The regional semifinals of the 2011 NCAA tournament, better known as the Sweet 16, begin this evening, Thursday March 24th, at four different venues across the country. The first match up of the night is in the West region, where Kemba Walker and the No. 3 seed Connecticut Huskies take on a physical San Diego State squad. The next game tips off just 15 minutes later in the Southeast region, and features Jimmer Fredette and No. 3 BYU against the No. 2 seed Florida. The two late games are No. 8 Butler vs No. 4 Wisconsin, and No. 5 seed Arizona against Nolan Smith and No. 1 seed Duke.
No. 3 West seed Connecticut won the first game, beating SDSU 74-67 behind 36 points from their star Kemba Walker. It was a close game throughout, but Walker asserted himself with four minutes to go and the Huskies pulled away. No. 2 Southeast seed Florida beat Jimmer Fredette and No. 3 BYU 83-74 in OT in another exciting game. Alex Tyus was the leading scorer and the leading rebounder for the Gators with 19 points and 17 boards.
(3) BYU 74
(2) Florida 83
The No. 2 seed Gators finally figured out how to slow down Jimmer Fredette in overtime, and pulled away to beat No. 3 seed BYU 83-74 in their Sweet 16 match up. The Cougar’s Fredette was brilliant as usual with 32 points and five assists in the game, but was held scoreless in OT. Alex Tyus was the leading scorer for Florida with 19 points and a mind-boggling 17 rebounds as the Seminoles dominated the paint. Florida racked up 42 total team rebounds and had five blocked shots in the contest. The Gators advance to the Southeast regional final where they will play either No. 8 Butler or No. 4 Wisconsin.
(8) Butler 61
(4) Wisconsin 54
The amazing Butler Bulldogs do it again. These Bulldogs can just plain play some D. They shut down a physical Wisconsin Badger squad en route to a 61-54 win and a berth in the Elite 8 against No. 2 seed Florida. Matt Howard was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs with 20 points.
(3) Connecticut 74
(2) San Diego St 67
The Huskies came on strong late in the first half to break open a close game and defeat the Aztecs 74-67. Kemba Walker had a magnificent game, scoring 36 points, including 22 in the second half when Connecticut made its move to surge past San Diego State. Huskies freshman Jeremy Lamb chipped in 24 points, and D.J. Gay was the leading scorer for the Aztecs with 16 points. Connecticut advances to the Elite 8 to play either Duke or Arizona.
(5) Arizona 93
(1) Duke 77
No. 5 Arizona exploded in the second half to smash the defending NCAA champion Blue Devils 94-77 and advance to play Connecticut in the regional final. Derrick Williams was positively awesome for the Wildcats with 32 points, 25 of those in the first half.
For more on college basketball and the 2011 NCAA tournament see:
Sweet 16 – Preview of 2011 NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinals
2011 NCAA Sweet 16 Preview and Prediction – Ohio State Vs Kentucky
Sweet 16 Predictions & Preview – 2011 NCAA West – Duke vs Arizona