The 2021 NCAA tournament bracket
Pac-12 tournament title-holders Oregon State moving on to Sweet 16
INDIANAPOLIS — Ethan Thompson scored 26 points and No. 12 seed Oregon State neutralized Oklahoma State and star freshman Cade Cunningham, rolling to an 80-70 upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
Maurice Calloo, who transferred from Oklahoma State, scored 15 points and Jarod Lucas also had 15 for the Beavers, who advanced to play eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago in a Midwest Region Sweet 16 matchup that few could have predicted. Loyola overmatched No. 1 seed Illinois earlier Sunday.
Cunningham, a first-team All-American and possible top NBA draft pick, scored 24 points for Oklahoma State (21-9), but the fourth-seeded Cowboys wasted possessions down the stretch by failing to get him the ball.
Avery Anderson scored 16 points and Keylan Boone added 13 for Oklahoma State in a game that was delayed for 20 minutes at the start by a power outage.
Oregon State (19-12) was picked to finish last in the Pac 12 and had to win the conference tournament just to make the NCAA field. The Beavers pulled that off, then rolled past No. 5 seed Tennessee in the first round. They became the third double-digit seed to reach this year’s Sweet 16, joining 15 seed Oral Roberts and Syracuse, an 11.
Oregon State went ahead 26-15 after an early 22-6 run.
A 3-pointer by Lucas rolled out, then in to give the Beavers a 32-19 edge. Minutes later, Lucas drove took contact, drew a foul and scored in close, energizing the Oregon State fans. His free throw pushed Oregon State’s lead to 38-22. The Beavers led 44-30 at halftime.
Oklahoma State began pressuring late in the first half with some success, and it continued in the second half. Cunningham made two 3-pointers in the opening minutes — the second of which cut Oregon State’s lead to 50-42.
The Cowboys got as close as two points on a basket by Cunningham before Oregon State responded and went up 11, leading the players to exhort their fans during an Oklahoma State timeout with about five minutes to play.
Oklahoma State made one last rally. Boone made a 3-pointer, then Cunningham stole the ball and made a 3 to trim Oregon State’s lead to 70-67 with 3:39 remaining. Oregon State pulled away at the free-throw line.
Villanova drops 15 three-pointers in big win over North Texas
INDIANAPOLIS — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl scored 18 points, Jermaine Samuels Jr. had 15 and Villanova knocked down 15 3-pointers, emphatically ending 13th-seeded North Texas’ bid for a second NCAA Tournament upset with a 84-61 victory Sunday night.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats (18-6) move on to the Sweet 16 to face top-seeded Baylor. Villanova will play the second weekend of the tournament for the third time in the last five. Coach Jay Wright’s team won the whole thing the last two times it got this far in 2016 and ‘18.
These Wildcats are not considered a serious national championship contender — but they seemed to channel those title teams in the first half against the Conference USA champions at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Mean Green (18-10) got off to a nice start with Javion Hamlet making some nifty moves and putting UNT up 21-13. Then Villanova tightened its defense and started making everything.
With quick ball movement and excellent spacing, the Wildcats went 9 for 15 from 3-point range for in the first half and finished the first 20 minutes on a 34-6 run. And that was it for North Texas.
A stifling defensive performance by the Mean Green got them into the second round, upsetting No. 4-seed Purdue for the first NCAA Tournament victory in school history.
Against Villanova, North Texas seemed to be a step behind the extra pass, scrambling to get a hand into the face of open shooters.
Villanova finished 15 for 30 from 3-point range, with Cole Swider (nine points) and Caleb Daniels (11 points) each hitting three.
Hamlet scored 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting, but the rest of the Mean Green made only 13 field goals.
Villanova came into the NCAA Tournament short-handed and searching for answers. The Wildcats lost point guard Collin Gillespie to a knee injury late in the season and dropped their first two games without him.
In the first round, Villanova picked it up on the defensive end, took care of the ball (six turnovers) and came away to workmanlike victory while still shooting only 44% from the field.
In round two, it was vintage Villanova.
