The remaining eight spots in the Sweet 16 were on the line in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament action, and two national title favorites got two different types of scares. North Carolina beat Creighton, but on the same day they got PF John Henson (13 pts, 10 rebs, 4 blks) back from a wrist injury, they lost PG Kendall Marshall to a fracture in his right wrist. Marshall (18 pts, 11 asts) is left-handed, so it’s possible he could pull a Lazarus Sims and gut it out, but don’t underestimate how much that injury will impact his dribbling and passing, not to mention defense, keeping defenders at bay with his off-arm, etc. … Someone knocking out Georgetown came just a round too late. After many actually thought the Hoyas might lose in the first round, they went out and were handled in the second half of their three-point loss against N.C. State. Hollis Thompson‘s 23 points couldn’t withstand the Wolfpack, who had three guys all score 14 … Among others, Florida dominated Norfolk State, Michigan State barely survived Saint Louis and Ohio continued their Cinderella run with a six-point win over South Florida … And the kid who saved Kansas’ season was barely in their rotation last year, and had scored just five points in the first half. But Elijah Johnson is playing like someone who expects to quickly become a household name in college basketball. He had 18 points in their 63-60 comeback win against Purdue, and was key in three game-deciding plays. Kansas didn’t grab the lead until 37 minutes of game clock were gone. After a big block on one end, Johnson caught a pass from NBA three-point range, and let loose a dagger, putting the Jayhawks up one. Purdue came right back and retook the lead on a floater in the lane, but Johnson soon came up with a rebound and found Tyshawn Taylor with a perfect alley-oop with only seconds left on the clock. On the following possession, he finished his end-game run with a steal and a layup. The Boilermakers’ Ryne Smith nearly hit a shot off the glass at the buzzer that would’ve tied it, but alas we’ve finally seen the end of college basketball’s Van Wilder, Robbie Hummel. Purdue’s best player walked off the court fighting back tears after he blew up for 26 points … We know it’s a major longshot, but can you imagine if Cincinnati and Xavier wound up playing for the national championship? It could be the first college basketball game ever played in an Octagon … We’re out like Derek Fisher Rockets jerseys.
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