The Villanova-Pitt epic; UConn's inside game and an OU-UNC pick
Pitt-Villanova will go down in NCAA tournament history
Missouri did not shoot well enough to overcome its inside disadvantage vs. UConn
North Carolina-Oklahoma should have a national-championship feel to it
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 regional finals.
SI.com: Was the Pitt-Villanova game the best game of the tournament so far?
Seth Davis: It's going to go down as one of the great games in NCAA tournament history, that's for sure. Sometimes you have close, competitive games that aren't played that well, but this one was played at a high level the whole 40 minutes. It's just a shame one of them had to lose in the end, and that's a rough way to go out for Pitt. In an earlier game today, Missouri lost to UConn and walks away taking solace in the year and in the tournament that they had --- they went further than anyone would have guessed. Pitt, on the other hand, walks away heartbroken --- they did everything but make the final play. But if you go 22 from 23 from foul line like Villanova did, you deserve to win.
SI.com: What did UConn do better than Missouri today?
SD: The foul line was huge in that game. Missouri shot only 12 free throws (compared to 45 against Memphis). They're not a good three-point shooting team. They were 5-for-18 from three, which is below what they usually shoot, but not very far. Against UConn, you're not going to score inside --- they were outrebounded by 14 and UConn takes away your ability to drive and they don't foul. And to win in the tournament, one of these guys always have to step up and today that was Kemba Walker for UConn: 23 points, 7 for 9 from the floor, 9 for 10 from the line ... that's a pretty good day's work.
SI.com: You talked to Jeff Capel and Blake Griffin on the air -- did they say anything else that we didn't hear at halftime?
SD: I jokingly said to Coach Capel, 'I know that you went to Duke. Have you talked to Coach K or their assistants for insight to UNC?' He answered, 'Not to be conceited, but I think we can scout them pretty well'. He said he talked to them today and they offered congratulations, but he didn't ask for scouting reports. That is ironic because I remember working on the student newspaper at Duke and someone asked Coach K if he had asked for a scouting report from Bob Knight and he answered, 'Somewhere between 20 years of coaching, I think we've learned how to scout a team.'
SI.com: What's your pick for the epic battle of Carolina-Oklahoma tomorrow?
SD: I like the one-seed tomorrow. I think Carolina's just playing at a high level, but of course, so is Oklahoma. Oklahoma is a Final Four-caliber team. I think we'll see a regional final game that's equal to a national championship-style game.
SI.com: We know Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough will have a great battle down in the lane --- but who is the x-factor?
SD: Tony Crocker. He scored his career-high 28 points last night and he previously has not shot the ball well for most of the tournament. Someone besides Blake Griffin is going to have to have a great game for Oklahoma, because you know someone else will for North Carolina ... Wayne Ellington has been as good of a guard as there's been in the last three weeks and Carolina's just so loaded. That being said, Oklahoma's defense is really good and is bigger up front and very tough defensively. It will be probably the toughest that Carolina's played all year. It's definitely a grab-a-cold-one-and-sit-back-on-your-couch game, because it will be epic.
SI.com: Now that Pitt's out, who's your national championship pick?
SD: I guess I'll go with UNC, until they lose tomorrow and then I'll have to pick someone else. Pitt went down fighting, that's for sure. If they got to Final Four, they could have won it all. For those seniors that's a really, really hard way to have your career end.
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