March Madness: Friday games
There wasn't a great buzz during the first few games on Friday. Then again, it would be tough to match the excitement, intensity and emotion of Thursday.
• I was really impressed with Cornell's win over Temple. The Big Red did a great job passing the ball in the interior; the team hit 18-of-25 two-point shots. Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman combined for 41 points and Temple could not stop them. The 78 points were the most allowed by the Owls this season.
This is a very dangerous Cornell squad. It is a team that knows how to play and Steve Donahue's club understands its strengths and weaknesses. This was the first NCAA tournament win by an Ivy League team since Princeton beat UNLV in 1998.
• Jordan Crawford was the star of stars for Xavier, scoring 28 big points in a win over Minnesota. He also had five assists and just one turnover. His performance offset struggle city from Jason Love and Terrell Holloway, who hit just three-of-19 between them.
Wow, Kelvin Sampson is still having an influence on the Big Dance. Two of his former players, Crawford and Armon Bassett of Ohio U., have been super so far in the tourney.
Xavier did a good job defending Lawrence Westbrook in the second half. The Golden Gopher had 15 points in the first half and just four after that.
• Bob Huggins must have been surprised when his Mountaineers were behind 10-0 against Morgan State. That didn't last long, though!
• West Virginia won the Big East tournament and the momentum of that W was felt. The Mountaineers are simply too talented and too strong defensively. Huggins has that winner's mentality and it showed against Todd Bozeman's overmatched club.
Kevin Jones and the physical frontline took over. Jones hit eight-of-10 from the field, scoring 17 points while grabbing nine boards.
• Missouri's pressure defense was a big factor in its win over Clemson. Mike Anderson's Tigers finished with 15 steals.
• Keith Ramsey has developed into a factor up front. With Justin Safford sidelined, Ramsey hit eight-of-11 field goals and scored 20 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Kim English also chipped in with 20 and he has been underrated this season. Wofford was not cupcake city for Wisconsin.
Mike Young's team gave the Badgers a scare. Wofford beat South Carolina and Georgia in the regular season and gave Pittsburgh a battle.
Jon Leuer and Trevon Hughes combined for 39 of Wisconsin's 53 points as Bo Ryan's club advanced. A concern for the Badgers: one-for-nine from three-point range. A lot of people felt Siena was a lower seed capable of an upset. The Saints knocked off Vanderbilt two years ago and Ohio State last year in the Big Dance.
• Purdue had just 11 points in the first half of the Big Ten tournament game vs. Minnesota. Matt Painter's team was down at halftime against Siena. Keaton Grant hit a couple of big threes in the second half and the Boilermakers started to roll.
JaJuan Johnson had 23 points and 15 boards. This team is not the same without Robbie Hummel, but they will fight, scrap and claw. Pittsburgh is all about balance. Five players scored in double figures and Jamie Dixon's team is fundamentally sound.
• The Panthers shot almost 54 percent en route to a win over Oakland. Dixon's club is solid in early-round games.