- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

There’s always talk about how the best big men in the college game don’t stick around long enough.

With that in mind, be sure to enjoy freshman Tyrus Thomas and sophomore Glen “Big Baby” Davis as Louisiana State continues its run tomorrow.

Thomas’ play in particular was critical as the Tigers knocked off top-seeded Duke 62-54 last night, serving as arguably the most disruptive player the Blue Devils faced all year. Davis, who battled foul trouble for much of the night, still grabbed two huge offensive rebounds in the final minute to end the college careers of Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick.

Duke’s loss probably busted a few brackets, but the Blue Devils’ weakness throughout the season was frontcourt depth. Few teams matched up better with Duke than Louisiana State, and the Tigers were unfazed when the Blue Devils made their inevitable rally.

The Blue Devils’ loss ensured that all four No. 1 seeds would not make it to the Final Four for the first time.

It also showed how reliant Duke was on Williams and Redick to produce more than typical stars. Williams finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but Redick was a ghastly 3-for-18 from the floor. The best teams usually have consistent third options, and Duke was never able to develop one this season.

Name game

Noted storyteller Dick Enberg clearly relished relating the tale of Louisiana State freshman Magnum Rolle, who was named after the popular 1980s television P.I. It certainly sparks the imagination to come up with some other ‘80s-inspired monikers.

Perhaps a big fella named Hannibal or B.A.? Or a resourceful swingman who goes by MacGyver? Any sightings of an Alf, a Kitt or a Punky Brewster also would merit some attention.

Tigers still prowling

Memphis continued its quiet march through the tournament, turning back upstart Bradley in the Oakland bracket. The Tigers were challenged early but used a run late in the first half that continued after the break to separate themselves from the Braves.

It also ensured Memphis didn’t go down as the No. 1 seed to endure the most stunning upset. Louisiana State pulled off the biggest shocker over a No. 1, taking down Kentucky as a No. 11 seed in a 1986 regional final.

A look ahead

The greatest chance for bracket mayhem tonight is easily the Villanova-Boston College tussle in Minneapolis. The top-seeded Wildcats simply outlasted Arizona in the second round but will face a far more physical test against the burly Big East defectors.

Craig Smith and Jared Dudley guided the Eagles into the second weekend for the first time since 1994, and they will be unfazed by Villanova’s four-guard set. If Villanova is going to lose before the Final Four, tonight is the night it will happen.

Meanwhile, just about no office pool entrants have anything riding on tonight’s Wichita State-George Mason game. So here’s some friendly advice to the masses: just enjoy the quality of play. It might be one of the more fundamentally sound games of the weekend.

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