Dick Vitale may be sidelined, but the game of college basketball itself is enough to start getting excited.
Wednesday night I attended the UNLV-Arizona game, expecting a high-scoring performance by super soph Chase Budinger. Didn't happen -- he couldn't buy an outside shot, going 1-for-7, and ended up with 6 points. But the Wildcats won anyway, mostly behind man-among-boys Jordan Hill, who had a double-double at the half and finished with 16 points and 19 rebounds. They made a few smart plays at the end, and UNLV (which had led for most of the game) showed a lack of poise with some strange, rushed shots. Still, I would consider it a quality win for the newly Lute-less team.
As a fan who appreciates the art of the rebound, I wondered how perennially undersized Duke would fare against a talented big man like the 6'10" Jordan Hill. My question was somewhat answered Thursday, as Pittsburgh's 6'7" frosh DeJuan Blair notched 15 points and 20 rebounds in his team's win over my alma mater. I saw only part of the game, so I feel unqualified to comment, but I wonder if the Blue Devils can learn from this experience and neutralize the ACC's big men (including Tyler Hansbrough, who's no longer fooling anyone with his goofy looks).
Memphis beat Georgetown. Michigan State beat Texas. Mississippi beat Clemson. (Go M teams!) After this weekend's games, only 9 undefeated teams remain. So here's the latest Seeded 16:
South Regional (Houston)
01. Memphis: Down goes Georgetown, but next comes Arizona.
08. Vanderbilt: Eaten cupcakes thus far, plus GT and Wake.
09. Sam Houston State: Will they run the table? Probably not.
16. UCLA: Open Pac-10 play with a couple of Bay Area games.
Midwest Regional (Detroit)
02. Kansas: Has 7 weeks to prepare for that Texas game.
07. Miami: Might keep winning for another month.
10. Tennessee: Great road win vs. Xavier. Next up is Gonzaga.
15. Butler: Most likely to win out rest of regular season.
East Regional (Charlotte)
03. UNC: Good work, Roy. They're like the Kansas of the East.
06. Mississippi: Showed something by giving Clemson first loss.
11. Michigan State: Statement win against a strong Texas team.
14. Texas A&M: Only loss to Arizona in tough McKale Center.
West Regional (Phoenix)
04. Washington State: Exercised state superiority at Zags.
05. Pittsburgh: Played to their strengths in beating Duke.
12. Texas: Can't slip too far after close loss in Auburn Hills.
13. West Virginia: Tough stretch of games in next 2 weeks.
Also considered: Georgetown, Marquette, Duke, Arizona.