The Sports Section

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Final Four

South: Top Seed Kansas Falls to Villanova

A #1 seed falling to a #2 isn’t usually much of an upset, but when the team that most “experts” were picking to win the national championship loses, it’s an upset no matter who they face. In most circles Kansas was, hands down, the top seed heading into the NCAA Tournament, but #2 Nova took the Jayhawks out of their comfort zone and capitalized on key opportunities to secure the 64-59 upset victory.

The Jayhawks turned the ball over 16 times in the game, four above their season average. The Wildcats were able to convert those turnovers into 13 points in the win, and tied a school record for season victories set by last season’s team.

The Wildcats knocked the last of our Florida teams from the tournament convincingly when they crushed #3 Miami 92-69 on Thursday night. Nova never trailed in the contest, even though the Hurricanes were able to keep it close at half time, only trailing by 6 at the break. That was as close as Miami would get as the Wildcats turned in their best shooting performance of the tournament (62.7%) in the rout. Villanova will face another #2 seed, Oklahoma, in Houston on Sunday.

West: Overrated Oregon Falls to Oklahoma

After advancing to the Elite 8 by cruising by Texas A&M, Oklahoma was able to hold off (1) Oregon to move into the Final Four. This was one of those cases where it wasn’t surprising that #2 defeated a #1 seed. Oregon was the lowest of the #1 seeds to be selected and many, including myself, thought that there were other teams more deserving of the ranking. That being said, for the most part Oregon did live up to the lofty seeding by winning their way through some tough competition, including an 82-68 victory over Duke to advance to the Elite Eight.

(2) Oklahoma came ready to play when they went up against the Ducks. Buddy Hield of the Sooners hit eight 3-pointers and scored 37 points to help his Sooners advance to its first Final Four since 2002 by winning the West Region final of the tourney.

(2) Villanova vs. (2) Oklahoma on Saturday at 6:09pm ET on TBS

Midwest: #10 Seed Syracuse Stuns #1 Virginia

The top seed out of the Midwest bracket, Virginia was cruising past the competition and after dominating 4th seeded Iowa St., they were the favorite to go to the Final Four. All that stood in their way was either an 11 or 10 seed in the Elite Eight. 11 seed Gonzaga even seemed to be the favorite as they went up against the higher (not much) 10 seed Syracuse. After the Orange crushed each of their first two opponents by over 20 points and rallied past Gonzaga leading up to their Elite Eight matchup with the Cavaliers, no one would consider them an underdog.

It wasn’t really their tournament games, however, that had people underestimating them. Syracuse staggered into the tournament. They weren’t in the national rankings, dropping their first four ACC games, and losing 5 of 6 to end their season. However, they still found themselves in the Elite 8 after a late rally over the Zags. No one expected them to go to the Final Four; but here they are. The Orange became the first 10 seed to make it to the Final Four and just the fourth double-digit seed to get there.

Things don’t get any easier for the “Cinderella kids,” as they face ACC foe #1 seed North Carolina on Saturday. Syracuse lost both of their games against the Tarheels this season, but they also lost to the Cavaliers during the season. Could they be the first 10 seed to defeat two #1 seeds in one tournament?

East: North Carolina Only #1 Remaining

North Carolina was probably hoping that their Final Four opponent was from Indiana. After easily handling the Hoosiers, next up was another Indiana school: The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. In the first half, the Irish went shot for shot with the Tarheels, and as both teams shot over 58% it looked like it might be a tight contest. Although neither team led by more than 6 in the first half, the second half was much different. Instead of shot for shot, it was run for run, and after UNC took control of the boards in the final 10 minutes, the Tarheels last and biggest run was more than ND could overcome. UNC defeated ND 74-88, and are now the only 1 seed in the Final Four.

(10) Syracuse vs. (1) North Carolina on Saturday at 8:49 on TBS

Play Ball!

Spring training has come to an end and the regular season starts Sunday afternoon with the Pirates and Cardinals at 1pm and the Rays and Blue Jays at 4pm. MLB’s Opening Day is capped off with a World Series rematch between the Mets and Royals at 8:30pm ET on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

NASCAR: After a week off the NASCAR season will resume with the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday at 1:13pm on FS1

 

Mike Yost

 

NASCAR SPRINT CUP

  1. Kevin Harvick (4) 195
  2. Jimmie Johnson (48) 184
  3. Carl Edwards (19) 171
  4. Denny Hamlin (11) 170
  5. Kyle Busch (18) 170
  6. Joey Logano (22) 165
  7. Kurt Busch (41) 148
  8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) 145
  9. Brad Keselowski (2) 142
  10. Austin Dillon (3) 139