The SEC has put on a clinic in this tournament. Last night, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida pulled off impressive victories to move on to the Elite Eight Sunday. South Carolina dominated an overmatched Baylor team, De'Aaron Fox scored 39 to lead the Wildcats past UCLA and Florida won in overtime on a miraculous buzzer beating 3 by Chris Chiozza. It was a phenomenal night for the conference as the SEC is back in the thick of things in the college basketball landscape. I give a lot of credit to Commissioner Greg Sankey, and Mike Slive before him, who stressed getting SEC basketball back to relevance. And also, to the tremendous coaches in the SEC. Cal, Frank Martin and Mike White are 3 of the best in the country, though I did question White's late game management last night. North Carolina also advanced with a dominating performance over Butler. UNC-Kentucky @4:05 PM CT/5:05 PM ET will be a classic tomorrow on CBS. That follows Florida and South Carolina which tips off at 1:20 PM CT/2:20 PM ET on CBS tomorrow.
Last night: 3-1
Last night's scores
North Carolina 92, Butler 80
Never really a contest. Sets up a blockbuster Sunday with two of the IBM's of college basketball, the Tar Heels and the Wildcats.
South Carolina 70, Baylor 50
These Gamecocks are for real. Baylor was horrible. The most interesting part of the game, except if you're a South Carolina or an SEC fan, was Verne Lundquist's identifying a guy sitting close to Baylor Coach Scott Drew's father, Homer, the former coach at Valparaiso,, as "Bryce Drew, the head coach at Vanderbilt." It wasn't even close. It was some Baylor fan who was wearing Baylor gear. May have been a family member, but it wasn't Bryce Drew. Nice job Verne. I will kind of miss him on college football Saturdays. He brings good humor to the broadcasts with his frequent mistakes. Still have Gary, unfortunately.
Kentucky 86, UCLA 75
The De'Aaron Fox-Lonzo Ball showdown was no contest. Fox was superb and Ball was barely noticeable. De'Aaron said after the game that Ball would probably be the first pick in the NBA draft. I disagree. It should be Fox. He's much better than Ball. Fox is not only a terrific player, but he's also a terrific young guy. Malik Monk is not too bad either. He finished with 21 and sank a couple of 25 foot trifectas in a row. It was beautiful.
Florida 84, Wisconsin 83
Canyon Barry and Chris Chiozza brought the Gators back from 5 down with a minute and a half left in the overtime, after the Badgers had tied it with 2 seconds left in regulation on a Zak Showalter leaning 3. Barry scored on a layup and blocked a Nigel Hayes breakaway dunk. It was a magnificent play. Florida tied it at 81 on a Chiozza layup. After Hayes hit a pair of free throws to put the Badgers up 83-81. Florida, with no timeouts left and 4 seconds left on the clock, got it in Chiozza's hands who drove the length of the court leaned into a 3 with his feet behind the arc and swished it at the buzzer. It was remarkable. Gators- Gamecocks tomorrow followed by the Cats and the Heels. Should be an epic day.
Today's Elite 8 games
West Region Final
No.11 (seed) Xavier (24-13) vs. No.1 Gonzaga (35-1)
SAP Center, San Jose
5:09 PM CT/6:09 PM ET
Xavier was impressive in a 73-71 victory over Arizona Thursday Night. Gonzaga's 61-58 victory over West Virginia was even more impressive. Like these Zags. Their mental toughness and athleticism are second to none in this tournament. Don't know if they have the skilled talent to win it all, but they've got a shot. Like the Zags to get it done in San Jose, but not by much.
Gonzaga 72, Xavier 68
Midwest Region Final
No.3 Oregon (32-5) vs. No. 1 Kansas (31-4)
Sprint Center, Kansas City
7:49 PM CT/8:49 PM ET
Kansas looks unbeatable right now, but they haven't played the level of competition that Kentucky or Gonzaga has so far. And they are basically playing home games in this regional semis and now finals. They played in Tulsa last week and that's close to Lawrence, KS. as well. So they're not a guarantee in to win it all by any means. They face a pretty relentless defensive team in Oregon that can also score it pretty well at times. Like Kansas to win here and super freshman Josh Jackson and super senior Frank Mason III to have big games. But Oregon, with sophomore Tyler Dorsey and junior Dillon Brooks, are a tough out. I expect this to be close also.
Kansas 72, Oregon 70
South Carolina vs. Florida 1:20 PM CT/2:20 PM ET, CBS
Kentucky vs. UNC, 4:05 PM CT/5:05 PM ET, CBS
Previews and predictions in the AM