Sam Young scored a team-high 15 points as No. 3 seed Pitt dropped VCU in overtime.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- As the crowd filed out, a saxophonist in the VCU pep band hunched over and blew a few sedated, bluesy notes for no one in particular. The horns of the Pittsburgh ensemble at the other end of the floor drowned him out, blasting Celebration while victorious coach Jamie Dixon and guard Mike Cook were being interviewed by CBS, and we were left to dwell on what might have been here at HSBC Arena.
An amazing, 19-point comeback by VCU in the final 12 minutes of regulation -- much of it ignited by intense full-court pressure -- sent the game into overtime, but alas had no Shining Moment or Eric Maynor Miracle for an ending. What the Rams could do against Duke could not be replicated against the Panthers, who went on a 7-2 run to open the extra period and hung on to win 84-79.
While Pitt's role here in Buffalo will most likely be remembered as that of a mid-major villain -- it blew out Wright State before sinking VCU -- it leaves the first two rounds having proven an important point: That it is deep and experienced enough to win on a big stage even when Aaron Gray is ailing, and therefore should not be written off as mere Sweet Sixteen fodder for UCLA, the team led by Dixon's coaching mentor, Ben Howland.
Whereas last year's Panthers, who lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Bradley, might have bowed out in the face of adversity, this veteran team rallied around it. The first situation arose for Pitt late Thursday night, when the 7-foot Gray, their primary size advantage over the Rams, came down with an illness and couldn't practice on Friday. "Last night, I felt terrible," Gray said after Saturday's game. "I don't know if it was food poisoning or a stomach virus, but I got maybe an hour and half of sleep."
As Pitt's Big Queasy recounted the more unpleasant details of his symptoms in the locker room, he was so exhausted that the only way he could stand was with his hands on his knees. He had been limited to 26 minutes and looked delirious at times, but still managed to score 14 points (his season average) and dish out a team-high five assists. Gray was less impressed with his perseverance, though, than he was how many of his teammates had stepped up while he was nauseous. Cook had scored seven early points to help build a first-half lead, Sam Young poured in a team-high 15, and seven different Panthers finished with at least eight points.
"We have a lot of weapons, and with all the attention I'm getting, the supporting cast that can come up huge," Gray said. "We have a great playmaker in Levance [Fields], a great shooter in Ronald Ramon, big athletes in Sam Young and Keith Benjamin, and maybe one of the smartest players in college basketball in Levon Kendall. So if you try to take me away, there's definitely more options for this team."
Kendall fouled out with 3:42 left in overtime -- his glue-guy stat line reading eight points, eight boards and three blocks -- but the senior forward's headiness played a role even after he was disqualified. With 2.1 seconds left in regulation and the chance to win the game from the charity stripe, Fields, a sophomore, had missed two free throws, leaving the score tied at 69-69. His Goat Potential was huge heading into the extra period.
Walking toward the pre-OT huddle, Fields was met by Kendall, who grabbed the young point guard and said, "Look, the game is not over. Make sure you get a second chance to win it in overtime. We need you."
At the 3:10 mark in OT, with the score 72-71 in Pitt's favor, Fields shook off VCU's B.A. Walker with a crossover and drilled a cold-blooded 3-pointer. The Rams would claw back to within one in the final 30 seconds, but never fully recovered from Fields' redeeming long-range bomb. The sad-sax notes faded along with the potential darlings of the dance, and another big, bad veteran power was headed into the second weekend.
Player Who Impressed Me:Jesse Pellot-Rosa, VCU. JP-R got overlooked amid the Duke upset's Maynor Mania, but the Rams' leading scorer from the regular season was brilliant during their second-half comeback. The following stats are just jaw-dropping: Up until the point where VCU trailed Pitt by 19 -- the 12:11 mark of the second half -- Pellot-Rosa had put up two points, one assist, zero steals and zero offensive rebounds. In the final 8:49 of regulation and the five minutes of OT, he racked up 18 points, three assists, three offensive rebounds and one steal. Bravo, Jesse: You were a hyphenated hero in defeat. Courtside Confidential: Maynor wore a pair of customized black-and-yellow NikeID shoes, which he ordered online, that said "Macmain 3" on the tongue. His teammates borrowed the Macmain nickname from a member of rapper Lil' Wayne's group. ... Maynor's father, George, who was in the stands, was a fourth-round draftee of the Chicago Bulls in 1979. Also a point guard, he stayed for his senior year at East Carolina and entered the Bulls' training camp in 1980, where he was let go in the final round of cuts. Eric's clutch genes were passed down from George: Pops said he hit a game-winner to beat a Jim Valvano-coached Iona team in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1979. ... Despite Pittsburgh's proximity to Buffalo -- just 216 miles, according to Google Maps -- the Panthers had a surprisingly small contingent of fans at HSBC Arena. A larger showing might have helped them when the other 90 percent of the crowd turned in VCU's favor during the comeback.