Oral Roberts upsets Florida to become only second No. 15 seed to make Sweet 16
INDIANAPOLIS — Oral Roberts pulled off yet another upset to become just the second No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the round of 16 with an 81-78 victory over Florida on Sunday night.
Kevin Obanor and Max Abams carried the Golden Eagles out of an 11-point deficit to knock off the Gators. Oral Roberts, which opened the tournament with a stunning upset over No. 2 seed Ohio State, will next try to knock off No. 3 seed Arkansas next weekend.
Obanor scored 28 points and Abmas, the regular season national leading scorer, finished with 26 as the Golden Eagles (18-10) closed the game on a 25-11 run to overcome the 11-point lead Florida held with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Oral Roberts joins Florida Gulf Coast — those guys from Dunk City — as the only No. 15 seeds to reach the round of 16 in tournament history.
The Oral Roberts fans inside Indiana Famers Coliseum chanted “Cinderella” during a wild celebration after the victory.
The chance to reach the Sweet 16 was a message hammered home by coach Paul Mills after the opening round victory over Ohio State. If they enjoyed beating the Buckeyes, Mills said, a week reveling in moving onto the next round would be even better.
They’ll get that chance.
Oral Roberts took a 77-76 lead — its first lead since late in the first half — on Obanor’s basket with less than 3 minutes remaining. Noah Locke answered for the Gators, but DeShang Weaver, who missed his first five shots, hit an open 3-pointer for an 80-78 lead with 2:08 remaining.
Florida had chance but failed to get good shots on its final few possessions. The Gators had a pair of turnovers, Locke missed a corner 3-pointer and after Obanor split free throws, difficult 3-point attempts by Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis were off line.
Mann led the Gators (15-10) with 19 points, but went quiet late in the second half, failing to score over the final 17 minutes.
Locke finished with 17 points and Colin Castleton and Tyree Appleby both added 14 for the Gators. But there will be plenty of anger and frustration after losing in the second round for the third straight NCAA appearance and a game Florida will felt it gave away.
Houston avoids upset against Rutgers to advance to Sweet 16
INDIANAPOLIS — Quentin Grimes scored 22 points, Tramon Mark converted a soaring three-point play with 24 seconds left, and Houston beat Rutgers 63-60 on Sunday night to reach the Sweet 16.
DaJon Jarreau overcame a series of bumps and bruises to score a key bucket down the stretch and finished with 17 points for second-seeded Houston (26-3). The Cougars play No. 11 seed Syracuse next weekend for a spot in the Midwest Region finals.
The 10th-seeded Scarlet Knights (16-12) still had a chance after Mark’s free throws, but Geo Baker turned the ball over and Marcus Sasser made two more to extend the lead. Rutgers rushed back up the floor and Ron Harper Jr. let fly a potential tying 3 from the wing that clanked off the side of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Baker finished with 14 points for Rutgers but was holding back tears following his late turnover. Montez Mathis also had 10 points for the Scarlet Knights, who failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1976.
The difference in the program pedigrees was evident by the very way they hit the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Cougars had the swagger of a school that knew it belonged: five trips to the Final Four, the halcyon days of Guy V. Lewis and rebirth under Kelvin Sampson, and the Phi Slama Jama teams of the Dream, the Glide and the Silent Assassin.
The Scarlet Knights bounced out moments later as if riding pogo sticks, boundless joy and energy borne of the fact that they had already done something Rutgers hadn’t accomplished in 38 years: win a single NCAA tourney game.
Their showdown for the Sweet 16 was physical enough it made sense to play it in a football stadium.
Caleb McConnel hit the deck a half-dozen times for Rutgers. Houston big man Reggie Chaney was ready to throw down with anybody wearing red. By the time the first half ended, and the Scarlet Knights had forged a 30-27 lead, Rutgers and Houston each had two regulars mired in foul trouble.
Chaney took a seat with his fourth with 15:45 left and the Scarlet Knights went on the attack. Paul Mulcahy and Jacob Young rattled in 3-pointers. Baker hit a jumper and a 3 of his own. And by the time there was 10 minutes to go, the Scarlet Knights had meticulously built a 50-40 lead.
