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The Week In Sports: March Madness

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The Week In Sports: March Madness

The Week In Sports: March Madness

The Week In Sports: March Madness

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Mike Pesca of Slate's "The Gist" updates NPR's Linda Wertheimer on March Madness.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: So what are we talking about - the Wildcats? The Jayhawks? The Ducks? The Sooners? - four great teams, but only two of them made it through last night's March Madness to nab a spot in the Final Four. Here to tell us about those games and maybe let us sneak a peek at his bracket is Mike Pesca of "The Gist" on Slate.

Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Claims of being able to sneak a peek at my bracket have been overstated.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

PESCA: I keep it close to the vest when it's in this state of shambles.

(LAUGHTER)

WERTHEIMER: So you don't - you're telling me that, unlike the rest of America, you didn't pick Kansas and pick everything else wrong?

PESCA: I actually had a couple of teams if you want to be true. It's just that Michigan State, who's the No. 2 team, lost in the first round.

Now, the other favorites of this tournament - one of them was Kansas, and Kansas came into the game against Villanova. That is the Wildcats in question since Wildcats is an undifferentiated nickname in college basketball. They came into the game against Villanova as a favorite, and they just played a fantastic game. There were a couple runs - a couple of Villanova runs in each half that defined the game. And the Wildcats are going on to the Final Four. They win 64-59.

The other game - not nearly as close, not nearly as dramatic in a way - by final score. But there was just so much drama imbued in one great player, the most dominant player of this tournament so far, Buddy Hield of Oklahoma. The guy had 37 points, including eight 3-pointers. Oregon absolutely had no answer, and it was 80-68 in that one.

WERTHEIMER: So tonight, two more big games - give us a preview.

PESCA: Yeah, and two more No. 1s - remember, yesterday the two No. 1s lost. Here are the No. 1s in play tonight, University of Virginia and UNC. You know, Virginia has made the Final Four twice in the early '80s. Now, right around that time, there was a guy at North Carolina - a kid named Jordan, stuck his tongue out when he shot, pretty good. So yeah, we're going to say that North Carolina has the basketball lineage of the foursome.

Also, all four teams playing tonight are in the same conference, the ACC. As we preview these games, the No. 1 seeds are big favorites - bigger favorites than they were yesterday. UVA is playing Syracuse, a team that possibly shouldn't have gotten into the tournament. They're a 10 seed. So a lot of these factors - these are the things you say when you're talking about a feel-good Cinderella story. But Syracuse is a major dominant program. And if they were a 10 seed, it's only because the team underperformed, and also their coach was serving a suspension. So I don't know how Cinderella they are. Maybe the No. 1 seed, Virginia, is the Cinderella there.

And Notre Dame against UNC - UNC is almost a 10-point favorite in that one. They are the last of the threesome that came into this tournament as big favorites, and they've been blowing teams out.

WERTHEIMER: And then there are the women. The two top seeds fell. And UConn won by dozens.

PESCA: Oh, yeah. So there were surprises. But how much can be said to be surprised in the women's tournament when all that UConn does is decimate opponents? So the top seeds that fell were Notre Dame and South Carolina, two No. 1 seeds. But the No. 1 seed, by far the most dominant team in all of college team sports, the UConn women, they won by 60 points against a good team - against Mississippi State. This isn't a 16th seed Robert Morris first-round opponent. This is Mississippi State. The score at the end of the first quarter was 32-4. No one's stopping the UConn women.

WERTHEIMER: Mike Pesca, host of "The Gist" on Slate. Mike, thank you.

PESCA: You're welcome.

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