It was a pretty poor pair of games CBS gave the Washington D.C. area last night. Not that it was the network's fault. I got the two I wanted to see, they just didn't live up to expectations.
In the first game, Pittsburgh continued its apparent quest to be the first one seed to head home, only to be foiled once again by their opponent. Xavier had an eight point halftime lead that evaporated in 6:14 scoring drought once play resumed. The Musketeers only managed 18 points in the entire second half, and it wasn't due to Pitt's defensive prowess. Both teams played ugly, ugly basketball, but Levance Fields' last minute of play, with an arcing three that had no business going in and a late steal to seal the game gives us another twenty minutes of this thing Yinzers call basketball. Lucky us.
As for Duke-Villanova, the Blue Devils met a team that could outrun their odd, all three-point shooting team, and they handled it very poorly. Facing a more athletic team, Duke responded with stupid fouls, poor shooting and frustrated play. Gerald Henderson stood listlessly more than I've seen all season, when he wasn't banished to the bench with foul trouble. Kyle Singler's missed threes left no one underneath to rebound, Nolan Smith and Lance Thomas contributed little but petulant fouls, and Brian Zoubek was left to be a bright point in Duke's game.
Brian Zoubek should never be a bright point.
And for all the praise Krzyzewski (and Paulus) gets for benching Paulus, he reverts to his senior guard quite a lot, such as the first half of the second UNC game. Sure enough, with the game slipping away early in the second half and Duke down 12, Paulus was given the reins, and promptly through the ball away, turned it over, and then fouled the guy who just picked his pocket. Thus endeth the Paulus era at Duke.
However, if SIngler puts half the effort into improving his game as he does debating the refs, they could be a good team next year. As it stands, UNC is now the ACC's lone hope, again.