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; Staff And Wire Reports

As the final seconds ticked off and Arizona fans chanted “Sweet 16,” a grinning Chase Budinger threw one final pass from the perimeter and joined the applause.

The Wildcats relish their new role as longshots.

Seeded only 12th, the NCAA tournament perennials took an early 14-point lead Sunday and advanced to the Midwest Regional semifinals by beating upstart Cleveland State, 71-57, in Miami.

“Making it to the Sweet 16 feels great,” Budinger said. “We’re showing that we’re a lot better than what people thought of us.”


The Wildcats are appearing in the tournament for the 25th year in a row. But they’ve never been seeded so low, and they drew criticism as undeserving of a berth. Now they’re bound for the round of 16 for the 12th time since 1988, and they’ll be the lowest-seeded team still playing.

“When you look at the NCAA tournament, a lot of times the teams that get hot at the right time are teams that had to struggle to get in,” interim Coach Russ Pennell said. “What’s happening now doesn’t surprise me with this team. We’ve seen it before at points in the season.”

Nic Wise scored 21 points to lead four double-figure scorers for the Wildcats (21-13), who will meet Louisville in Indianapolis on Friday.

Cleveland State (26-11), at No. 13 the lowest-seeded team to reach the second round, was unable to duplicate its improbable run to a regional semifinal in 1986.

No. 1 Louisville 79, No. 9 Siena 72 -- Terrence Williams had 24 points and 15 rebounds at Dayton, Ohio, to rally the Cardinals (30-5) in the final minutes. Siena (27-8) overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half and led by four with 7:20 left before Williams took over. Edwin Ubiles scored 24 points for the Saints.

No. 3 Kansas 60, No. 11 Dayton 43 -- The Jayhawks may have lost their entire starting lineup from last year’s national title team but, when it comes to the NCAA tournament, they certainly have not lost their winning touch. In routing Dayton in Minneapolis, Kansas claimed its eighth straight tournament victory and advanced to next Friday’s regional semifinal against Michigan State in Indianapolis.


Kansas (27-7) is in the Sweet 16 for the 26th time in school history. Junior guard Sherron Collins had 25 points, while sophomore center Cole Aldrich had 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

Dayton (27-8) shot 22.2% and scored its fewest points in a game this season.

-- Chris Dufresne