SportsPulse: Purdue Vs. Tennessee immediately became a classic, but did not end without controversy. Trysta Krick of USA TODAY breaks the action on Thursday and gives an overview of the games of the Friday.
Four teams are in the elite eight after another day of March Madness. Here is a look at the four biggest expirations of Sweet's 16-Action on Thursday:
1. Virginia fell silent doubters. The Salvation Tour of the Cavaliers continues. The # 1 cavaliers who harnessed Maryland-Baltimore County # 16's historic confusion in March of this year as motivation for this year's tournament thwarted the banning of No. 12 Oregon's 53-49 and advanced to elite eight. Ty Jerome (13 points, six assists) from Virginia, who remained the crucial three-point with 3:33, called the "ugly" defense battle a "dogfight".
"But it survives and moves forward," Jerome said after the win.
The Cavs and their nationally leading defense meet Purdue on Saturday and have the chance for the program's first Final Four since 1984. As good as the Cavs were under Bennett's tutelage, they have not reached the NCAA tournament – only to another Elite Eight (2016), even though they have taken first place in three of the last five years. UVA not only rewrites the script to its heartbreaker in 2018, but does what the respected Bennett teams failed to do. If ever a team's X-Factor was clearer, UVA proves skeptics are wrong. It was like that all season. In November, Jerome told TODAY Sports of the UMBC Lost Narrative, "We hear that we're all cracked, I'd like to silence them."
Virginia Guards Kyle Guy (5) With guard Kihei Clark (0) and striker Mamadi Diakite (25), the first half of the semifinals of the South cuddle against the Oregon Ducks. (Photo: Thomas J. Russo, USA TODAY Sports)
2. Texas Tech can win the whole thing. The Red Raiders participated on Thursday with the best defensive performance of all Sweet 16 teams ( ratings adjusted for KenPoms). And, boy, in the first half against Michigan, Texas Tech has stifled the Wolverines' attacks to a 16-point NCAA tournament record. The second half did not get much better. Michigan did not make a three-pointer until 24 seconds before the end of the day, finishing 1-19 in the lead. Texas Tech's 63-44 victory may have been a bad night for Michigan. But there was also a statement about how good the team of coach Chris Beard is. Jarrett Culver (22 points) and this group not only reach the Final Four – defeating the country's leading criminal offense in Gonzaga – but it has proven to be good enough to crush the networks in Minneapolis.
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3. Purdue is more than Carsen Edwards. Boilermaker's 99-94 overtime win over Tennessee can be measured in several phases. In the first half, Purdue's offense in the half-court went smoothly and his defense kept Tennessee out of the paint to build a 40-28 halftime cushion. In the second half, Ryan Cline saw a barrage of jumpers and while the volunteers rushed back to clear the deficit, it was Cline's three-point shooting that saved Purdue from collapsing and losing momentum. By the time he was riding in OT, his performance – 27 points in 7:10 three-point shooting – had positioned the Boilermakers to survive.
Big Ten top scorer Edwards finished 29 points, six overtime, and scored the free throws to force OT. However, the biggest draw in the second half was that Purdue has a player other than Edwards to counter blows from an opponent.
Purdue Boilermakers guard Ryan Cline (14) and Guard Carsen Edwards (3) respond to their successes Win the Tennessee Volunteers during overtime. (Photo: Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports)
4. Brandon Clarke is the differentiator for Gonzaga in Sweet 16 Rematch. In a postgame interview on CBS after Zagag's 72:58 victory over Florida State coach Mark Few said he had not considered Thursday's victory after Sweet 16 hit the last year Seminoles revenge (FSU eliminated Gonzaga the same round last year). However, he recognized a major difference in his team's DNA this year: Brandon Clarke. The catalyst of Gonzaga's victory in the second round against Baylor (Clarke had 36 points and five blocks in that win), the 6-8 attacker had 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks to help the Bulldogs out against the Greatness of the FSU and against athletics to fight back and fend off late rally attempts with its meaningful games on the edge – at both ends. While Rui Hachimura is All-American for this team, Clarke showed he is the much needed backbone of the Zags.
Follow USA TODAY Sports & # 39; s Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson .
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