First and second round upsets, what hath you wrought? Friday's lineup is less inspiring than Thursday's offering, which probably means we are in for some barnburners. What we lack in match-ups, we get in personalities. So, on with the run-down.
Reprising their roles from 28 Days Later, Purdue, Michigan St and Ohio St come into tonight's action in various states of the undead; missing ligaments, tendons and dragging their bum legs respectively. Bruce Pearl will do his best Quagmire impersonation with the Wash U and SLU co-eds in the STL. Just don't pull a Pitino on The Hill, Brucey. I can't decide if UNI's Lucas O'Rear is a tubby Leprechaun(!) or a rejected extra from The Departed. Omar Samhan will continue to sadistically drive voodoo pins into the Gonzaga fanbase. With any luck, this will be last game for the Scheyer face before he joins Niv Berkowitz in the Israeli league. And Baylor has men named Tweety, LaceDarius, Ekpe and Dragan.
On to the basketball!
(6) Tennessee vs. (2) Ohio St 6:07 Central
Because of all the breathless man-love that Evan Turner gets, no one really notices that Ohio St has a very dangerous starting five. Diebler, Lighty and Buford can all score and Lauterdale is a beast on the defensive end. Also lost in the Evan Turner hyperventilating is his high turnover rate. Tennessee will bring the pressure and Turner will cough it up, but Ohio St has too much firepower to fall to the short-handed Volunteers.
(9) Northern Iowa vs. (5) Michigan St 8:37 Central
I don't know if you've heard, but Michigan St has injury issues. Another under the radar story is this guy named Ali for UNI. Ali? In Iowa? I know, weird. Last time I checked, this is the NCAA Tournament and its Tom Izzo's birthright to win in the tournament. Big East fans, brace yourselves for the Big 11 spooge-fest that MSU-tOSU will be in the Elite 8.
(10) St. Mary's (CA) vs. (3) Baylor 6:27 Central
Baylor has the size to match up with Samhan, the perimeter athletes to harass the Gaels' shooters and the home court in Houston. St. Mary's run ends here.
(4) Purdue vs. (1) Duke (9:57 Central)
For all the bad mouthing that Purdue has taken, they still only have five losses on the year. Sure, they aren't the same team without Hummel, but they'll lock in on Duke defensively and stay within striking distance. Duke's balance on offense and defense will ultimately prevail. I can't wait to watch Zoubek crash the offensive glass - definition of a role player.