This one, like the East Region was done by me. While I am yet to read Mookie's West Region, I must say, this one is my personal favorite. Enjoy some of the craziest finishes in March Madness history!
#1 North Carolina vs. #16 Radford
Radford actually took the early 2-0 lead but North Carolina would try to beat them down a bit. But Radford always had a response, down 27-17 they came back to lead 35-34 at one point in the first half! The halftime score would end up being 45-40 UNC on their literal heals against Radford. Fast forward to the second half where once again UNC built up a 10-point lead but once again Radford battled back. THEY WERE WITHIN 2 WITH 1:11 TO GO! But in the end, Thompson hit a dagger floater for the Heels that put them up 4 and Radford was subsequently unable to mount anymore serious threats to the Tar Heels. 89-84 North Carolina survived!
#8 LSU vs. #9 Butler
LSU completely took control of the Butler Bulldogs, leading them 37-26 at halftime. But the tables would be turned in the second half and Butler completely dominated the Tigers. A 22-2 run by the Bulldogs capped off one of the more anti-climatic 11-point comebacks you’ll ever find. Butler 71, LSU 58 the final from Greensboro.
#5 Illinois vs. #12 Western Kentucky
This game does feature a Big 10 team (not to mention a Big 10 team that was on the losing end of a 38-33 game), so naturally, the first half was low scoring and boring. 31-25 Illinois at halftime. The 2nd half starts with Illinois jumping out to a 10-point lead, however, Western Kentucky would battle back and tie the game at 50 with 9:36 to go. Illinois would take the lead back and continue to hang on to a slim margin until TRENT MEACHEM DRILLS A 3 TO PUT THE ILLINI UP BY 6! The Illini are going to finally bury the Hilltoppers. But wait! WKU continues to battle and Steffphon Pettigrew hits a 3 with 8 seconds left! 66-64 Illinois leads! WKU fouls Frazier who makes his first freebie. 3-point lead. THE SECOND ONE IS NO GOOD! Rebound by Sergio Kerusch of WKU and he LAUNCHES A 75-FOOTER AT THE BUZZER………OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!! IT’S GOOD!!!!!!!!!!! WKU’S TIED IT AND WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME!!!!!!! UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!! Into overtime we go and both teams have trouble scoring early on. The first points come from a Meacham 3 for Illinois! Another minute half goes by without a point and McCamey then knocks down another Illinois 3! 6-point game but WKU would continue to battle! A Pettigrew 3 put the Hilltoppers within 2 with 11 seconds left!!! Ensuing Illinois possession, McCamey is fouled, makes both free throws and that puts away this thriller! 78-72 Illinois in OT! Unbelieveable!
#4 Gonzaga vs. #13 Akron
Gonzaga controlled this game from the opening tip and except for a brief period of time where Akron led 11-10, the Zags led the entire game, thoroughly dominating the Zips, 70-50.
#6 Arizona State vs. #11 Temple
It started out as an exciting back and forth run, but midway through the first half, the Temple Owls decided that that would be a good time to open up a can of whoop ass on the Arizona State Sun Devils. ASU would not get close again and the Temple Owls thoroughly handled them, 77-65, leading by as many as 17 at one point.
#3 Syracuse vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin
Maybe all of those overtimes in the Big East Tourney took something out of the Cuse after all. They were locked in a back and forth battle with the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, making their first NCAA tournament appearance of all time. The Orange led by just 5 at halftime. They continued to trade blows in the 2nd half and SFA had a 2-point lead with 9:28 to go! But the Cuse would stick with it and despite coming close several times, they would never relinquish their lead, beating SFA 71-67 in a close and entertaining game of basketball.
#7 Clemson vs. #10 Michigan
A lot of the talk surrounding the game was that of welcoming Michigan back into the tournament. Well, Clemson did exactly that. They welcomed Michigan in with open arms and then proceeded to kick them right back out. 77-60 Clemson and I think that final score says more about this game than I ever could in this summary.
#2 Oklahoma vs. #15 Morgan State
As punishment for the Illinois-WKU thriller, all other games must be blowouts. That is the motto that this region goes by. 80-57 OU over Morgan State and to slightly alter a Tim Brando quote, “That’s why you’re Morgan State”.
#1 North Carolina vs. #9 Butler
This game started out back and forth, but 10-minutes in, the Tar Heels just proceeded to take this one over. Butler would make a run in the 2nd half cutting the lead to 8, but that would be all as the Tar Heels kicked some Butler behind in this one, winning 96-74.
