By Doug Halberstadt
A week ago, 68 men’s college basketball teams started out with dreams of winning a national championship. Now, the field has been whittled down to the “Sweet Sixteen,” and some perennial powerhouses are missing from that list — most notably Duke and Missouri. Both Duke and Missouri were No. 2 seeds entering the tournament.
No. 15 seed Lehigh upset Duke in the opening round, 75-70. Norfolk State, another No. 15 seed, made it out of the first round by edging heavily favored Missouri 86-84.
Both Lehigh and Norfolk State failed to advance past the second round. Norfolk State lost to No. 7 seed Florida 84-50, and No. 10 seed Xavier ousted Lehigh 70-58.
Both of the teams I suggested in this column last week that we as stateline fans should cheer for have made it to the “Sweet Sixteen” and play games tomorrow (Thursday, March 22). The No. 4 seed Wisconsin Badgers won their first two games. They dumped Montana in the opening round 73-49 and then squeaked by Vanderbilt in a much closer contest, 70-67, in the second round.
The Badgers are set to face the Syracuse Orangemen, the No. 1 seed in the East, when tournament action resumes. The Orangemen downed UNC-Asheville 72-65 in the first round and followed that up with a 75-59 win over Kansas State in the second round.
The Marquette Golden Eagles will be trying to make it to the “Elite Eight” when they take on the No. 7 seed Florida Gators. Marquette marched their way into the “Sweet Sixteen” with a big 20-point opening-round win over No. 14 seed BYU, and they got by No. 6 seed Murray State 62-53 in the second round. Florida had an opening-round win over No. 10 seed Virginia, 71-45.
Game times for both Wisconsin and Marquette were yet to be determined at press time. The Badgers’ game is in Boston while the Golden Eagles will play in Phoenix.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the March 21-27, 2012, issue