The Big Picture: The Panthers' Sweet Sixteen matchup with UCLA will be billed as the Dixon-Howland duel, as they'll be facing their former head coach for the first time since he bolted for Westwood. It's an intriguing storyline, but I'm more interested in two less feature-worthy developments: 1) the Bruins looked mighty vulnerable against Indiana on Saturday and 2) this Pitt team is playing with far more confidence than the one that bowed out early in the 2006 tournament. When he looked around the huddle before overtime, Dixon said, "I don't think there was any doubt in my mind we'd win the game. The guys all believed."
The odds will be against Dixon & Co., who must fly cross-country and take on Howland's boys in their home state. Pitt looked shaky at times in the second half, but its players truly believe that the West Region isn't just a toss-up between UCLA and Kansas. After watching the Panthers weather VCU's storm, it's tough to disagree.
Pete Campbell (34), Julian Betko and the Bulldogs are in the Sweet 16 for the second time in four years.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Win the pace war against Maryland, Butler figured, and it would win the game. All season long, the Bulldogs have witnessed the implosions of impatient opponents; the Horizon League's powerhouse takes the air out of the ball, waits for a defensive lapse, and then shoots daggers with the shot clock running down. It's a formula that always works: Heading into Saturday, when fifth-seeded Butler had monopolized time of possession and held its foes to under 60 points, it was 20-0.
The fourth-seeded Terrapins only managed 59, as the Bulldogs' sub-60 resume hit 21-0 and they sealed their second trip to the Sweet 16 of this decade. If one were to dwell only on athletic aesthetics -- comparing the Average Joe frontline of Brandon Crone and Brian Ligon against the highlight-reel duo of James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe; or the spindly, Chitwood-esque A.J. Graves against the prep phenom Mike Jones -- Butler's victory might seem like a fluke. But the truth is, it has this methodical style down to a science; early-season victims Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Purdue can provide references for its effectiveness. In kenpom.com's pace rankings, the Terps were the 10th fastest team and the Bulldogs were the 330th, and on Saturday the Turtle was ground to a halt by the NCAA tournament's most dangerous tortoise.
"We work on being patient and keeping our poise -- especially against teams like Maryland that like to get up and down," said forward Julian Betko. "Our plan was not to get in their tempo, and play our tempo instead. I'm not saying they can't guard, but they don't want to guard. They just want to steal it, or get a rebound and go. So what we did was work the shot clock and get the best looks we could possibly get."
Butler's veteran lineup of three seniors (Betko, Crone and Ligon) and two juniors (Graves and Mike Green) had the poise to make big plays down the stretch. Graves' three with 2:11 left was clutch, and Green's offensive rebound with seven seconds to go and the Bulldogs up 61-59 clinched the game. The moments that truly displayed the power of coach Todd Lickliter's system, however, were stashed earlier in the second half.
With 12:55 left, and the Bulldogs up one, 42-41, Ligon rebounded a missed Graves jumper. Programmed not to force a quick shot, they instead went through a 25-second sequence that ended with two quintessential "Butler Passes:" Betko turned down a semi-open 3 from the top of key to hit Ligon on the left block; then Ligon passed up a contested layup but drew the attention of defender Gist, and wrapped the ball around to Drew Streicher for what was indeed the best possible look -- a one-foot bank shot.