#5 Illinois vs. #4 Gonzaga
This one started out as a Gonzaga blowout, up 21-10 early on the Illini but they came roaring back, pulling to within 4 at halftime, 33-29. Zags build their lead back up in the second half, but again Illinois comes back and leads 48-44 midway through the second half. Back and forth they go for the rest of the half. 51 seconds left in the game and McCamey pulls the Illini to within 1! Zaga ball. Up by 1 with 51 seconds left. They left the clock run down. AND PARGO NAILS A 2-POINT JUMPER WITH 19 SECONDS LEFT! IS THAT THE DAGGER? Illinois has one last chance! AND THEY TURN IT OVER! Illinois fouls Josh Heytvelt with 9 seconds left! AND HE MISSES THE FRONT END OF A 1-AND-1! MIKE DAVIS GETS THE REBOUND FOR THE ILLINI! ONE MORE ONE LAST CHANCE FOR ILLINOIS TO TIE THE GAME DOWN BY 3! DAVIS FOR 3 AND THE TIE!.......NO!!! AND THAT’S IT! GONZAGA SURVIVES AND ADVANCES, BEATING ILLINOIS 70-67 IN A THRILLER!
#3 Syracuse vs. #11 Temple
Naturally, if there was a team that would go the entire distance in this game without trailing it would be Syracuse, but that was not the case! Upset City in Miami! The Temple Owls took it to the Orange in a game where Syracuse never threatened to tie or take the lead. 74-62, the Temple Owls upset Syracuse and advance to the Sweet Sixteen! Unbelieveable!
#2 Oklahoma vs. #7 Clemson
The blowout upsets continue in the South Region! This time it is Clemson taking out Oklahoma. They led dominated the game, led 53-38 at halftime, and never looked back en route to a 93-77 triumph over Oklahoma. And this one was ugly. And yes, this does mean that Temple is playing Clemson in the Sweet Sixteen.
#1 North Carolina vs. #4 Gonzaga
An entertaining start to this one in Memphis! Back and forth and back and forth this one went for the first 20 minutes of play, as Gonzaga and North Carolina played one entertaining half of basketball. Gonzaga led 41-40 at halftime. However, the Gonzaga Bulldogs opened the second half with a 12-1 run and the Tar Heels could never recover from that. And 10 years later, the slipper still fits for Gonzaga! They beat North Carolina 83-69!
#7 Clemson vs. #11 Temple
A very entertaining first half of basketball in Memphis. It started out with some good back and forth action but then Temple got out to a 9-point lead. Clemson would not be fazed, though, they pulled within 4 going into the break, 34-30 Owls. Clemson finishes their comeback but Temple won’t be denied in this one, they jump right out back to an 8-point lead and the Tigers come back from that! Owls now down by 5 with 50 seconds left. INGE HITS A 3 FOR THE OWLS! Clemson has it now. They let some clock run out. 22 seconds. RIVERS MISSES A JUMPER! TEMPLE REBOUND! Time ticking for the Owls! INGE PUTS IT HOME FOR THE OWLS! WE’RE TIED AT 62 WITH 4 SECONDS LEFT! Timeout Clemson. The inbound to Sykes AND HE SCORES A JUMPER! CLEMSON LEADS WITH 1-SECOND LEFT!!!! Temple’s only hope is to inbound it and hope for a Laettner-esque miracle. THE DEEP INBOUND…..CHRISTMAS WITH THE CAAAAAAATCH……FOR THE TIE….YES!!!!!!!!! WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME! UNBELIEVEABLE!! However, there would be no such drama in the OT period. Temple only scored 2 points in the period and could not make a shot for the life of them and the Clemson Tigers win a thriller by a score of 78-68!
#4 Gonzaga vs. #7 Clemson
The Big 10 would have greatly enjoyed the start of this game. Very slow start, but it did pick up. They may not have been projected to get this far, but they traded body shots as if it was a heavyweight fight. It just has that big game feel to it. 33-29 Clemson led at halftime. The second half started similarly. This one has classic written all over it. But wait, someone is finally emerging from the fight! It’s Clemson, they lead by 10 with 6:18 to go! Not so fast though, Gonzaga pulls within 1 with 1:31 to go! Clemson responds with a Booker basket AND-1! He converts. 4-point lead, 1:08 to go. Gonzaga has it. Bouldin makes a turnaround 2 from the left corner! 2-point game! 54 seconds left. Clemson is letting sometime run out AND BOOKER MISSES A JUMP HOOK FOR CLEMSON! REBOUND BY PARGO OF GONZAGA! 2 to tie and 3 to win for the Zags! What will they do? Time ticking……Brown has it….passes to Gray……HE SINKS A 3 FROM THE CORNER!!!!!!! GONZAGA LEADS BY 1 WITH 8 SECONDS LEFT! LAST CHANCE TO DANCE FOR CLEMSON! AND THEY TURN IT OVER!!!! THERE’S THE BUZZER! AND GONZAGA!!!!!!! HAS DONE IT!!!!!!! THEY’RE GOING TO THE FINAL FOUR!!!!! WHAT A GAME!!!! WHAT A GAME!!!! WHAT A GAME!!!
Well, that was fun! Hopefully the West Region and the Final Four will be up by the end of the day (because Mookie has the West Region, and part of the Final Four, I won't be able to get them up until he posts them.