(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Xavier: South Region
1. BYU survived a pesky San Diego squad to advance to the WCC semifinals.
A win over San Diego wasn't going to do a whole lot for BYU from a resume standpoint. Sure the Cougars would pick up a 25th win on the season, but a loss would have had a much larger impact on their NCAA tournament hopes than a win. That's what made the return of Noah Hartsock so important, given how much the Cougars struggled with the pesky Toreros.
One of the first things a team has to do when taking on Notre Dame is defend the three-point line, because even though the Irish shoot just 32.8% from beyond the arc they rely on the shot a great deal. According to statsheet.com Notre Dame scores 29.4% of its points on three-point shots, a number that ranks third in the Big East behind Cincinnati and Seton Hall. Georgetown knew what they had to limit on Monday night and they did so, getting out to the Notre Dame shooters and limiting them to 3-for-17 in the 59-41 win.
The current era of college sports means that fans have become used to conference foes meeting for the first time in a season in late February, as is the case with #18 Notre Dame (20-9, 12-4) visiting #8 Georgetown (21-6, 11-5) on Monday night. Both teams lost games in the tri-state area over the last five days with the Hoyas getting blown out at Seton Hall and Notre Dame losing at St. John's on Saturday, but these are still teams that can make noise in New York next week.
In the first meeting between #18 Notre Dame and West Virginia the Fighting Irish didn't get going until late, when three three-pointers pushed them past the Mountaineers in Morgantown. Mike Brey's team got going offensively much sooner in the rematch, as a two-point lead at the half turned into a 71-44 whipping, moving their win streak to nine. This marks the first time in school history that the Irish have won nine straight Big East games, and by the game this young team has the look of a group that can make some noise next month.
With first place on the line in Columbus the expectation was that #11 Michigan State and #3 Ohio State would play a tight, physical affair. And that's exactly what it was, with the visitors from East Lansing seeming to be the more comfortable of the two teams in the first half. Michigan State shot 46.9% from the field but the reason for their 35-25 lead at the half was their defense, as they limited Ohio State to 33.3% and forced eight turnovers.
There have been some thrilling comebacks in the history of the Duke/North Carolina rivalry, but surprisingly there haven't been many games that have been decided at the buzzer. Wednesday night's game in Chapel Hill wasn't a case of "down eight with 17 seconds to go" as it was in meetings in 1974 (UNC with the comeback and win) and 1995 (Duke with the comeback but UNC ended up winning), but with the Tar Heels up ten (80-70) with 3:35 remaining one would expect them to win.