NC State stunned Georgetown with yet another early NCAA tournament departure. Photo courtesy NCAA.com

Through the first weekend, this NCAA tournament felt as though it was suffering from Multiple Personality Syndrome. On Thursday, there were only two upsets out of 16 games. On Friday, there were eight. On Saturday, all the higher seeds won. And then yesterday, three of the eight games again were upsets.

And even with only three upsets, just about EVERY game went down to the wire. With the exception of Florida browbeating Norfolk State and UNC winning fairly comfortably over Creighton, the games on Sunday were nail biters.

To start the day off, Georgetown faced its second straight double-digit seed in N.C. State. The Wolfpack, fresh off an upset victory over San Diego State, was only one win away from the Sweet Sixteen. Hoyas big man Henry Sims got in foul trouble early and paved the way for N.C. State  to dominate the battle in the paint. For Georgetown, who is not exactly a perimeter shooting team, that was the beginning of the end.

N.C. State went on a critical tear right before half and sufficiently placed momentum in their corner. In the second half, it was Georgetown scrambling to play catch-up. As a result, the Hoyas’ best outside shooter, Hollis Thompson, led the team in scoring with 23. For the Wolfpack, however, they hunted much like their mascot’s name as four of their five starters finished in double digits. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that N.C. State beat Georgetown while only going two deep into their bench.

Also pulling upsets yesterday were Ohio and Cincinnati in two games that shaped up very differently. Ohio beat twelfth-seeded South Florida which, despite hailing from the mighty Big East, is really a flawed team. On the other hand, Cincinnati, despite making it TO the Big East Finals, found themselves to be the underdog seed against the ACC-Champion Florida State Seminoles.

Ohio is quickly becoming the darlings of this year's tournament after knocking off Big East foe South Florida. Photo courtesy Donn Jones/Associated Press

Ohio and South Florida went back and forth all game. The Bobcats were trailing by two when a beautiful three-pointer by Walter Offutt sparked a 10-0 run and gave Ohio and 8-point lead. A Toarlyn Fitzpatrick three-pointer, USF’s first of the half, pulled the Bulls to within three. But South Florida never quite closed the gap as they missed three shots in the final thirty seconds. Ohio advances to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance in program history.

So we go from one game where an Ohio team was an underdog and a Florida team was a favorite to another. Cincinnati-Florida State looked on paper to be a heavyweight battle and the two teams did not disappoint. Over the course of forty minutes, the Bearcats and Seminoles shared 19 lead changes and 11 ties. Neither team led by more than three in the second half until the very end.

The critical turning point in the game came with 1:32 left in regulation. Cincinnati tied the game up at 50-all and Florida State guard Luke Loucks began to bring the ball up when he threw a careless pass. The Bearcats’ Dion Dixon intercepted the ball and took no more than a split-second to slam it through the hoop with an emphatic dunk. Cincinnati took a 52-50¬† lead and never relinquished it.

Florida State, to their credit, did a superb job of extending the game. The final minute, in fact, felt like it took twenty as the Seminoles scored easy layup after easy layup and fouled the Bearcats immediately to force them to the line. As Loucks brought the ball up one possession, he got trapped in Cincinatti’s defense, got flustered, and committed a mindless traveling. A second later, on the inbounds pass, Florida State forced Cincinnati to inadvertently step out of bounds. It was that kind of game.

Some people might remember Cincinnati best this season for the brawl they got in with cross-town rival Xavier. So, of course, it’s only fitting that the Musketeers have also advanced to the Sweet Sixteen as they beat the other #15 seed still alive, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks.

The two teams were neck and neck for most of the game and Lehigh even led Xavier by as much as ten in the first half. But the Musketeers, on the big, broad shoulders of center Kenny Frease, fought their way back into the mix and only trailed by four at the half.

After halftime, the game was dominated by the X-men. Lehigh did their best to try and keep up, but only converted one field goal in the last eight minutes and allowed the Musketeers to pull away. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum made some absolutely gorgeous shots to keep the Mountain Hawks in it, but fellow guard Mackey McKnight, who led the team in scoring with 20 points, seemed determined to play “street ball” and tried to Michael Jordan his way through the stout Xavier defense time and time again. As a result, Lehigh scored only 21 in the second half, eventually losing by 12.

For Xavier, the iconic moment might have been when star guard Tu Holloway got blood on his jersey. As per NCAA rules, he changed shirts and came out wearing a nameless #24 jersey instead of his usual #52. This Xavier team, through its first two games, looks nothing like the Musketeers that stumbled down the stretch and seem to have as good a chance as any to make it to the Elite Eight.

Over in the Midwest region, I’m sure the Kansas Jayhawks would be just fine if they never say another black-and-gold team in the tournament again. Kansas, who lost to the Cinderella VCU Rams last year, found themselves in a dogfight with the tenth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers (ironically another team that fell victim to VCU).

For the first twenty minutes, it appeared KU was destined to lose. Much like their exit last year, the Jayhawks began to go cold from the perimeter while their opponent was as hot as any team from mid- to long-range. Naismith candidate Thomas Robinson went only 2-for-12 from the field and relied on seven made free throws to push his point total into double digits. The Boilermakers led by six at the break.

Coach Bill Self reportedly told the team in the locker room at the half that it was going to take toughness to battle back and win; and toughness is just what the Jayhawks used.

Kansas got physical in the paint and began to slow down Purdue forward Robbie Hummel who, up until that point, had been carrying Purdue for most of the game. But perhaps it was the Boilermakers who ultimately sealed their own fate.

Only up a possession, Purdue took their foot off the accelerator and began to try and run down the clock. Rather than pressing Kansas for time, the strategy ended up with Purdue rushing their own shots. The Boilermakers didn’t convert and Kansas took the ball down the court and pulled to within one. With possession again, Purdue began to run down the clock again when guard Lewis Jackson lost control of the ball. Kansas’ Elijah Johnson picked it up and took it the distance for a go-ahead layup. Another two points and the Jayhawks led by three with only seconds remaining. Purdue guard Ryne Smith got a decent look at a game-tying three, but ultimately Kansas advanced.

Also winning was Michigan State in a close one over St. Louis. The Spartans victory keeps all the #1 seeds alive heading into the Sweet Sixteen.