For top seeds Pittsburgh and Louisville, Sunday should have been the day when both teams regained their swagger after some uneasy moments against 16th seeds East Tennessee State and Morehead State in the first round.
But in each case, it didn't happen.
The Panthers struggled to defeat eighth-seeded Oklahoma State, 84-76, in the first game here at the University of Dayton Arena while Louisville got by ninth-seeded Siena, 79-72, in the finale of a second-round doubleheader.
Both Big East powers, it seemed, were happy just to survive and advance to the Sweet 16.
Pitt, which absorbed a barrage of 10 Oklahoma State three-pointers during a wild 49-49 first half, appeared to be cruising after building a 64-53 lead midway through the second half. But the Panthers let the cushion completely dissolve and needed two huge plays — a driving layup and a three-point jumper — to finally pry open a 74-74 tie in the final 2:11 of the game.
Louisville shot 49 percent against Siena and out-rebounded the MAAC champions, 47-32, but were bothered most of the game by aggressive pressure. The Cardinals committed 17 turnovers and fell behind, 63-59, after Siena guard Clarence Jackson scored on a layup with 7:49 to play. Ultimately, the Cardinals subdued the Saints with brute strength and NBA-caliber athletes like 6-foot-7 senior forward Terrence Williams, who took over the game with 24 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.