The second masterpiece possession came at the 6:53 mark, when Butler, which plays in Hinkle Fieldhouse, the state tournament site in Hoosiers, went into full Norman Dale Mode. The ball touched no fewer than six sets of hands -- from Green, to Crone, to Betko, to Graves, back to Crone, and finally, back to Betko -- before he drilled a three-pointer from the left wing to put the Bulldogs up 51-46. Crone, the assist man there, would later knock down two jumpers in the final five seconds of the shot clock that demoralized the comeback-minded Terps. "It's a tough task to guard 30 seconds side to side," said Green. "We drill that in practice ... and we're pretty good with the shot clock under 10."
Despite its crunch-time savvy, Butler is the rare mid-major who entered the dance feeling slightly unloved. The NIT Season Tip-Off champs sat in the AP poll's Top 10 in February, but were banished from the rankings altogether after three late conference losses. "It's a small league, so [the nation] did kind of forget about us," said Crone. "But we don't care, to be honest."
The Bulldogs just keep on rolling in the dance, and keep on being called "smart" and "quaint" and "old-school" as they pick apart more modern opponents. Even Philly product Green, the player on Butler's roster who looks the most like he belongs in the ACC, is comfortable with the fact that any conversation about his team tends to gravitate toward words like "Basketball IQ" rather than, say, "high-wire act." "We're challenged a little bit physically, but as far as thinking," he said, "we might be one of the best teams in America."
Smart enough -- and patient enough -- to win a potential matchup with Florida next week? For an underdog that rose from being picked sixth in the Horizon League preseason poll, to finishing the regular season as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, that will be the ultimate battle of wits.
Chris "Big Greasy" Daniels (right) nearly stuffed Michael Flowers out of the dance.
Jonathan Daniels/Getty Images
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It's snowing like mad here in Western New York, where I'm cooped up in a hotel room, listening to the Metro Rail trains ring their bells on the street below and wondering if there's any chance I'll actually be able to fly to Chicago on Sunday.
Texas A&M Corpus-Christi, regrettably, won't be around if I do get to the United Center. The Islanders just let a Santa Clara-level upset slip through their hands -- as bad as Wisconsin looked today, it was once the nation's No. 1 team -- and I can't help but wonder what might have been. The nation would have fallen in love with the awkward acronym (TAMU-CC). How could it not embrace a squad that, among other things:
• Wears durasheen jerseys that look like cheap knockoffs of the original Minnesota Timberwolves duds. • Didn't have a logo or athletic program as of 1998. • Has a tiny pep band wearing hilarious Hawaiian shirts. • Calls an ex-Naval radar station in the Gulf of Mexico home. • Has a starter named Scooby. • Has a star center whose nickname is Big Greasy, and enjoys Whataburgers.
Instead, the team still standing is Wisconsin, which may seem less intriguing on the surface but does have a number of redeeming qualities. I spent 12 hours behind the scenes with the Badgers in February and learned, among other things, that Kammron Taylor is a solid amateur magician, Alando Tucker raps Lil' Wayne on the otherwise-silent bus to games, and they are very fond of barking.
Wisconsin has also inspired more hilarious musical tributes than any other team in the country. The Alando Tucker song -- a knockoff of ABBA's Fernando -- originated from WOLX in Madison and gained some Internet fame after we linked it up and customized an ABBA greatest hits cover in the SI.com Power Rankings. That image popped up everywhere, and no one ever asked me for the rights.
The popularity of the Tucker song, I think, led Badger State singer-songwriter Peter Leidy to send the blog an exclusive mp3 of his new track Mr. Bo Ryan. It's an ode to the UW coach set to the tune of Jerry Jeff Walker's Mr. Bojangles that Leidy originally performed on Wisconsin Public Television.
I believe you will find this verse particularly amazing (it's best listened to while simultaneously reading Rick Reilly's column on the Badgers' skipper):
You work hard, you play to win but you keep it fair in every game You're not the kind of guy who'd commit perjury or expose Valerie Plame The players keep us excited and they've never been indicted We respect you for that, yeah yeah
That's Bo Ryan, folks. His team may be prone to 19-point first halves, but he'd never rat out a CIA agent.
VCU's Matt Coward holds the team's symbol of unity -- a gold chain -- after its upset of Duke.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It was a small gesture, easy to miss in the last-minute melee of an NCAA tournament thriller, but if you saw the wave, you knew how the ending would unfold. The ball had barely emerged from the net after Duke's DeMarcus Nelson laid it in to tie the game at 77-77 with 10.3 seconds left, when VCU guard Eric Maynor turned toward his coach, Anthony Grant, and with two motions of his hand, conveyed a message:
No need for a timeout. I'm taking over.
