Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region. If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Region (Andrew Murawa)
- Usually in college basketball, when you say a team is going home, you mean they just lost and their season is over. For Butler, there are no such problems; they just upset Kansas State in Salt Lake City and are headed back to Indianapolis, the site of this year’s Final Four, to compete in their first National Semifinal just a few miles from their campus.
- How did they do it? The easy answer is defense, mostly controlling KSU’s explosive backdoor pair of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen and, rather surprisingly, getting the best of the Wildcats on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 41-29, an astounding number for the smaller, less athletic team.
- The Bulldog win was a complete team effort, with stars like Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward having their usual strong performances, role-players like Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley adding their gritty play, but also players like little-used freshman center Andrew Smith giving head coach Brad Stevens quite a few strong minutes in the wake of Matt Howard’s foul trouble.
- Andy Katz writes that despite Kentucky’s presumed coronation coming up a few games short in Syracuse tonight, the Cats are back, and the health of the UK program is an overall good thing for college basketball in general.
- Mike Freeman skewers Kentucky for whining and complaining to the refs in most of this game and refusing to give West Virginia responsibility for winning the game. Interesting stat that Bob Huggins is now 8-1 against John Calipari in head-to-head matchups.
- West Virginia’s Wellington Smith stated after the Mountaineers defeated Kentucky that they were looking at that as the ‘national championship game’ and had no trouble claiming that WVU should be the resounding favorite in next week’s Final Four.
- The great game that WVU’s Joe Mazzulla put forth in the regional finals today may have bought enough time for his teammate Truck Bryant to get healthy. He says that he’s 90% sure that he’ll be able to play in the Final Four next weekend.