2009 NCAA Tournament: East Regional Sweet 16 Recap & Elite 8 Preview
East Regional @ TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
No. 1 Pittsburgh (31-4) 60 - No. 4 Xavier (27-8) 55
Key Moment: Trailing 55-54 with less than a minute to play, Pittsburgh point guard Levance Fields drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with 50.4 seconds to play and then came up with a key steal and layup with 23.9 seconds left to lift the Panthers. Pittsburgh is in its first regional final since 1974.
High Point Scorers: Pittsburgh -- Sam Young 19, Xavier -- B.J. Raymond 15
Analysis: Coaching against his alma mater, Xavier coach Sean Miller had his team ready and the Musketeers never flinched. They carried a 37-29 lead into the intermission. However, two things changed the momentum. First, Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair (10 points, 17 rebounds) got going with four points and five rebounds in the first few minutes as the Panthers tied the game at 37. Second, Xavier was held scoreless for more than the first six minutes of the second half. All Pittsburgh games are a grind, and this was no different.
No. 3 Villanova (29-7) 77 - No. 2 Duke (30-7) 54
Key Moment: Villanova went on a 12-1 run early in the second half to seize the game.
High Point Scorers: Villanova -- Scottie Reynolds 16, Duke -- Kyle Singler 15
Analysis: It pretty much went as was expected. When Villanova guarded the perimeter, Duke ran into a bunch of problems as it was 5-27 (18.5 percent) from 3-point range. The Wildcats were quicker, got better transition looks and were more physical than the Blue Devils. Villanova outrebounded Duke, 46-32. And forward Dante Cunningham had 14 points and 11 rebounds to Singler's 15 points and 6 rebounds. But credit the defense for shutting down Duke's Gerald Henderson. He finished with 7 points on 1-14 shooting. Reynolds played a nice floor game.
Regional Final: #1 Pittsburgh vs #3 Villanova
Early Take: Well, the all-Big East regional championship game is here and the strength of the conference has represented itself nicely. This game will be a battle of how well Fields will contest Reynolds and vice versa. The other question will be how can the Wildcats limit Pitt's front court. Well, the Wildcats did in the two team's only meeting on Jan. 28 in Philadelphis. Villanova won, 67-57, because DeJuan Blair ran into foul problems and scored only seven points. Fields is going to be the difference maker. He is such a clutch shooter late in games. If they get enough from him and the Panthers' front court can establish itself, the Panthers will move on to their first Final Four since 1941.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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