Arizona's freshman combination of Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins didn't act their age Thursday night in their NCAA tournament debut. The pair combined for 40 points as the Wildcats began what's expected to be a deep postseason run.
Markkanen scored 20 points as second-seeded Arizona cruised to a 100-82 victory over No. 15 North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament's West Regional. It was just the third time Arizona has scored 100-plus points in its NCAA tournament history.
“I'm so proud of these two guys,” Arizona Coach Sean Miller said. “I've answered a lot of questions on how we've weathered a lot of the obstacles and adversity that we dealt with this season. A lot of times I answered by, we have three freshmen that are excellent players, but bring no drama to the table and they do their job and are consistent.
Florida State made the most of its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012, beating a Sunshine State opponent.
The third-seeded Seminoles held off No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast, 86-80, in a West Region game Thursday night despite some sloppy play that allowed a late double-digit lead to disappear. The Seminoles made clutch free throws and came up with enough stops in the waning moments to spoil the Eagles' upset bid.
“There is some satisfaction because we won,” said Dwayne Bacon, who led the Seminoles with 25 points. “All that other stuff, how the game looked, that doesn't matter when you win.”
There's little left for Bronson Koenig to accomplish at Wisconsin. Over four years, he has done it all, seen it all.
He's not ready for his run to end.
Koenig made a school-record eight three-pointers and scored 28 points and fellow senior Nigel Hayes added 16 as NCAA tournament-tested Wisconsin advanced in the East Region with an 84-74 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.
Vincent Edwards scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, and Purdue held off Vermont, 80-70, on Thursday night for its first victory in the NCAA tournament in five years.
Caleb Swanigan contributed 16 points, 14 rebounds and four assists for the fourth-seeded Boilermakers (26-7), who were upset by Arkansas-Little Rock in double-overtime in the first round of last year's tournament. Dakota Mathias made three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.
Next up for Purdue is a second-round game against the winner of Nevada-Iowa State.
For 20 minutes, Villanova looked ordinary, vulnerable, may be even a little scared. The Wildcats finished like champions.
Donte DiVincenzo scored 21 points and the NCAA tournament's top-seeded team shook off a shocking start and stumbled forward in the East Region Thursday night with a 76-56 victory over No. 16-seeded Mount St. Mary's.
Leading by just one at halftime, the Wildcats (32-3) opened the second half with a 21-6 run and took their first step toward defending their championship. Villanova is trying to be the first back-to-back titlist since Florida in 2007, and the Wildcats will have to play better to make history.
Trevon Bluiett doesn't spend a lot of time worrying about missed shots because knows makes will eventually come.
After missing his first seven shots and contributing only three points in the first half, Bluiett found his rhythm Thursday night to lead No.11-sedeed Xavier to a 76-65 upset of sixth-seeded Maryland in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Bluiett made six of seven shots from the field during the final 20 minutes to finish with 21 points.
“Once I get a couple to go in and get a rhythm going then everything starts to fall,” said Bluiett, the Musketeers' leading scorer. “Everything you shoot just feels good.”
At Northwestern, the party goes on. At Vanderbilt, there is only one question: What was he thinking?
Northwestern's first-ever NCAA tournament victory, 68-66 over Vanderbilt, came after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably grabbed Bryant McIntosh of the Wildcats on purpose, sending McIntosh to the free-throw line for the go-ahead points with 15 seconds left.
“I actually thought we were down one,” Fisher-Davis explained after Thursday's heartbreaker in the West Region. “Coach pointed at him, but he was just telling me that was my matchup. I took it as (I should) foul. It was just a dumb-ass foul.”