No. 4 seed Arkansas tries to play spoiler in Coach K’s final season as the Razorbacks take on the second-seeded Blue Devils for the West Regional title and a ticket to New Orleans next weekend.
No. 2 seed Villanova clinched the first spot in the men’s NCAA Tournament Final Four with a 50-44 win over No. 5 Houston.
But, it was the women that took center stage early as four more Sweet 16 games commenced in the women’s tournament. The Bridgeport Region’s No. 1 seed North Carolina State overcame a second half deficit to dispatch No. 5 Notre Dame and advance to the Elite Eight.
The region’s second game featured No. 2 seed Connecticut, which used a decided home court advantage and a 16-0 second half run to topple No. 3 Indiana 75-58.
The Wichita Region saw No. 1 seed Louisville knock out tournament mainstay and No. 4 seed Tennessee, 76-64. No. 3 seed Michigan ended No. 10 seed South Dakota’s Cinderella run 52-49 to wrap up the Sweet 16.
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It wasn’t pretty, though, as the third-seeded Wolverines grinded out baskets in the second half to take down 10-seed South Dakota, 52-49, on Saturday in Wichita, Kansas.
Freshman Laila Phelia hit a running layup with 23.5 seconds left to snap a 48-all tie, delivering her first basket of the second half in a clutch moment. Naz Hillmon led the Wolverines with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Phelia added 14 points, her most since scoring 19 in U-M’s loss to Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament. But now the Wolverines have a rematch set with another former foe.
Michigan will face No. 1 seed Louisville in the regional final on Monday. The winner heads to the Final Four in Minneapolis, which begins Friday. The Wolverines and Cardinals played on Dec. 2, with Louisville dominating Michigan, 70-48.
– Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press
Villanova earned coach Jay Wright’s fourth trip to the Final Four with a 50-44 victory over Houston, withstanding the Cougars’ ultra-physical style and their massive crowd advantage to earn a trip to New Orleans next week.
The Wildcats, who were seeded No. 2 in the region, won despite shooting just 29 percent from the field and making 5-of-2 from the 3-point line. But they were able to lead start-to-finish, then fend off a late Cougars push, because they made all 15 foul shots, turned the ball over just nine times and held their own on the boards against a team that has made rebounding its specialty all season.
Leading by just four points late, Villanova senior Jermaine Samuels (16 points, 10 rebounds) found his way to the rim for a layup with 1:06 remaining — one of many massive plays by the Wildcats down the stretch when Houston needed a stop to give itself a chance.
Houston, of course, didn’t shoot well at any point in the game either, making just 1-of-20 from the 3-point line and 30 percent overall.
– Dan Wolken
No. 2 seed Villanova leads No. 5 Houston 27-20.
The Wildcats are up by seven points despite shooting 28% from the field and 3-12 from three. Jermaine Samuels has 7 points for the Wildcats and Caleb Daniels added 7 from the bench.
The Houston Cougars aren’t shooting much better. They are 32.0% from the field and 0-8 from three. Taze Moore leads the team with 6 points. Jamal Shead added 4 points.
Houston’s 20 points tied for the fewest first half points in a NCAA Tournament game in school history, according to TBS.
– Cydney Henderson
WICHITA, Kan. — The Louisville women’s basketball team is going back to the Elite Eight for the fourth straight season.
The No. 1 seed Cardinals, who defeated No. 4 seed Tennessee 76-64 in Saturday’s Sweet 16 matchup, were led by a stellar outing from Emily Engstler (20 points and 10 rebounds). Hailey Van Lith had 23 points and a career-high six assists, and Kianna Smith had 12 points despite sitting the entire second quarter.
Louisville’s defense gave Tennessee problems throughout the game. Still, Tennessee cut the Louisville lead to two points in the fourth quarter, 55-53, but four straight turnovers allowed the Cardinals to take control again. Louisville forced 18 turnovers in the game and had 21 points off those turnovers.
The Cardinals have become one of the nation’s dominant women’s programs under coach Jeff Walz — much like the Lady Vols were for so many years under Pat Summitt — but are still chasing their first national championship.
Louisville will play the winner of No. 3 Michigan and No. 10 South Dakota on Monday night.
