The inevitable NCAA Basketball Tournament upheaval has begun, with eighth seed Butler having knocked off top-seeded Pitt in a wild finish last night in the Southeast region.
Sunday's schedule has some intriguing matchups that will having you falling into a deep depression once the games are over, and you have to slog through another work week until the next round.
-Ohio State Buckeyes vs. George Mason Patriots - OSU was expectedly dominant in their first tournament game, and the Patriots made some clutch shots down the stretch to knock off Villanova. If GMU has any Cinderella still laying around in their guts, now would be the time to find it. The winner gets Kentucky in the Sweet 16.
-Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Syracuse Orangemen - Marquette's reward for knocking off sixth-seeded Xavier is a date with Big East Conference rival Syracuse, whom the Golden Eagles beat 76-70 in their only regular-season meeting on January 29th. The winner advances to the Sweet 16 and will face the winner of Washington vs. North Carolina.
-Washington Huskies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels - Carolina rolled over Long Island in the previous round, and the Huskies won a hard-fought contest over Georgia. Washington is on a roll after winning the Pac-10 tournament, besting Arizona in the final. Winner gets whoever advances between Marquette and Syracuse.
-Duke Blue Devils vs. Michigan Wolverines - Current players for both programs will have a chance to take the recent off-court "fight" between these two programs to the hardwood today. No word on whether or not Jalen Rose and Grant Hill will slapfight at halftime. Duke shouldn't have much trouble with Michigan, but the Wolverines will be playing with a lot of confidence after their ruthless thirty-point beatdown of Tennessee in the second round. The winner will take on whoever comes out on top between Texas and Arizona in the Sweet 16.
-Arizona Wildcats vs. Texas Longhorns - The Longhorns will make the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in ten years if they are able to overcome the Wildcats, who were able to get by a very game Memphis team in the second round. The 'Horns will have their hands full with Arizona star Derrick Williams in this one. If Duke holds up their end by taking care of Michigan, it will create a very attractive Duke vs. Arizona/Texas matchup next week.
-Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Kansas Jayhawks - Kansas of course dominated their first game against Boston University, while Illinois got past UNLV. The Jayhawks' highly-ranked offense should see them through against a tough Illinois team. The Richmond Spiders await the winner in the Sweet 16.
-Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Purdue Boilermakers - As one of the "First Four" teams, VCU has already won two tournament games. They defeated USC and followed that up by slapping Georgetown around the court on Friday. Purdue cruised past St. Peter's in the previous round, and figures to end VCU's run behind the strength of their tough defense. Today's victor will face the winner between Florida State and Notre Dame.
-Florida State Seminoles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish - The Seminoles uglied their way to a 57-51 win over Texas A&M on Friday, their first March Madness win since 1998. Notre Dame took out Akron in the second round, giving them a school record 27 wins for the season. Of note, these two big-name programs have never met on the basketball court. The Seminoles' defense probably won't be enough to get them by Notre Dame. The winner gets VCU or Purdue in the Sweet 16.