La Salle Explorers vs. Ole Miss Rebels
Since the NCAA Tournament field was expanded to 68 only the 2011 VCU Rams, and now, the 2013 La Salle Explorers have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. And yet, both teams have brought an exciting brand of basketball to the forefront. In La Salle’s case, the guard heavy team often employs several small ball lineups, contradictory to the traditional line-ups put forth by most college programs. Unlike the rest of the field, La Salle played three games in five days. First, beating Boise State to get into the tournament, then edging Kansas State after blowing a 20-point lead in the second half, and finally, going basket for basket with Ole Miss, punctuated by a game finishing layup by Tyrone Garland, after he had already been blocked several times during the contest.
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown Hoyas
The 15th seeded Florida Gulf Coast beat San Diego State to punch their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen, but the team’s mark would reside in their trouncing of number two seed Georgetown. The first thing that comes to mind when you see this team play is, “wow, they’re really athletic for a team with no premier players.” And that’s not an understatement. The college has only been accepting students for 16 years. In college basketball, team unity can often overcome the lack of individual skill, but don’t let that prevailing thought deter what your eyes see. This team is extremely athletic and works at a breakneck pace. And if you’ve seen the highlights, you know why they nicknamed themselves “Dunk City.” They now, somewhat ironically, face the more popular Florida Gators in the Sweet Sixteen.
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Wichita St. Shockers
Few believed Gonzaga was deserving of a number one seed due to the competition they faced during their regular season, but those detractors now sit with a smart smirk of their face. Calm down guys, I’m sure there are a few other bracket busters that have ruined your predictions. The Shockers did just that however, upsetting the Bulldogs and knocking out the first number one seed of the tourney. You were almost cheering for the Shockers just because they took down someone so heavily favoured, because that’s what March Madness is all about, after all.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Temple Owls
If you tuned into this one late, you might have thought you were witnessing the second number one seed falling to their fate. The Hoosiers battled back with a great defensive effort, and knocked out the Temple Owls who had built up a sizeable lead backed by 31 points by Temple’s Khalif Wyatt. This was the kind of win that makes you feel like the Hoosiers can go the distance, as they didn’t look at all like themselves for the first 20 minutes. Gutting out a win under the harshest circumstances should make you fear them when they’re running on all cylinders.
Michigan Wolverines vs. VCU Rams
Don’t let the final score fool you, this one was a close contest until there were about five or six minutes remaining in the second half. There was always an overwhelming feeling of VCU still being in the game, but they never quite caught up. What was most impressive about this game was seeing the full potential of Michigan on display, and how their guards handled Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” defense. Quite frankly, Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. lit them up. And after seeing that performance, a Final Four berth, and even a national championship, is not out of the question.