The Elite Eight is now set, with none of tonight's games offering anything in the way of drama. In addition to that, only Xavier's overtime win last night gave viewers a final margin of fewer than ten points. Davidson was the surprise of the evening, defeating Wisconsin in shockingly easy fashion to move on to Sunday's Midwest Region final where they will meet the Kansas Jayhawks. In the South, top seeds Memphis and Texas took care of business to move on to Sunday's final in Houston. Now here are some honors for Friday's action.
Team of the Night: #1 Memphis
Result: Defeated #5 Michigan State 92-71 in a South Regional semifinal.
If the pundits continue to peg the Tigers as the first one seed to fall then eventually they should get it right. But a good way to make sure foul shooting doesn't have an impact on the game is to take out your opponent early, and this is exactly what John Calipari's team did, taking a 50-20 halftime lead into the locker room. Derrick Rose was unstoppable on this night, going for a team (and career) high twenty-seven points. And the defensive work put in by the likes of Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts (among others) on Spartan stars Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan was a sight to behold.
If you're a fan of the other three top seeds, then the experts finally being right will mean that you're team is on its way to San Antonio since Memphis is playing the late game on Sunday. But those experts are running out of opportunities to get this one right.
Player of the Night: Stephen Curry (Davidson)
Numbers: 33 points, 4 assists in Davidson's 73-56 win over Wisconsin in a Midwest Regional semifinal.
I seriously considered putting backcourt partner Jason Richards in this spot (11 points, 13 assists), but Curry's night was amazing. Clearly the top line in any team's scouting report by this point, the sophomore guard still went for 30-plus while hititng half of his shots. You think about some of the great individual performances throughout an NCAA Tournament and names like Glen Rice and Danny Manning immediately come to mind. Mr. Curry may be well on his way to joining those ranks if he hasn't already. Kansas will pose quite a challenge with their perimeter depth, but I wouldn't be stunned if Stephen put together another virtuoso performance on Sunday.
Davidson guard Jason Richards
As I mentioned earlier, the senior put up a double-double and controlled the flow of the game throughout for the Wildcats, who head to their first regional final since 1969.
Memphis guard Derrick Rose
27 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists for the freshman point guard. For all the talk about freshmen guards in BCS conferences, Rose is the one still playing. But given his game, not a surprise at all.
Texas guard D.J. Augustin
23 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists for Augustin, a man who Stanford had no answer for all night. His matchup with Rose on Sunday will be an entertaining one for sure.
West Region final: #3 Xavier vs. #1 UCLA (6:40 PM EST)
East Region final: #3 Louisville vs. #1 North Carolina (9:05 PM EST)
If possible, check out the Division II National Championship between Winona State and Augusta State (2:30 PM EST, CBS). Last year's game featured a finish for the ages, with Barton coming back from a seven-point deficit with forty-five seconds remaining to pull out the win at the buzzer. Last year's victim: Winona State. I'm sure there will be at least one mention of last year's game, but it's good to see Winona State back with a chance to win it all.