The 2009 NCAA Sweet Sixteen boasts of the best ever lineup since 1979, when the seeding system was first implemented. All the top three seeds in each NCAA bracket have reached the Sweet Sixteen and the added number of the seeds is the lowest ever: 49.
It became very clear that the NCAA Sweet Sixteen 2009 will be hard-fought when all the four top seeds, Louisville, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and North Carolina went in and all the four second and third seeds followed them.
The only double digit seeded team is No.12 Arizona who beat Cleveland State 71-57 in America Airlines Arena on Sunday. They will now face No.1 overall Louisville in the Midwest Regional semi-finals on Friday.
“It’s a wild ride,” said Chase Budinger of being one of last Pac-10 teams left. “That’s what happens in the (NCAA) tournament. You have no idea what’s going to happen. On any given day anyone can beat anyone. We’re just glad to be here.”
The semi-final will surely be interesting as Louisville is coached by super-coach Rick Pitino, who lost the NCAA title to Arizona in 1997, as the coach of Kentucky and will be glad to block them this time around.
Meanwhile, freshman Kim English played the match-winner when he threw in both his free throws to help Missouri win their school-record 30th game after beating Marquette 83-79. English scored 17 points, including a six-minute run of 15 points which gave the Tigers the much-needed boost in the first half. Interestingly, he was playing as J.T. Tiller had injured himself.
“Can’t nobody shake Kimmie’s confidence,” Missouri senior Leo Lyons said. “When he came in, he had that look in his eyes that everybody’s seen before. He was shooting the ball with confidence, he had a nice release and everything was going in for us.”
The win gave Missouri their first Sweet Sixteen berth since 2001.
All in all, Big East reigned supreme in the final tally of NCAA Sweet Sixteen 2009, with as many as five teams going in.