Are we headed for another sibling rivalry to settle a major sports championship? Everyone remembers the Harbaugh Brothers going it in the Super Bowl following the 2012 NFL season when John’s Baltimore Ravens nipped Jim’s San Francisco 49ers. Now the 2014 NCAA Tournament has two brothers still coaching and both took their teams to the regional finals last night. It’s the Millers, Sean leading Arizona and Archie heading up Dayton that have their eyes on meeting in the NCAA final. Here’s a recap on their wins, along with the rest of Thursday in the Sweet 16…
Florida 79 UCLA 68: The Gators continue to be the tormenter of UCLA, eliminating the Bruins from the field for the fourth time in the last nine years. Florida’s done in UCLA in a national final (2006), and a national semifinal (2007), the opening weekend (2011) and now in the Sweet 16.
Last night’s game was a good one, though you had always had the sense Florida had UCLA at arm’s length. The Bruins couldn’t buy a three-pointer (3-for-18), while the Gators shot 50 percent from the floor. And Florida cleaned up on the boards, a 40-30 advantage, thanks to reserve guard Kasey Hall chasing own ten. Michael Frazier scored 19 points, keyed by five treys to lead the offense.
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Dayton 82 Stanford 72: I continue to be baffled at how Dayton keeps getting it done. Stanford got a balanced scoring effort from their starting lineup and Chasson Randle scored 21. The Flyers got 18 from Jordan Sibert, but no one else really stood out. I guess I shouldn’t’ be mystified—it’s this little thing called team play that Dayton is mastering, including on defense, where they held Stanford to 38 percent from the floor.
Florida and Dayton will settle a Final Four spot on Saturday. Tip-off from Memphis is Saturday at 6:09 PM ET and on TBS.
Arizona 70 San Diego State 64: In a really good game, the Aztecs gave the Wildcats all they could handle. Xavier Thames scored 25 points, and Josh Davis pulled down 14 rebounds to key control of the glass for San Diego State. Their defense forced Nick Johnson into 2-for-12 shooting. But Arizona turned it to an opportunity to demonstrate true championship-quality, and it’s by winning against a good team on a night things aren’t going your way.
As it has all year, it starts with defense, and Arizona forced San Diego State into 38 percent from the floor. Aaron Gordon was able to produce down low with 15 points. T.J. McConnell chipped in 11 in the backcourt, and Rondae-Hollis Jefferson came off the bench to score 15 more.
Wisconsin 69 Baylor 52: Regular readers of TheSportsNotebook know I’m a Badger fan, and when I was at the gym yesterday playing hoops, I was talking to a friend and expressing hope that all the momentum Baylor built up on opening weekend would dissipate now that they’d gone back to campus, gotten patted on the rear end and told how great they were. From my perspective, it couldn’t have worked out any better.
Wisconsin dominated this game every which way, no one more so than Frank Kaminsky, who scored 19 points and repeatedly took control of the ball on the inside of the Baylor zone and either went strong to the rim or kicked it out for good looks. Then Kaminsky must have channeled his inner Patrick Ewing, because he blocked six shots on top of it.
Baylor scored only 16 points in the first half. After intermission, they seemed to realize they had players who could consistently score off the dribble and got several easy baskets in the half-court, but between starting too late and then not showing consistent effort on defense, it didn’t amount to anything.
It’ll be a Wisconsin-Arizona on Saturday for the Final Four. The game from Anaheim will be the second of the TBS doubleheader and tip at roughly at 8:49 PM ET.
Sweet 16 action continues Friday in the East and Midwest Regionals. TheSportsNotebook’s NCAA Tournament coverage will have previews of those brackets up in the late morning/early afternoon today.