By Alan Blinder
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Pete Maravich Assembly Center has spent 50 years seeing commencements and concerts, presidential power and a governor’s prayer rally.
It was not until this past weekend, though, that it came within about five minutes of hosting the second-biggest upset in the history of the N.C.A.A. women’s basketball tournament.
Then the No. 3 seed Louisiana State surged, 14th-seeded Jackson State sputtered and the tournament, long derided as something of a predictable spectacle, went on apace. But the Southern drama — and the theatrics that emerged elsewhere, in places like Iowa City and College Park, Md. — showed how the competition can yield stunners, near misses and, as expected, mostly unchecked and unchallenged marches by the sport’s elite toward next month’s Final Four.
And escaping one game is, as ever, no guarantee of surviving the next: L.S.U. lost to Ohio State, seeded sixth, on Monday night. Arizona, the reigning national runner-up, went down, too, and Connecticut, which has won 11 championships, nearly did.