Any grousing about how the Big East didn’t deserve three 1 seeds in the tournament is pretty much dead and buried at this point, isn’t it? Aside from the fact that the original argument relied exclusively on “because it just shouldn’t be that way” rather than “because Memphis/Duke/Oklahoma earned it more than UConn,” it’s been proven true throughout the tournament, and especially today.
During the early game, UConn held off the same unusually frisky Missouri team that ran Memphis right out of the gym. The final was 82-75, with freshman (eep!) Kemba Walker scoring 23 points on just nine shots from the field (EEP!) for UConn.
That game didn’t hold a candle, though, to one of the best Elite 8 games of all time, as Pitt and Villanova (both Big East, mind you) went toe-to-toe, using every single bit of their 40 minutes before Villanova prevailed, 78-76.
How close was this one? In the last 28 minutes of the game, the game was just within five points either way. Or, for a more visual idea of how tightly contested the matchup was, observe ESPN’s game flow graph:
That is one intense ballgame. But just looking at a couple lines doesn’t do the game justice; hell, it doesn’t even approach it. DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, and Sam Young made clutch play after clutch play for Pittsburgh, eventually combining for 58 of Pitt’s 76 points. But it wasn’t enough; though Pitt overcame ‘Nova’s early 10-point lead, the Wildcats always had an answer. Their final answer was Scottie Reynolds, above, driving and dropping in a short jumper at the last second. Fields’ desperation heave, had it even been allowed, had no chance from 60 feet, and Pitt went out.
Courtesy of BLACK SPORTS ONLINE, here’s the video of the finish:
Tomorrow features two regional finals between #1 and #2 seeds. Louisville and Michigan State are the early game, then the best individual matchup of the tournament thus far (Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansborough) headlines the late game between Oklahoma and North Carolina. Though both matchups look good, we can’t expect - only hope - that the drama in either game matches that of the titanic struggle between Pitt and Villanova tonight.