Few seniors would have the cojones -- or the confidence -- to make such a move, with their 11th-seeded team's Cinderella life on the line against one of college basketball's most venerable programs. Maynor happens to be a 6-foot-2, 165-pound wisp of a sophomore, but no ordinary underclassman. In the Colonial Athletic Association finals, he scored nine straight points in the final two minutes to knock off 2006 Final Four darling George Mason, and on Thursday, hit two consecutive Rams field goals leading up to the last sequence. So when Grant spied Maynor motioning from the other end of the court, he was not worried, but rather, "excited -- because I wasn't calling a timeout."
"There were 10 seconds to go in the game, and I was going to put the ball in his hands, and let him give us an opportunity to win in regulation."
Maynor raced upcourt, a cold-blooded ballhandler surveying the chaotic scene in front of him. "I felt like they were going to be in a scramble situation," he said of Duke's defenders, "and they weren't going to be able to match up." While the Blue Devils -- freshman Jon Scheyer in particular -- seemed unable to anticipate Maynor's final move, some of his VCU teammates were well aware of what was about to occur. They affectionately call Maynor "Bobblehead," because his head appears disproportionately large, and as senior guard Jesse Pellot-Rosa said, "When he crosses over, his head bobbles -- all 'wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-like,' -- but if he doesn't bobble, we know he's pulling up."
Bobblehead didn't wobble, and Maynor drained a free-throw-lane length jumper with 1.8 seconds left, putting the Rams up 79-77 and sending the crowd at HSBC Arena into a state of frenzy. Maynor -- who would finish with 22 points, eight assists and three steals -- jumped into the arms of teammate Jamal Shuler as Duke called a timeout, and reserve Matt Coward sprinted off the bench holding up the gold chain that has served as the symbol of VCU's unity since late February. Blue Devils point guard Greg Paulus, whose pas de deux with Maynor had been the game's biggest storyline, missed a desperation heave at the buzzer. The big dance had its first and only big upset of opening day, and Duke's run of nine straight Sweet 16 appearances was halted.
Maynor's mom, Barbara Johnson, ran down to the front row of the VCU section in the aftermath, in hopes of getting a word in with her son, a Fayetteville, N.C., product who had grown up as a Tar Heels fan and thus had an extensive history of despising Duke. Thursday, he got to take matters into his own hands. "That was the best shot in the world!" Henderson screamed as Maynor was being interviewed live on CBS. "Look at him down there! He's still got energy!"
Indeed, looking at interviewees Maynor and Grant, the two men of the hour, one got the feeling that VCU's run in this tournament is far from finished. There are NCAA tournament upsets that come off as flukes, but this was not one of them; the Rams clawed back from a 13-point deficit early in the first half to trail by only two at halftime, and never lost their composure in a tense last 20 minutes. In Maynor, who plays like a senior, and fellow guards Pellot-Rosa and B.A. Walker, who actually are seniors, VCU has a battle-tested, hot-shooting backcourt that stacks up against any team -- mid-major or major -- in the country. And in Grant, the first-year head coach who was an assistant on Florida's national championship team last season, they have a motivator who is one of the rising stars of the profession.
In the last week of the Rams' regular season, coming off a BracketBusters loss to Bradley, Grant received an idea from mentor Billy Donovan -- to come up with a symbol that represented the team's desire for greatness. VCU was on its way to a stellar regular-season finish at 24-6 and 16-2 in the CAA, but Grant needed a way to make sure his players didn't get complacent. Out of his chat with Donovan, the chain -- a simple string of gold-painted carabiner clips, one for each player, with his initials written on athletic tape -- was born.
"We had a lot more that we wanted to accomplish, and what it was going to take was a tremendous commitment on their part," Grant said. "It was as simple as a decision. If they decided they would stay together ... we could accomplish these special things. They made that decision, and the chain is just a symbol of that commitment."
