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Vitale's Best of the Week: March 9

Dick Vitale Archive

Dickie V, Digger and Chris Fowler analyze the Pac-10's first-day tourney success.
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 In The Books
ESPN's College GameNight crew recaps Day 1 of the NCAA tourney.
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Butler, Michigan State send high seeds packing


During the regular season, I reviewed each week with my Best of the Week awards. During the NCAA Tournament, I'll hand out best-of-the-day awards, baby!

Butler senior guard Darnell Archey hit big shot after big shot, pumping in eight of nine trifectas as the lowest seed left in the tournament made the Sweet 16 by stunning Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals.

Michigan State played hard in sending No. 2 seed Florida packing. Tom Izzo has his Spartans peaking at the right time with Chris Hill, Alan Anderson and company fired up.

OK, I believe, I believe! Auburn proved it belonged in the Big Dance by making the Sweet 16 with an upset over Wake Forest. Ellis has motivated his players, and next up is a game against Syracuse in Albany.

The Bulldogs became the third 12th seed to make the Sweet 16 over the last three years. Butler made 14-of-22 trifectas to get to the winner's circle. That's pretty impressive for a team that didn't receive a single vote in the preseason coaches poll. Todd Lickliter and company belonged in the NCAA Tournament last year, and now they are making noise this time around.

When freshmen Gerry McNamara and Carmelo Anthony struggled in the first half, point guard Billy Edelin stepped up and came through. Imagine if Syracuse had him all season long instead of sitting out 12 games due to a questionable NCAA ruling?

Edelin has really stepped it up lately and finished with 20 points today.


What an amazing game between Gonzaga and Arizona! Under that kind of pressure, a lot of teams would have folded. This game was a classic, one of the best games in the tournament over the last decade.

It really was like a heavyweight fight, with both teams having opportunities to win. Gonzaga fought on despite an injury which sidelined Ronny Turiaf. Arizona, with veterans Luke Walton, Jason Gardner and Rick Anderson fighting, scrapping and clawing, did not want to lose. In the end, Gonzaga had two shots to pull off the shocker but it wasn't meant to be. Mark Few and Lute Olson can be proud of their teams.

The transfer from Maryland really set the tone for Notre Dame's win over Illinois by hitting all five of his 3-point attempts while scoring 17 points in the first half. Miller finished nine of 15 from the floor and scored 23 points in 38 minutes for Mike Brey's Irish.

There were very few surprises on Saturday. There were those who felt Illinois could make a run at a Final Four berth. The Irish dominated from long range to get the big victory on Brey's birthday!

After being shut out in just nine minutes in the opening round due to the flu, Bookout came through with a big performance against California. He made nine of 11 shots, finishing with 22 points.

He has kept his team together despite injury and illness. Some people felt California was capable of upsetting Oklahoma, but Sampson and company had other thoughts, advancing to face the Louisville-Butler winner in the next round.


The Tigers won in an Maalox Masher over St. Joseph's and Marquis Daniels came through with big shot after big shot. He hit a big 3-pointer to send the contest into overtime and finished with 25 points. He is the best player in America among unsung performers that people don't know about. And even in defeat, John Goldsberry put on a tremendous performance. The freshman hit all eight of his 3-point attempts and almost singlehandedly stole the game from Maryland.

I felt that Auburn was a questionable choice for the NCAA tournament because of the cupcakes on its nonconference schedule. Cliff Ellis and company got a hard-fought win over St. Joseph's.

The Boilermakers were 3-6 in their last nine games entering the big dance. After being tied at halftime against LSU, Gene Keady's team went on a 13-0 run to start the second half en route to an easy win. Purdue outscored LSU 48-24 in the second half.

A number of people, including me, thought Mississippi State was a sleeper in that region, but now the Bulldogs are asleep. Butler's Brandon Miller hit the game-winning shot and sent them packing.

In the first half against East Tennessee State, Eric Williams was dominant while ACC Most Outstanding Player Josh Howard was held to six points. Williams finished with 20 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

The Utes played shorthanded as Britton Johnsen was sidelined again due to mono. Utah still controlled tempo and did a great job defensively on Luke Ridnour. His reward for the win ... a date against the nation's premier team, Kentucky and Tubby Smith.


The brilliant play of sophomore guard Travis Diener saved Marquette on a day when superstar Dwyane Wade didn't score a point in a nightmarish first half. Diener shot just 39.2 percent from the field in the regular season, but he hit 9-of-14 shots Thursday, including 5-of-9 trifectas. Diener was sensational, especially while Wade struggled. Diener scored a career-high 29 points to help thwart a valiant effort by Holy Cross.

Some may consider 13th-seeded Tulsa's upset of fourth-seeded Dayton the biggest upset of the day, since Dayton was the lowest seed to post a victory on Thursday. But I disagree, because I was more surprised by the loss of sixth-seeded Creighton (led by Kyle Korver) to 11th-seeded Central Michigan and 7-footer Chris Kaman.

Coach Rob Evans' 10th-seeded Sun Devils scored an impressive double-digit victory over seventh-seeded Memphis.

Freshman guard Dee Brown made made the difference with his energy and ability (16 points, eight assists, seven rebounds), sparking the fourth-seeded Illini to a 65-60 win over 13th-seeded Western Kentucky.

Jay Smith was the architect of Central Michigan's upset over Creighton in the West Region.

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