Norfolk State Eyes Second Upset Over Florida

By: Willie Bee | Saturday, March 17, 2012

Brackets got you down?  If so, you have plenty of company.

There is going to be plenty of crying into green beer today when folks take stock of their NCAA Tournament brackets.  An upset-filled Friday saw eight lower seeds win outright, two of them from way down yonder in the 15-hole.

One of those 15-seed winners came here in Omaha where the Norfolk State Spartans wrecked (2) Missouri's excellent season.  The Tigers were seen as a strong Final Four candidate after winning the Big 12 Tournament title en route to a 30-4 record entering March Madness, and seemingly played well enough to win the second-round matchup against the Spartans (52.7% shooting, 13 3's, 8 turnovers).  Breakdowns on defense and a poor game offensively by Kim English proved to be Mizzou's downfall.

It might be small consolation for Missouri, but at least the Tigers have some company to commiserate their early exit with.  Shortly after third-ranked Missouri became just the fifth No. 2 seed to fall in its tourney opener, the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils became the sixth No. 2 seed to do so in a 75-70 loss to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.

The four survivors in Omaha move on to Sunday's third round starting at 6:10 p.m. (ET) on TNT when (7) Florida meets giant-killer Norfolk State.  That game will be followed by (2) Kansas facing (10) Purdue at approximately 8:40 p.m. (ET).  Spreads and totals listed below came from the Don Best odds screen around midday Saturday.

Florida Presents Similar Matchup As Mizzou For Norfolk State
There was some very quick movement on both the side and total when the college basketball betting lines for this game first appeared.  Florida opened as 15-point chalk vs. Norfolk State, but that spread has since dropped to 14-14½.  Conversely, the total jumped a bucket to 143 after beginning at 141.

Billy Donovan's Gators pulled away from Virginia with a big second half in Friday's second round.  Florida took an 8-point lead over the Cavaliers into the locker room, and closed the second half on a 26-13 push for the 71-45 victory as slight 2½-point favorites.  Shortly after the end of that game, Donovan made his way back into CenturyLink Center, presumably to jot down some notes on Missouri.

He can throw those scouting reports away now with Norfolk State the Gators' next opponent.  The Spartans used a dominant big man inside, Kyle O'Quinn (26 points, 14 rebounds), plus 20-point efforts from Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams to shock Mizzou 86-84 as 21-point underdogs.  The upset was reportedly picked by just two of the nearly 6.5 million bracket entries in ESPN's contest.

Norfolk State head coach Anthony Evans didn't spend much time scouting opponents past Missouri, so he'll be catching up on the Gators Saturday.  What he'll find is another guard-heavy lineup that likes to shoot the three, much like the Tigers presented.

Boilermakers Collide With Jayhawks In Prime-Time
Purdue and Kansas will be meeting for the third time in the NCAA Tournament, and fifth time ever, when they take the floor in Omaha.  The previous four matchups and two tourney games have been split – the Boilermakers winning in the '94 Sweet 16 and Jayhawks prevailing in the '97 Round of 32 – and the oddsmakers like KU to take the overall series lead in Sunday's game after installing Bill Self's squad as 8-point chalk.  The total has been set at 141.

Matt Painter's Boilermakers just about choked away their chance to get to this game when they coughed up a 10-point advantage over (7) Saint Mary's in the final six minutes on Friday.  The Gaels clawed back to take a 69-68 lead with under a minute to play before late free throws by Lewis Jackson and Robbie Hummel helped Purdue to the mild 72-69 upset as a 2-point 'dog.

Depending when you bought your ticket in the SMC-Purdue match, it was either the eighth consecutive 'over' for a Boilermakers contest or just missed reaching the 141½-point closing barrier.  Purdue was 20-10 to the high side entering Friday's tilt.

The 'over' had been trending in Kansas games coming into the tourney, with five of the previous seven jumping the mark.  Friday's 65-50 victory vs. Detroit never came close to the 143-point total, however, and the final margin had just enough to cover the 13½-point spread Jayhawks backers were giving up.

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