The Rams linked up for the CAA tournament, pulling off a stunning comeback over last year's historic NCAA giant-killers, the Patriots, in the title game. Afterwards, Maynor said George Mason guard Gabe Norwood wished him good luck -- and told him to go and win some games in the NCAAs. In the locker room on Thursday, VCU's players ceremoniously reconstructed the chain, one player at a time, before taking the floor against Duke.
The CAA's latest David has traded in its stones for golden carabiners. Every player has a link, and every link represents a different role. Grant, laughing, said that Maynor's responsibilities are simple: "To make shots at the end of the game."
Grant was then asked what he considered was his link's assignment. "I don't know," he said. "I guess, to tell [the players] what theirs are."
One he is adamant about not telling his Rams -- despite what so many pundits are saying -- is that they are this year's George Mason, even if their route to NCAA tournament glory went through the Patriots. "I don’t see it that way," he said. "We're just trying to be VCU."
The thing is, coach, that in the course of being VCU, you're starting evoke memories of George Mason. And that, in Cinderella parlance, is hardly a negative development.
A.J. Graves certainly earned a drink of water after his game against Old Dominion.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In case you were under the impression that the players in the NCAA's multi-billion-dollar tournament have an overly cushy experience, I bring you this story from the Butler locker room.
About a half hour after the fifth-seeded Bulldogs' 57-46 win over 12th-seeded Old Dominion, I spotted star guard A.J. Graves standing near the door still in full uniform, not looking as jubilant as you'd expect someone to appear after winning a first-round game. Initially I thought he might be disappointed with the postgame spread -- he was glancing over at the bland, boxed sub sandwiches and bottles of Powerade -- but would the third son of a rural Indiana plumber really be that picky?
It turned out that Graves, wasn't critiquing the food; he was just dying of thirst. The NCAA had selected Graves and teammate Brandon Crone for random postgame drug tests, which meant no food and no liquids until after they filled the testers' cups. "How can you tell a guy who just sweated through a whole game he can't have anything to drink?" Graves said.
Graves, an innocent-looking, Jimmy Chitwood-type character, hadn't pulled a Scot Pollard or been caught holding a Josh Heytveltgym bag -- he was just randomly selected as part of the NCAA's standard tournament screening process for all teams. It was an annoying coincidence, though, that he had already been forced to take a drug test last week. "I'm an actuarial science major," said Graves, a junior. "I needed to take it for a summer job at an insurance company in Indianapolis -- and I already passed that one."
Minutes later, Graves was herded down a tunnel at HSBC Arena to take care of business. I felt bad for him; he looked parched. I examined the box score I was holding, and it said he had played 39 minutes and scored 18 points. More interesting was that, after entering the game as the nation's second-leading free-throw shooter at 95.6 percent, he missed one of his six free throws. Perhaps that raised a red flag.
Stephen Curry scored 30 points to help Davidson give Maryland a scare on Thursday.
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The nightmare scenario was playing out for Maryland. The nation's hottest team from two weeks ago, winners of seven straight to close the ACC regular season, had tanked in the first round in its conference tournament against last-place Miami, and on Thursday at HSBC Arena was flirting with the dubious honor of First Upset Victim in the NCAA tournament.
The fourth-seeded Terps, a team of chiseled, mature-looking ACC athletes, were letting a Davidson freshman with the body of a 13-year-old light them up from every conceivable angle. Stephen Curry, the Doogie Howser of the NCAA tournament, actually turned 19 on Wednesday, and as Wofford coach Mike Young said earlier this week, "scores like he's 28." Curry's pedigree -- he's the son of former NBA gunner Dell Curry -- counteracts his slenderness, as he averaged 21.2 points per game this season and had poured in 23 by the 18:56 mark on the second half on Thursday. He had come out of the break on fire, hitting a 3-pointer in D.J. Strawberry's face, blowing by Strawberry for a layup, and then assisting on a Max Paulhus Gosselin bucket to put the 13th-seeded Wildcats up 52-44 with 17:32 to go. Davidson was knocking on the door of the second round. But would it only be a tease?
For Maryland coach Gary Williams, that stretch -- as well as the backdoor lay-in Curry had scored on late in the first half -- was a continuation of an actual nightmare. The previous evening, Williams had tormented himself by watching an ESPN Classic marathon of first-round upsets that included the UCLA-Princeton game [from 1996]. "I didn't want to sleep last night, so I watched that," Williams said. "I probably should have stopped watching it and watched more Davidson tape."
