zone defense that can be as confounding as a Rubik’s Cube to those teams who have limited experience against it. And against Indiana, which was a scoring juggernaut during the regular season, the Hoosiers limped along to their lowest score of the year in a humbling exhibition at Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center.

Syracuse’s defense keyed on three-point specialist Jordan Hulls, holding him to 0-of-12 shooting from the field, with two turnovers. His partner in the back court, Yogi Ferrell, was also held scoreless while turning the ball over four times. Overall, the Hoosiers turned the ball over 19 times and were only 3 for 15 (20%) from behind the three-point arc. The Orange countered with 12 steals and 10 blocked shots, which practically guaranteed that Indiana, who never led and at one point trailed by 18 points, would not be victorious this night.

Ohio State Turns In Yet Another Thriller To Outlast Arizona

Ohio State fans must have steel-plated nerves after last night. The West region’s second-seeded Buckeyes have turned in two final-second victories within a week’s time. But nonetheless, they once again will advance to the Elite 8 with a 73-70 victory over the sixth-seed Arizona Wildcats Thursday night in Los Angeles. Aaron Craft’s three-pointer last weekend against Iowa State was matched this time by LaQuinton Ross’ triple off the bench.

But the game was not without controversy. With Ross’ shot sailing through the nylon with only two seconds remaining in the game, the referees huddled for a few minutes to see just how much time was actually left on the clock. Arizona, who had no time-outs remaining, in effect got an extra one – causing Ohio State’s coach Thad Matta no small amount of chagrin. Matta said that he purposely retained one time out because he knew the Wildcats were out of them. But it all proved to be a moot point since Arizona’s three-quarter “touchdown” pass sailed harmlessly into the Ohio State defense. Ohio State now meets the “Wheat Shockers” of Wichita State University, who defeated 13th -seeded La Salle University late Thursday night, 72-58.

[Editor's note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the NCAA men's basketball tournament region that Indiana University was competing in.]

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