The looks on their faces seemed to be more of relief than elation. Pegged as one of two overwhelming favorites in October (North Carolina being the other), and the prohibitive favorite entering the NCAA tournament, a season without a national title would have been a disappointment for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The first full day of action in the NCAA tournament didn't produce the number of surprises that many fans both expected and wanted, with just two lower-seeded teams advancing to Saturday's action. While one should come as no surprise to the country the other finds itself carrying the banner for an entire conference...in its first season in the league. Here are the key happenings by location, highlighted by wins for Colorado (Albuquerque) and VCU (Portland).
After the wild doubleheader that took place at UD Arena on Tuesday night college basketball fans were due for a letdown. That's exactly what happened on Wednesday as Vermont and USF won their games in comfortable fashion, paring the field down to 64 teams.
For all the talk about how unwatchable the First Four games in Dayton would be, how it's not "part of the tournament', Tuesday turned out to be an exciting and historical day. Both games featured thrilling comebacks, with Western Kentucky and BYU now headed to Louisville for games against Kentucky and Marquette respectively. In attendance for some of the action were President Barack Obama and David Cameron, who as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was the president's guest in Dayton.
The story of realignment is a tired yet necessary one, given the many changed that have altered the landscape of collegiate athletics in recent years. But with a team that's slated to leave the Big East soon the prohibitive favorite to win the Big East Championship, it was two teams who will remain in the league that stole center stage. Cincinnati will make their first-ever Big East title game appearance, taking on Louisville in another edition of a rivalry that goes all the way back to the days of the old Metro Conference. The times, they are a-changin'.
Thursday turned into a day of missed opportunities for a number of bubble teams across the country, and the Pac-12 may be in danger of being a one-bid league as a result of two results that bookended the day in Los Angeles. Top-seed Washington dropped a tough 86-84 decision to nine-seed Oregon State and poor foul shooting for both teams played a role in the finish.
Wednesday shaped up as a big day at Madison Square Garden, as four of the eight teams in action were looking to boost their respective NCAA tournament resumes. Two of the four teams, Connecticut and West Virginia, kicked things off in a tight contest that neither team led by more than eleven points (WVU). And while there were plenty of head-scratching decisions made down the stretch by both teams, Jim Calhoun's Huskies were the ones best able to navigate those issues, winning 71-67 in overtime to advance to Thursday's quarterfinals.