Ohio State reserve forward LaQuinton Ross' buzzer-beating three-point shot drove the second-seed Buckeyes past Arizona and into the Elite Eight, the single moment of high drama on a Thursday night otherwise marked by blowouts.
One of those routs was also a significant upset: fourth-seed Syracuse crushed top-ranked Indiana, 61-50, limiting the Hoosiers to their lowest point total of the season. The Orangemen advanced to an all-Big East showdown in the East Regional against third-seeded Marquette, who toppled Miami, 71-61.
The comfortable margin came as a relief for Marquette, which narrowly won its previous games against Davidson and Butler. The upset of Miami ended Marquette's recent drought of Sweet Sixteen wins, a point that wasn't lost on Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, who led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003. "We finally figured it out," Wade tweeted.
In the evening's final game, La Salle's Cinderella run came to a crushing halt against Wichita State, 72-58. The ninth-seeded Shockers, Cinderellas in their own right, had previously beaten Pittsburgh and top-ranked Gonzaga to reach the Sweet Sixteen. They were perhaps inspired Thursday by an impromptu pep talk from Tim Tebow. They'll be underdogs again against Ohio State in the West Regional.
Thursday night's clear hero was Ross, a once-promising recruit who has struggled to stay in the Buckeye's lineup. After Arizona tied the game at 70 with 21 seconds to go, Ross took a pass at the top of the key and coolly drilled a three-pointer, ending the game with 17 points and completing a second-half rally that erased an 11-point deficit.
LeBron James, an Ohio native, tweeted in celebration: "i see you Q! Big time shot. Way to go guys. O..H..I..O"
"I think this is what every player grows up looking at on TV, wanting to hit that big shot for an NCAA tournament team," Ross said. "It just feels great right now."
The remaining four Sweet Sixteen games will be played Friday night. In the Midwest Regional, top-ranked Louisville takes on twelfth-seed Oregon, and second-seed Duke faces third-seed Michigan State. In the South Regional, first-seed Kansas plays eighth-seed North Carolina, and third-seed Florida faces the tournament's other remaining Cinderella, Florida Gulf Coast University.