Vitale: Sunday preview

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More from Vitale: Sunday's Second-Round V-Recaps

What a day, baby! Stanford and Gonzaga both fell in big upsets, going down to Alabama and Nevada, respectively. But the sad part is that brilliant seasons by the Cardinal and Bulldogs will be tarnished a bit by second-round losses in the NCAA Tournament. The tourney has become the dominant factor in determining what kind of season a team has, but there is still no doubt both teams deserve a salute for great, great seasons.

(8) Alabama 73, (1) Stanford 70 -- Give loads of credit to Alabama for coming back from a 13-point deficit, thanks in large part to a 15-0 run in the second half. The Crimson Tide did a terrific job down the stretch after Antoine Pettway hit a big 3-pointer to sway the momentum. The Tide's dominant performance from the free-throw line in the final minutes was a deciding factor as well, and Mark Gottfried's kids certainly deserve to celebrate the sweetness of advancing to the round of 16. There was some debate near the end of the season about whether Alabama would even make the field of 65 with an 8-8 record in the SEC, but they have proven that the SEC is one of the best conferences in the nation this year. And with Stanford, Arizona and Washington bowing out before the Sweet 16, the opinion of many that the Pac-10 was not a premier league has proven true. But give Mike Montgomery and his Cardinal team a tip of the cap for an excellent year.

(5) Syracuse 72, (4) Maryland 70 -- Syracuse dominated early and allowed only 22 points to Maryland in the first half, but after what the Terps did in the ACC tournament you just knew they had a run in them. Give credit to Jim Boeheim and his Orangemen, though, for holding off a supreme comeback effort by Maryland. The Terrapins reflected the personality and determination of coach Gary Williams with a gallant effort, but they were just short in the end. Syracuse was still able to pull it out despite a subpar performance from Gerry McNamara, who went for 43 in a first-round win. Hakim Warrick gave the Orangemen quality minutes and has established himself as a legitimate top-10 player in the nation. He and McNamara are the reasons Syracuse has a date with Alabama in the Sweet 16.

(2) Connecticut 72, (7) DePaul 55 -- There is a lot more to this Connecticut team is a lot more than just Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor. People have to realize that guys like Rashad Anderson, Taliek Brown and Denham Brown are all contributors to a very deep team. Jim Calhoun defeated his former assistant Dave Leitao by getting his team to dominate early and send a message to the Blue Demons. The Huskies are also very hungry and I feel they will make a legit run for the Final Four. In fact, pack your bags for San Antonio, Husky fans!

(10) Nevada 91, (2) Gonzaga 72 -- Oh, baby, can the Nevada Wolfpack play! Many thought it was a fluke when they won at Kansas early in the year, but after taking out Michigan Sate and then dominating Gonzaga the Wolfpack has shown everyone just how good they are. Gonzaga had some tough luck with Ronny Turiaf getting his fourth foul early in the second half, but the bottom line is the Bulldogs did not have an answer anywhere on the floor against Trent Johnson's team. Todd Okeson scored 19 points and did a great job at the controls, while Kirk Snyder made one big play after another. Johnson, a former assistant to Mike Montgomery at Stanford, now becomes one of the hot names in coaching after putting Nevada into the Sweet 16 alongside some of the elite teams in the nation.

(1) St. Joseph's 70, (8) Texas Tech 65 -- What a battle St. Joe's had in holding off Texas Tech, man! The Red Raiders patiently got back into the game after falling behind big, but big plays by Jameer Nelson, Delonte West and John Bryant down the stretch made the difference. The Hawks, normally not a good rebounding team, did a good job keeping Tech off the glass late in the game to prevent second and third-chance shots. Pat Carroll also made some clutch buckets and the kids from Hawk Hill now look forward to a clash with Wake Forest in the next round.

(4) Wake Forest 84, (12) Manhattan 80 -- I've been screaming about the alternate possession rule for a long time -- get rid of it, man -- and it came back to bite Manhattan today. The Jaspers forced a jump ball while down only two late in the game against Wake Forest only to have the ball go with the possession arrow to Wake. Let the kids tip it up, baby! That said, though, the Demon Deacons have the best diaper dandy in America in point guard Chris Paul, who made some huge plays in another tough game for Wake. Skip Prosser's club topped Virginia Commonwealth by one point and squeaked it out against Manhattan. The Deacons will hook up with St. Joe's in an exciting Sweet 16 matchup.

(1) Duke 90, (8) Seton Hall 62 -- This one was blowout city right out of the gate, baby! The outcome was never in doubt as Seton Hall could not counter the inside-outside play of J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. The Blue Devils were absolutely brilliant on defense, too, and shut down a solid Pirates team. Coach K and his kids are looking solid as they continue their march toward a fourth national title.

(3) Texas 78, (6) North Carolina 75 -- The Longhorns built a big lead and the Tar Heels just did not have enough in the end to overcome that early hole. Rashad McCants had a solid game but the fact that Sean May was not able to do much inside hurt Carolina big-time. The 'Horns also got a solid game from Royal Ivey, and while James Thomas may not have had great stats he did a superb job against May on the interior.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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