– Cameron Teague Robinson, Louisville Courier Journal; The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO – Nolan Richardson, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the Arkansas Razorbacks to the 1994 national title, has a prediction about Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell tour.
It’s going to end of Saturday, at the Chase Center in the Elite Eight.
That’s when the fourth-seeded Arkansas plays the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils.
“When you look at it with the eye test, when they both (teams) play to their potentials, I think the Razorbacks are three, four, five points better at this point, hopefully because of maturity,’’ Richardson said Friday.
In 1994, his Razorbacks beat Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, 76-72, in the national championship game.
— Josh Peter
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Paige Bueckers and Christyn Williams each scored 15 points to lead a balanced UConn offense in a 75-58 win over Indiana on Saturday to advance the Huskies into their 16th consecutive regional final.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds for Connecticut (28-5), which outscored the Hoosiers 46-32 in the paint.
Azzi Fudd added 13 points for the Huskies, who face top-seeded North Carolina State on Monday night in an attempt to earn a 14th straight trip to the Final Four.
Ali Patberg, in her seventh year of college basketball thanks to transfer and COVID-19 rules, had 16 points for the third-seeded Hoosiers, who finish their season at 24-9. Grace Berger had 13 points and Mackenzie Holmes added 12 for Indiana.
UConn led 37-33 at the half, but opened the second half with a 16-0 run to take control of the game.
— Associated Press
Raina Perez picked the pocket of Notre Dame guard Dara Mabrey near midcourt with 16 seconds left and hit the go-ahead breakaway layup as North Carolina State advanced to the Elite Eight with a 66-63 victory over Notre Dame.
The Wolfpack, the No. 1 seed in the Bridgeport Region, advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1998.
Perez’s layup capped a 13-4 run as North Carolina State erased a 10-point second half deficit and got back into the game by forcing seven turnovers in the fourth quarter by Notre Dame.
Notre Dame freshman guard Olivia Miles scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the first half. Miles also had six assists and six rebounds.
Elissa Cunane led the Wolfpack with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Kai Crutchfield added 14 points.
NC State, who shot only 40 percent, advances to play Connecticut, with a trip to the Final Four in Minneapolis on the line.
— Scooby Axson
CHICAGO — In a battle between two double-digit seeds not expected to be here in the Sweet 16, a veteran-laden Miami (Fla.) team made enough plays down the stretch to put away a relentless Iowa State 70-56 on Friday to reach the Elite Eight in the men’s NCAA Tournament.
It’s coach Jim Larrañaga’s first advancement past the Sweet 16 with Miami in 11 seasons. The Hurricanes (26-10) are now one win away from getting the seasoned coach back to the Final Four — where he memorably guided mid-major George Mason in 2006. With Miami’s hot shooting, alley-oop dunking and experienced roster thanks to the extra COVID year of eligibility, they’re seriously dangerous and have become the biggest surprise of this March Madness not named the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.
Due to a down year in the ACC regular season, Miami was a bubble team at the start of the month but did enough to comfortably hear its name called on Selection Sunday as a No. 10 seed. Now, with North Carolina upsetting UCLA on Friday and Duke advancing Thursday, the ACC has three teams still standing.
– Scott Gleeson
SPOKANE, Wash. — Stanford rolled to a (mostly) easy 72-66 win over Maryland in the Sweet 16 Friday, advancing to its third Elite 8 in a row. The defending champion Cardinal will meet Texas on Sunday evening with a ticket to the Final Four on the line.
The two teams met (much) earlier this season in Maples Pavilion, with then-No. 25 Texas upsetting the Cardinal 61-56.
Friday night, three Stanford players scored 15 or more. Lexie Hull, playing in her hometown with her twin sister Lacie, also grabbed nine rebounds. Every player who logged minutes for the Cardinal scored except Ashten Prechtel, who played just three minutes.
Stanford led for more than 38 minutes, and dominated the boards, 50-32, which surely helped make up for its 18 turnovers. The Cardinal held Maryland to 34% from the field and just 16% from 3. Stanford blitzed the Terrapins early, using precise backdoor cuts for easy scores to take a 39-23 lead into the locker room.
– Lindsay Schnell