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Bloody Sunday: And then there were two.

Hope you at least got to sing Varsity, Brad.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Saturday, March 19

[11] Michigan Wolverines 76, [3] Tennessee Volunteers 68

RU in VA: This is bullshit.

Sunday, March 20

[5] Houston Cougars 68, [4] Illinois Fighting Illini 53

thumpasaurus: I have never wavered from my belief that Illinois was not going to the sweet sixteen. For one, 14 years of watching illini hoops without it happening has trained me to believe that sweet 16s are things that are exclusively for fans of other teams and just not a part of the illini fan experience.

Moreover though, Illinois had a massive flaw that made pulling away and dominating a game very difficult for most of the season.


Don’t come in here and single out Andre Curbelo, because we were turning it over a ton while he was out with his injury and also he sat the whole second half today. Whether it was him trying to do too much, him or Trent throwing ill advised no-looks, Kofi dropping the ball on a post feed, Coleman Hawkins forgetting that he’s playing basketball every now and then or the white knuckle thrill ride that is Da’Monte Williams trying to inbound the ball, the other team was never out of it. It’s hard to go on extended runs when you turn it over so often. It really was a team problem.

Adding to my fears was the 5 seed Houston, which is now KenPom #2. Of course, to win a national title you have to beat a top 5 team at some point, but I thought Illinois could at least get to the second weekend before facing one. But alas.

Houston made Illinois work awfully hard to find open shots, blanketing Plummer in the first half and trapping Illinois in the corner often in the second. Illinois turned it over on seven different inbound plays.

By the last ten minutes of the game, the Illini were too gassed to keep Jamal Shead out of the lane and he made floater after floater. Illinois nearly took the lead at several points in the second half by playing shrewd defense, but then a turnover would rob them of the opportunity.

It hurts to lose to a certified member of the Illini Rogues Gallery, but the selection committee will never stop fucking with us until we win a national title…which requires getting to the Sweet 16, which I don’t believe is possible. We’ll need a better team than last year’s Peak Ayo squad, and I’ll never see that. Illini football season ends before December and Illini basketball season ends in the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. It’s still very meaningful to me that Underwood has extended the typical Illini hoops season by a week.

This game featured the single worst technical foul call I’ve ever seen on an RJ Melendez dunk when he hung on the rim until he could safely land without breaking his back like Evan Turner. It was so bad that Patrick McCaffrey complained about it on Twitter.

Anyway, the Big Ten Champs banner is still going up, but Illinois should maybe think about joining a high major conference so that they’re prepared to play great teams in March.

RU in VA: Houston is really good. Sometimes you gotta take the L.

[2] Villanova Wildcats 71, [7] Ohio State Buckeyes 61

BoilerUp89: This weekend I traveled from Ohio to Tennessee, passing thru Kentucky on my way. No teams remain from Ohio (Akron, Wright State, Ohio State), Kentucky (UK - Lexington was very subdued as we drove thru it - & Murray State), or Tennessee (UT & Memphis). I think it might be time to start the crowdfunding to send me to New Jersey before Friday’s games. The real trick will be getting me to either North Carolina or California if that works.

RU in VA: I will NEVER understand how Villanova became the hoops capital of Philly with SO MANY other deserving schools in the area.

Temple is in the hood! They lose John Cheney and decide to drop off the map. Forever.

The most popular nickname for ‘Nova is “Vanilla-Nova”. I’ll let you figure out why.

[2] Duke Blue Devils 85, [7] Michigan State Spartans 76

Green Akers: Boy, if there was a nutshell game of where this program is right now, this was it. MSU probably played at least an A game, maybe not quite an A+, but still their best effort of the year other than the win over Purdue.

What did that get them? Close enough to a win that the opponent’s difference makers had to do their thing. It stings to not be the ones to put the stake in K’s heart, but the Spartans had to go 7/10 from deep in the first half to only be down four at the break.

They were never going to win this game; that they made a much better opponent sweat it out is something of a credit to the coaches and players in a year where they’ve deserved very little of it by this program’s standards.

RU in VA: For the record - in the bracket I care the most about, I did pick MSU to make it to the Final Four. Izzo always pulls wins out of his ass come March.

It was close, but they’ve definitely exposed Duke’s frontcourt’s inability to let the backcourt run guys off the three point line.

[11] Iowa State Cyclones 54, [3] Wisconsin Badgers 49

WSR: I have to thank the badgers for reminding me what pure joy is. Watching Brad Davison cry walking off the court made my heart flutter. And losing 3 of their last 4 with some huge struggles against toothpaste is a perfect ending to their season. Thank you so much yet again, Gabe Kalscheur.

Kind of...: WSR is entitled to take as much clammy joy as he’d like from Wisconsin’s putrid shooting performance. The Badgers collectively sucked yesterday and it was a rough way to end a season that, overall, far exceeded any reasonable expectations.

Johnny Davis is probably off to the NBA, and one can only hope that the “year after” goes as well for UW as 2005 (Elite Eight the year after Devin Harris), 2008 (B1G title and Sweet 16 the year after Alando Tucker), and 2016 (Sweet 16 the year after Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker) did.

In the meantime, I did get an answer to one of the questions I posed in the game preview:

Or will Team Transfer Portal give Minnesota and Penn State fans the ability to go all “durr, Joe Burrow started off here” by proxy celebrating the achievements of Izaiah Brockington and Gabe Kalscheur?

Never stop being predictably you, Gopher fan.

[3] Purdue Boilermakers 81, [6] Texas Longhorns 71

BoilerUp89: After decades of waiting for a broken bracket in their region, Purdue fans finally got their wish. Naturally, it won’t matter since the team failed to get past Texas in the Round of 32 game. I am now sad.

MNW: What the absolute FUCK is this shit. I was PROMISED a Purdue loss. After all it had happened a whole TWO times before.

BoilerUp89: So apparently I owe MNW an apology or some such bullshit. I’m feeling pretty generous at the moment so I’ll go ahead and give him one half-hearted, eye-rolling apology. And also ask why my previews for Thursday and Friday didn’t grant me one free get out of jail free card.

Purdue shot a ridiculous 46 free throws. The complaint department on refs is closed for the year. This crew did a tremendous job of not just letting the shorter, physical Texas defense hack away at the Boilermakers just because Purdue had a height advantage. If it was a foul, they called a foul regardless of player mismatches.

Trevion Williams was the hero of the first half and kept it going the whole game to lead the team in scoring at 22. Edey had a double-double, but honestly didn’t have his best game. Ivey was magical in making his FTs and some big time 3 pointers. Gillis & Hunter played really solid ball. But the BoilerUp89 player of the game award goes to Ethan Morton. Morton played some absolutely brilliant defense on Marcus Carr in the second half and also made both of his three point attempts on a night where the team wasn’t making anything from outside the arc until late in the game. Credit to Painter for making the adjustment to put Morton on Carr in the 2nd half.

Onto the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s!


RU in VA: I hope Saint Pete’s stomps a mudhole in the Boilers.