Second-round payoff comes with barrage of OT games
Posted: Sunday March 18, 2007 1:15AM; Updated: Sunday March 18, 2007 1:33AM
SI.com caught up with Seth Davis, who's serving as a CBS studio analyst during the tournament, to get his impressions of Saturday's tournament action.
SI.com: So, we finally have a tournament, don't we?
Seth Davis: Well it was as good a group of games as I can ever remember. It tied a record for most overtimes in a day [three] -- that's happened on a couple of other occasions. And you know sure enough, the one that looks semi-boring (Indiana-UCLA) ends up being 49-49 in the final minute. Everyone in the studio is tired and ready to go home, and I'm screaming I want another OT. I think that the first round was a little bit dull -- you had good games -- but you didn't have upsets, and this is the payoff. The games weren't just closer; they were very well played with players making good plays all over the place. It's not like the Virginia Tech-Illinois game in the first round that was close, but ugly.
SI.com: We touched on free throw shooting a bit Friday, and it seemed to turn some games again Saturday. Can you talk about that?
SD: Justin Cage at Xavier (who did not miss a shot from the floor) he was 8-for-8, and he's at the line in the closing seconds with a three-point lead. If he hits that, it's over. He doesn't, and Ron Lewis hits the three to tie it for Ohio State and then it was really over.
The other kid was Edgar Sosa, the freshman at Louisville. He was 15-of-17 from the free throw line and had 31 points, but the two that he missed were in the last half minute. That was such a great game, and it was really close, wire-to-wire. It was disappointing only in the sense that Sosa made some bad plays in the last minute, both missing the free-throws and then taking an ill-advised three in the final possession. I think he just panicked.
SI.com: For all we've heard about the freshmen at Ohio State this year, it was a senior in Ron Lewis who hit that shot to tie it.
SD: Well I've been saying for a while that if OSU is going to win, it's going to be its older players who will have to lead it. Greg Oden is Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. is Mike Conley Jr. at this point, but Lewis has always been the guy who's going to hit the big shot. Conley is not a bad percentage shooter, but he's not a consistent shooter. I mean, he doesn't score a single point in the second half, and then scores 10 in OT? Ohio State really took every punch Saturday, yet it was still able to win in OT. The older guys are going to have to lead the Buckeyes if they're going to win the championship and Saturday it was Lewis who did.
SI.com: Who was your player of the day?
SD: Wow, take your pick. Derrick Byars of Vanderbilt was phenomenal with 27 points. I really feel like the stars are coming out. Just when their teams need it, the main guys are doing it. A.J. Graves was great for Butler. The Bulldogs have clearly gotten their third and fourth winds. I think they were a little worn down at the end of the season. That was a really good Maryland team it beat Saturday. I've been saying for a while that North Carolina was going to have trouble because Tyler Hansbrough looked so uncomfortable with that mask. Then, two minutes into the game, he flicks it off and goes for 33 points. That was the difference for them. Carolina is not going to look so hot a lot of the time, but it's going to win it in the last five minutes. It's not just about fatigue, the Heels can withstand foul trouble, they can withstand shooting troubles. It was close at the four-minute mark, but they pulled away.
I do have to tell you this, though; the most important win of the day at CBS was Clark Kellogg's two sons. They're on their high school team in Ohio, playing in the state tournament. They made the final four. He was real excited for them.
SI.com: How about the marquee matchup for Day 4?
SD: The best game is going to be Winthrop-Oregon. I really think Winthrop has a chance to go on a run and make the Elite Eight. I think it can be this year's Cinderella. By the way, we have to give props to VCU. It's down by 19 and came back, and could have won that game. I was picking the Rams all day on the air, so rooting for them -- and rooting for myself, I guess.
I'm curious to see how Kansas and Florida play. Both games have a similar texture. Both teams want to get out and go. Purdue and Kentucky want to get at them. There are no easy ones now. We saw that Carolina and UCLA couldn't relax Saturday.
I think USC-Texas is just going to be a great game. Jay Bilas had the line of the day about that one. He suggested that USC play box-and-one and put the box on Kevin Durant. He'd probably still go for 30, though.
All in all, I expect the games to be highly competitive and highly entertaining, but it's going to be hard, if not impossible, to surpass Saturday. It was historic. Every game was tough and competitive.