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Like we didn’t know that.



Of course, not everybody gets to pick which jersey they wear where. That begins the tale of how Miami Heat forward Shane Battier learned his beloved Duke Blue Devils became the second No. 15 seed to fall to a No. 2 on a wild night.

Lehigh did the deed to his alma mater in Greensboro, N.C., an upset that might have been trumpeted even louder if No. 15 Norfolk State hadn’t dropped this pearl _ “Missouri Loves Company _ in the laps of headline writers everywhere by stunning the second-ranked Tigers earlier. Even so, the always-considerate Philadelphia fans made sure Battier had plenty of misery for company, too.

While their 76ers battled Battier’s Heat team down the stretch _ unsuccessfully, as it turned out _ they kept him abreast of the goings-on in the Duke-Lehigh game some 450 miles to the south. Knowing their long memories and reputation for brutality _ back in the day, violence during Eagles games prompted the city fathers to set up a court and a jail inside the old Veterans Stadium _ Battier was reluctant afterward to repeat any of the blow-by-blow descriptions.

“The Philly faithful were very kind to give me updates the whole time,” he said finally, “in the way only Philly fans can.”



Can VCU get past Indiana and back to the Final Four? AP college basketball writer Jim O’Connell answers that question with one of his own. Why not?

The 12th-seeded Rams’ upset of No. 5 Wichita State wasn’t the shocker those numbers suggest. Anyone who watched them methodically tighten the defensive vise late in that game and force a hurried 3-point try at the end knew that. That’s experience and in the tournament, it’s often the only edge the little guys have. And while it’s hard to believe, Virginia Commonwealth’s squad actually has more of it than this group of young Hoosiers, most of whom were 10-year-olds the last time Indiana reached the Final Four in 2002. Smart, VCU’s second-year coach, must have known something when he spurned all the schools that dangled offers after last year’s magical run. How much remains to be seen.

It’s almost a sin to pick against Kentucky, especially in its backyard. So keep in mind O’Connell was sitting in a chair at the Pittsburgh regional when he penciled in No. 8 Iowa State to take down the Wildcats in Louisville. The Cyclones put away defending champion Connecticut already and if coach Fred Hoiberg pulls this upset off, the one-time Iowa State star still known as the “Mayor” back home in Ames could probably run for governor come November.



History isn’t kind to No. 1 seeds that struggle to get past a No. 16 in the opening round, the way Syracuse did in a 72-65 debut against UNC-Asheville. The last No. 1 seed to win its tournament opener by fewer than 10 points was North Carolina in 1997. And while those Tar Heels recovered to reach the Final Four, STATS LLC points out that since the start of the 64-team era in 1985, none of the previous 11 top seeds went on to win the national title. Four lost to a No. 8 or No. 9 seed in the next round, and only two others bounced back as well as North Carolina and made it to the Final Four: Illinois in 1990 and Duke in 1986.

Story Continues →