by Jim Buzzerd
The first weekend of March Madness never fails to deliver epic upsets and this year was no different. For the first time ever a 16 seed beat a one seed when UMBC knocked off the top overall seed Virginia Friday night. It wasn’t close either as UMBC won the game 74-54.
Another Friday upset set up a West Virginia-Marshall matchup as the 13th seeded Herd beat four seed Wichita State 81-75. The Mountaineers took care of Murray State 85-68 to set up the game with in state rival Marshall with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. West Virginia fell behind early, but the Mountaineers came roaring back to lead by 17 at halftime and took home a 94-71 win after leading by as much as 30 points in the second half.
WVU will face Villanova in Boston this Friday night with the winner advancing to the Elite Eight. Game time is 7:27 p.m. and will be televised by TBS.
Jevon Carter continued to demonstrate why he is one of the best all-around guards in college basketball. The senior scored 28 points, handed out five assists, grabbed four rebounds and made five steals to lead West Virginia. Carter will need to continue his elevated play if the Mountaineers are to knock off the Wildcats.
West Virginia is returning to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in its last 12 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1998, and its fifth under Huggins and third in the last four years.
The revival of the old Capital Classic 2,300 miles west of Charleston looked like it might be a down-to-the-wire affair until Carter took over the game. He made 10-of-18 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from 3 and harassed Marshall’s best player, Jon Elmore, into committing eight turnovers and going just 4-of-12 from the floor for 15 points – seven below his season average.
According to the TBS research crew during tonight’s telecast, Carter is the first player since Allen Iverson to score 28 points, generate five steals and hand out five assists in an NCAA Tournament game.
“My teammates do an unbelievable job of getting me open,” Carter said. “I come off a lot of screens. I just play within the game – I let the game come to me.”
“That’s typical,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, now 13-8 in NCAA Tournament games at WVU, said of his All-America guard. “That’s why he was the National Defensive Player of the Year a year ago and probably will be this year. He shattered our steals (record) both in the season and career. He’s had a phenomenal career. You have to understand how hard he works to appreciate Jevon Carter. He’s the hardest-working guy I think I’ve ever had.”
The WVU-Villanova winner gets the winner of Purdue-Texas Tech on Sunday for the right to go to the Final Four. Could it possibly be an all Big 12 final with WVU meeting Texas Tech for the fourth time this season? That is probably a bit of a long shot as both WVU and Texas Tech are underdogs.