Even worse for the Cougars? The sight of Jarreau, the body blows having taken their toll, clutching his hip as he headed to the bench. Trainers spent several minutes working on the do-everything guard before he returned to the game.
Good thing he made it back to the floor.
The Cougars were slowly chipping away at their deficit when Jarreau hit a 3-pointer to get them within 58-53 with just over 4 minutes left. Grimes added a 3-pointer of his own a couple minutes later, and both of them hit free throws, before Mark’s soaring three-point play gave Houston the lead and set up the frantic finish.
Justin Smith helps push No. 3 Arkansas past Texas Tech
INDIANAPOLIS — Justin Smith had 20 points and played a key role in a final-play defensive stop, helping Arkansas beat Texas Tech 68-66, securing the program’s first trip to the Sweet 16 in a quarter-century.
In the final seconds of a tense finish, Smith found himself defending Kyler Edwards beyond the 3-point arc. Edwards drove into the paint with Smith on his hip and missed a layup, with Arkansas guard JD Notae snagging the rebound and sprinting up court to run the final seconds out and send Arkansas’ reserves spilling onto the court to celebrate.
Moments later, coach Eric Musselman ripped off his mask as he ran off the court to yell to the Razorbacks fans behind one basket and repeatedly pump his fist in exuberance.
That’s because the South Region’s No. 3 seed is off to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1996 under famed former coach Nolan Richardson.
Star freshman Moses Moody had 11 of his 15 points after halftime for Arkansas (24-6).
Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 20 points for the sixth-seeded Red Raiders (18-11).
Buddy Boeheim carries Syracuse to upset of West Virginia
INDIANAPOLIS — Buddy Boeheim carried his father, Jim, to the Hall of Fame coach’s 20th Sweet 16 appearance, scoring 22 of his 25 points after halftime to lead 11th-seeded Syracuse past third-seeded West Virginia in the NCAA tournament on Sunday.
Jim Boeheim’s Orange got the better of another legend, Bob Huggins, in the second March Madness meeting between coaches with at least 900 Division I victories. Huggins won No. 900 when West Virginia beat Morehead State in the first round on Friday. Boeheim got his 982nd at Huggins’ expense.
Syracuse (18-9) advanced to face second-seeded Houston or 10th-seeded Rutgers in a Midwest Regional semifinal.
Buddy “Buckets” Boeheim erupted in the second half, when he made all but one of his six 3-pointers. He finished 6 of 13 from deep and 8 of 17 overall, and he helped put the game away with three late free throws.
While deep tournament runs are nothing new for his dad, it’s the first for Buddy, who was a freshman role player when the Orange lost in the opening round two years ago. Now he’s the Orange’s leading scorer and one of college basketball’s most dangerous shooters. He made two straight 3s just after the break, and his jumper and 3 on consecutive possessions put Syracuse ahead 63-59 with 4:55 left.
Sean McNeil scored 23 points to lead the Mountaineers (19-10), who last made the Sweet 16 in 2018. That was the fifth time West Virginia got that far under Huggins, who also made the regional semis four times with Cincinnati.
WVU trailed 74-72 with 4 seconds left before Boeheim was fouled at midcourt on an inbounds pass. He made one free throw and missed the second, but Miles McBride traveled after grabbing the rebound.
Joe Girard III scored all 12 of his points before halftime, steadying the Orange while Boeheim struggled. Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj also scored 12 each for Syracuse.
Davion Mitchell leads Baylor to victory over Wisconsin
Highlights from Baylor’s second-round NCAA tournament win over Wisconsin on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS — Davion Mitchell scored 16 points and spearheaded a dominant defensive first half, helping top-seeded Baylor avoid another NCAA tournament upset Sunday with a 76-63 win over Wisconsin.
The 2021 bracket has been filled with surprises, the latest by lovable Loyola Chicago over Illinois.
Not long after the Illini became the first No. 1 seed to bow out, the Bears (24-2) looked every bit a Final Four favorite in the first half, smothering Wisconsin with the type of defensive pressure they played before a late-season COVID-19 pause.
