Arriving at the Elite Eight
Fourth seed CSU, Eastbay put on a shooting clinic in the second half, including a 9-for-12 performance from 3-point range, to storm past Rivier 92-82 and eliminate my call to win it all from the tournament. Terry Valentine had 25 points to lead the way for Eastbay, which scored 56 points in the second-half to pull off the mild stunner. Eastbay advances to face 3-seed Penn St. Altoona, which halted Sewanee's march through the brackets, 67-49. It was all about the shooting in this contest, namely the fact that PSA hit 55 percent from the floor while Sewanee was connecting at less than 35 percent. PSA and CSU-E did not face off during the regular season.
Jonathan Johnson scored 33 points to single-handedly keep Cinderella Emory alive in the tournament with a 62-54 win over previously unbeaten Illinois Wesleyan. If defense wins championships, then it's getting difficult to ignore Emory. This marks the third time in three national tournament games that Emory has held its opponent to in the 50s for scoring. Also impressive was the fact the team went a perfect 14-for-14 at the charity stripe against IW and only turned the ball over eight times in the contest. Next up for this 12 seed terror is defending national champion Defiance, which lambasted Millsaps in the rematch of last year's national title game, 83-54. Much like Eastbay uncorked a whopper of a second half, so too did Defiance, which hit 16-of-27 from the floor after the break to storm away from a six-point halftime cushion. Emory and Defiance will be meeting for the first time this season.
Top-seed -- holy cow, there's still a top seed alive??!? -- Buena Vista moves into the Elite Eight with a 68-63 win over Hardin Simmons. Hardin Simmons led by 11 with 11 minutes to play, and was still up by seven with less than three minutes to go, but depth looked like it might have played a factor as Buena Vista closes the game on a 12-0 run. Now they'll get an intriguing meeting with 10-seed UMass Dartmouth. UMD smothered Susquehanna 68-41 in its Sweet 16 meeting, holding Susquehanna to less than 29 percent shooting from the floor and causing zeuspole to mutter something about burning the game film in his postgame presser. Richard Ross had 22 points for UMD, which also owned a +9 advantage on the rebounding glass for the game. Like the above games, the Elite Eight pairing between Buena Vista and UMass, Dartmouth will be a first-time encounter this season.
Fourth-seeded Louisiana built a first half lead and then kept it near 10 points throughout much of the second half of a 71-63 win over Emmanuel. Emmanuel never got closer than four points after trailing 27-21 at the break. Now they'll get 2-seed Johnson & Wales, which was having nothing to do with the high octane offense of Dickinson, slamming that door in decisive 93-64 fashion. It was a bad night for Dickinson's starting guard pair -- the tandem saw just a combined 17 minutes of floor time as fouls kept them shackled to the pine for much of the night. Johnson & Wales broke away from an eight-point halftime lead quickly in the second half to roll. This Elite Eight pairing against Louisiana is a rematch of a non-conference game from earlier in the year. JW defeated Louisiana 69-52 in that encounter.