Friday, March 23
The top seeds rolled on as Michigan State and Illinois joined Stanford and Duke in the Elite Eight. Arizona continued their dominance from the West, and lone Cinderella Temple proved they are more than just on a roll.
Speaking of Cinderella's, Gonzaga, Ole Miss and Penn State all exited the 2001 Tournament Friday night, with nothing to hang their head about. They all had great years they can be proud of. Fans of the tourney have eight remaining teams who promise to provide two more great weekends of basketball!
Michigan State 77, Gonzaga 62:
Top-seeded Michigan State rolled on behind a strong interior game from Andre Hutson, who dominated inside against Gonzaga with 19 points and ten rebounds. Hutson received some help from Diaper Dandy Zach Randolph, who scored ten and had five off the glass. A dominating rebounding team all year, the Spartans went to work cleaning the glass Friday night with 49 rebounds to Gonzaga's 25.
The Zags had a nice run again this year, getting to the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row. But they were no match physically on the inside for the Spartans. The best news of the night for Tom Izzo and his team was that Charlie Bell found his touch; he had 21 points and 10 boards from the guard slot.
Bell did a great job containing Dan Dickau, who has been sensational in tournament play. Friday wasn't Dickau's night, as he went 6-for-17 en route to his 19 points. The Spartans move on to the Elite Eight, where they will be one game away from going to the Final Four for the third consecutive year.
Temple 84, Penn State 72: Temple's ability to come out guns blazing at the first tip of each game throughout this NCAA tournament has been extremely impressive. Against Texas, they dominated and led by 19 at the half. Against Billy Donovan's Florida Gators, the Owls were up by an incredible 20 points at the half way mark. The story was no different in the Sweet 16 against Penn State, as Jerry Dunn's team was blitzed and found themselves down by 18 at the half.
The perimeter shooting of Lynn Greer and Quincy Wadley, combined with Alex Westby's effective play, led to Temple's big halftime lead. It was coast-city from there on out. Penn State couldn't get it done as the Crispins had a rough night. It was a tough way for senior Joe to end his collegiate career. An 11th seed, Temple is now the lone Cinderella of this tournament. The way the Owls are playing, they could give defending champ Michigan State a lot of trouble come the regional final on Sunday.
Arizona 66, Ole Miss 56: Keep the cry coming out in the West: West Coast basketball is as good as any hoops in the country. Arizona marched on Friday night with solid defense and excellent interior play. Richard Jefferson--who has developed into a solid defensive player for the Wildcats-- had his offensive game going too as he scored 15 with 11 rebounds. 7-foot-2 center Loren Woods had a big game with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and was a major factor inside. Woods' ability to change shots and dominate in a three-second area created problems for Ole Miss star Rahim Lockhart. Ole Miss never got going on the interior.
Arizona came out with the impressive victory despite a poor shooting night from their perimeter guys --Jason Garder and Gilbert Arenas. Arizona and Lute Olsen prove again that with solid defense, great team play and interior domination is the formula for getting to the winner's circle.
Illinois 80, Kansas 64: Illinois made it a perfect 4-4, as all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Elite Eight. It wasn't easy, but the Illini got it done against Kansas with depth, offensive rebounding and a solid performance by Frank Williams. The bench scoring was a huge factor, as Lucas Johnson and Damir Krupalija were important keys for the Illini success. They prevailed despite a rough outing for Cory Bradford.
The final score was not indicative of this game, as Roy Williams' Kansas team gave Illinois a real battle. In the regional final, it will be round three for Illinois and Arizona. They split their previous two matchups in the regular season, so Sunday's game should be a real thriller to see who marches on to Minneapolis!