Oh, Gonzaga. You were our last, best hope. Sure, Michigan State's now the overwhelming sentimental favorite going into next weekend's Final Four, but they're still a Power 5 traditionalist with titles under their belt. But you, Gonzaga... well, it's probably not your fault. When evil has authority on its side, whet can you do but succumb?
The early game, though, was one for the books. Louisville and Michigan State scrapped hard, matching one another blow for blow right up until the final minute of overtime, when Sparty was able to extend the lead and salt away the victory. As much as we sometimes like sports to be have an underlying good-vs-evil narrative, this game was a different sort of fun: two really good teams which, outside their respective rivalries, are generally respected playing a hotly-contested thriller. It was a great two-plus hours.
Results, with green linked recaps courtesy our friends around the SB Nation college network. Note that The Only Colors has copious post-game content, but no traditional game recap.
|NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S TOURNAMENT|
|SF||(7) Michigan State 76, (4) Louisville 70 (OT)||Wayne Blackshear (LOU), 28|
|SF||(1) Duke 66, (2) Gonzaga 52||three players, 16|
There is only one men's basketball game this fine Monday: the first game of the best-of-three CBI Championship Series, pitting the Sun Belt's Louisiana-Monroe against Loyola (IL), the Missouri Valley's most-recent addition. The Ramblers of Loyola are seeking their first big trophy since winning the NCAA Tournament way back in 1963, which is before pretty much any of you were born. Except Furnace.
|COLLEGE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES|
|GAME 1||7:00pm||(S2) Louisiana-Monroe||vs||(MW1) Loyola (IL)||Chicago IL||CBSSN||PBP> Michael Reghi
Color: John Griffin
Sunday's action started with a thriller in Greensboro. South Carolina and Florida State didn't just somehow get to overtime. Florida State built up a nine-point lead in the first half, but South Carolina had reeled that back to a one-possession game by the two-minute mark. The Seminoles again stretched the lead out early in the second half, leading by as much as seven, but again the Gamecocks pulled them back in; an Alaina Coates layup with 11:12 to go again brought South Carolina within one score, and from that point exactly 46 seconds passed with one team leading by more than three points. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, Those 46 seconds all took place after Tiffany Mitchell popped a three with 1:21 to go, giving the top-seeded Gamecocks a five-point lead. The Seminoles were never able to tie the game up again. The Seminoles were led by (sorry, Jon just had a stroke and can't finish that sentence).
Moving on. The late game saw the official exit of the Big 12 from any chance at winning an NCAA basketball title this year. Baylor led by eight midway through the first half, but except for a brief moment midway through the second when the Bears again eked out a one-point advantage it was all Irish the rest of the way. Three separate times in the second half, Notre Dame held Baylor scoreless for three minute stretches. Despite that, Baylor was within four points until Madison Cable hit a jumper with 1:01 to go; a Brianna Turner block of a Niya Johnson layup attempt 20 seconds later all but sealed the win. Notre Dame will thus be the only team in both Final Fours this year. That is terrible, like Lex Luthor taking 40 cakes.
There is still one Big 12 team still playing basketball. Hats off to the West Virginia Mountaineers, who survived in overtime against Villanova to advance to the WNIT semifinals. On Wednesday they'll host Temple, who raced out to an early lead over Middle Tennessee State and made it stick despite a 15-0 MTSU run at the start of the second half. The other semifinal on Wednesday will involve Michigan and UCLA, both of whom breezed to victory last night.
The second Division I team to claim a dubious national championship this spring: the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. The Cajuns led or were tied for all but 55 seconds of the first half, and were up by as much as 14 midway through the second. But Siena started shaving points off that lead, going on an 18-3 run which saw the Saints finally retake the lead with just under two minutes to play. Robbie Brown saved the day for the Fleur de Lis, though. She sank a three with 76 seconds to play, and with Siena angling for the final shot to send the game to overtime, Brown swiped the ball with five seconds to go to seal the deal.
|NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT|
|FINAL||(1) South Carolina 80, Florida State 74||Tiffany Mitchell (USC), 21|
|OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL|
|FINAL||(1) Notre Dame 77, (2) Baylor 68||Nina Davis (BAY), 26|
|WOMEN'S NATIONAL INVITATION TOURNAMENT|
|QF||West Virginia 75, Villanova 70 (OT)||Emily Leer (VIL), 29|
|QF||Michigan 69, Southern Mississippi 60||Jeronday Clemons (USM), 18|
|QF||Temple 69, Middle Tennessee State 57||Olivia Jones (MTSU), 24|
|QF||UCLA 82, Saint Mary's (CA) 66||Lauren Nicholson (SMC), 23|
|WOMEN'S BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME|
|FINAL||Louisiana-Lafayette 52, Siena 50||Keke Veal (ULL), 20|
The other half of the women's Final Four gets settled this evening. As much as we fell in love with Dayton on Saturday, it's pretty obvious Connecticut's going to be moving on. (But we'll hope. And pray. A lot.) The late game, on the other hand, could be a classic as Tennessee faces top seed Maryland. Can at least one of the Final Four have something other than a (1) before their name? We'll find out tonight. The schedule:
|NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT|
|FINAL||6:00pm||(7) Dayton||vs||(1) Connecticut||Albany NY||ESPN||PBP: Dave O'Brien
Color: Doris Burke
SLR: Holly Rowe
|FINAL||8:00pm||(2) Tennessee||vs||(1) Maryland||Spokane WA||ESPN||PBP: Dave Pasch
Color: Deb Antonelli
SLR: Allison Williams