Most Davidson tape includes prolific scoring performances from Curry, the Charlotte, N.C.-born recruit who didn't get a scholarship offer from his father's alma mater, Virginia Tech -- or any other ACC teams -- and became a mid-major sensation instead. Strawberry, the long-armed lockdown specialist who was assigned to defend him, had said the day before that Curry was "not overly quick." That was obviously not the case early on, and Wildcats fans were yelling, "Hey, Strawberry, do you think he's slow now?"
Complications began to arise in Curry's upset quest, though, just as Davidson had the Terps on the ropes. Maryland pulled off its full-court pressure, which had broken down and given Curry open looks in transition, and went into a traditional halfcourt man-to-man. Strawberry, a senior with the end of his college career looming, rediscovered his defensive mojo at the right time. "I knew that they were going to continue to go to [Curry], and I either had to step it up or he was going to beat us by himself," he said.
As Strawberry -- himself the son of a pro athlete, the ex-Mets slugger Darryl -- picked up the pressure, Curry began to wilt, going 12 minutes and 24 seconds without a basket in the second half. "It was a little frustrating," Curry said of Strawberry's ball-denial D, "because not many people have done that to me all year." The Wildcats fell behind midway through Curry's drought; a layup by Bambale Osby put Maryland up for good at the 9:53 mark, 60-59, and the Terps went on to win 82-70.
Curry fouled out with 21 seconds left, and walked to the Davidson bench, clutching the loose edges of his baggy red jersey, as he so often does during breaks on the floor. He seemed oblivious to the standing ovation he was receiving from the Wildcats crowd, among them his father and mother. The kid, who wears his dad's old number 30, had proven he could play in the ACC; Williams would tell him exactly that in the handshake line. The 30 points Curry scored were little consolation, though, after his Cinderella bid had sputtered out. Player Who Impressed: Bambale Osby, reserve forward, Maryland. The afroed Osby looks like he was cross-pollinated with the DNA of Ben Wallace and Lou Ferrigno, but he's neither as defensively talented as Big Ben or as scary as the Hulk. Enough criticism, though: On Thursday Osby was the unsung hero of the Terps' first-round escape. With starting forward Ekene Ibekwe in foul trouble, Osby came off the bench to score 11 points and grab six rebounds -- 5.2 points and 2.2 rebounds above his average. His back-to-back buckets in the ninth minute of the second half helped alter the momentum of the game. "Bambale has been big in a lot of big games for us," Williams said. "He seems to play the best when we really need him."
Courtside Confidential: With 2:18 left in the first half, the Maryland band broke into a rendition of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. As ubiquitous as that song is right now -- I heard it in on the PA in a grocery store and a CVS earlier this week -- it was a nice break from the standard fight-song fare. ... Davidson fans borrowed from Duke's Terp-taunting playbook, breaking out the Cameron Crazies' "Sweat Gary Sweat" chant on multiple occasions early in the game. Williams appeared to be sweating profusely. ... The last-minute exchange between the Davidson rooting section and Maryland freshman Greivis Vasquez was my personal highlight. The notoriously brash Vasquez, wearing an evil grin, made a gesture toward the fans with his hands that basically said, "bring it on." With the game out of hand, this riled the Wildcat faithful, who shouted such insults as, "No class, Vasquez!," "Did you shave your legs today, 21?" and, in what I think was a reference to Horatio Sanz' idiotic Saturday Night Live character, "Vasquez Vasquez!" Greivis kept on staring at them, showed his palms again, and then fixed his gaze to the scoreboard. Classic.
Big Picture: The Terps looked far from invincible. They may have pulled out a 12-point win, but this still isn't the same team that tore through the ACC -- racking up two wins over Duke and one over North Carolina -- to close the regular season. Thursday's victory was only a moderate step up from the debacle against the Hurricanes in the ACC tournament. While Davidson put up a good fight, the bottom line is that the Terps let a highly inexperienced, one-dimensional mid-major hang around for nearly 35 minutes. A more disciplined and balanced Butler team could give them trouble on Saturday, and unless Williams' boys bring back their February magic, there's little chance of them striking fear into top-seeded Florida in the Sweet 16.