March Madness returned last night, kicking things back up with some Sweet Sixteen action. And, following the ebb and flow of this year’s tournament, nothing expected happened.
Syracuse manhandled Indiana.
Really just manhandled. This game was never particularly close, with Syracuse holding a 12-point halftime lead at 34-22 and never giving ground. By the time it was all said and done, Syracuse had won 61-50 and found themselves preparing for an Elite 8 game later this weekend.
But besides Michael Carter-Williams’ spectacular play for Syracuse, besides a 2-3 zone defense that completely took Indiana out of everything it wanted to do offensively, there was something else, something more troubling. Cody Zeller – a preseason favorite for National Player of the Year – couldn’t get going. But this wasn’t just one of those off nights, a few misses on some open looks. He got dominated. There’s a lot of trepidation among NBA folk that his inferior athleticism will hurt him at the next level, and we saw glimpses of that against Syracuse. He couldn’t elevate up over defenders, and his shots were constantly blocked or altered enough to force misses. He generally looked like he couldn’t match up. Then again, it’s always hard to pinpoint the future in college, but any and all indicators from this game were not so positive.
Marquette dismantled Miami.
Isn’t it weird that Marquette is in the Elite 8 right now? After somehow squeezing past Davidson with some miraculous, late-game three-pointers and a game-winning layup, after barely edging out Butler in the Round of 32, here was Marquette, ready to face it’s first “real” opponent, if you will. And they responded, finally. Miami, meanwhile, well nobody’s really sure what happened. They had good looks at the basket, both from deep and in close. But when your team shoots 34.9% overall from the field, including 11-35 from three of your starters, things probably aren’t going to go too well. And they didn’t, as Miami lost 71-61.
Oh, and fun fact: the last time Marquette was in the Elite 8 was with Dwyane Wade and Steve Novak (!) in 2003, led by none other than losing Sweet Sixteen coach Tom Crean. Small world, or something.