Led by Mitchell’s never-give-an-inch style, Baylor made Wisconsin’s senior-heavy lineup uncomfortable with its athleticism and all-out defensive effort.
The Badgers (18-13) showed a bit of fight after being backed into an 18-point corner, rallying to within seven midway through the second half behind D’Mitrik Trice (12 points).
The Bears answered the run with a dash of more D to reach the Sweet 16 for the fifth time under coach Scott Drew. They’ll get Villanova or North Texas next.
The knock on Baylor entering the NCAA tournament was that the Bears weren’t quite as good coming off their second COVID-19 pause as they were while winning the first 18 games of the season.
Dominant Baylor showed up in the opener after a shaky start, hitting 11 3-pointers in a 79-55 win over Hartford.
A short turnaround to prepare for Wisconsin’s grinding style is never easy, which countless teams learned during the Bo Ryan years.
These Bears had no trouble on little rest.
Baylor was at its chest-to-chest best on defense, limiting Wisconsin’s open looks and jumping into passing lanes to create turnovers. Those led to easy transition baskets, like the alley-oop from MaCio Teague to Mark Vital that had the basket still wobbling as the Badgers set up on offense at the other end.
In the half court, Baylor repeatedly got into the lane, setting up a series of lobs and short-range floaters. When Wisconsin packed it in, the Bears went to the 3, the last by Adam Flagler at the buzzer to put Baylor up 42-29.
A March Madness primer on the deep L.A. high school connections of UCLA and USC
There’s no better time than sitting at home and watching March Madness unfold on television while cheering for a local high school basketball standout leading UCLA or USC to victory.
The players were once unknowns except at their neighborhood parks and gyms. Now the rest of the country is learning their names and beginning to understand that California has basketball talent.
Here are some of the major contributors for UCLA and USC who came from Southern California high schools.
No. 8 seed Loyola Chicago takes down No. 1 seed Illinois
Trailing by 8 with just over a minute left, Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu brought the ball up the floor with a chance of pulling the Fighting Illini within two scores of Loyola Chicago. But before he could get a play started, the Ramblers’ Cameron Krutwig got his hand on the ball, which ricocheted off Dosunmu’s hand out of bounds.
It was like that all day for No. 1 seed Illinois, which never led Sunday in a 71-58 humiliation at the hands of No. 8 seed Loyola Chicago.
The Ramblers, three years after making a surprising run to the 2018 Final Four, are back in the Sweet 16 with a group who look determined to replicate that feat.
Krutwig looked like the national player of the year candidate, not Dosunmu, who had six turnovers, none more punishing than that last one. Krutwig, a member of that 2018 team, had 19 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists.
Sister Jean, 101, the nun whose story captivated the country three years ago, was back in attendance in Indianapolis.
This may feel like a Cinderella story, but it really isn’t. Loyola Chicago was a top 10 team this season in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings and appeared to be on the Gonzaga trajectory under coach Porter Moser.
Loyola Chicago leading Illinois at the half
If you thought the Madness would stabilize in the second round after four major upsets in the NCAA men’s tournament first round, Loyola Chicago had some news for the nation Sunday morning: The underdogs may just be getting started.
The eighth-seeded Ramblers led No. 1 seed Illinois 33-24 at halftime, catching the Fighting Illini, one of the hottest teams in the country the last month, sleepwalking.
One would think that Loyola Chicago’s trip to the Final Four in 2018 would have kept Illinois wide awake the last two nights. The Ramblers, with 101-year-old Sister Jean looking on in Indianapolis, looked like the top seed in the first 20 minutes.
Big man Cameron Krutwig, who was a freshman on the 2018 team, controlled the action with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Illinois will need much more from its stars, national player of the year candidate Ayo Dosunmu and big man Kofi Cockburn, in the second half. They combined for just 9 points.
‘Some people ought to be ashamed’: Mick Cronin says experts who dismissed Pac-12 were asleep on the job
Basketball fans on the East Coast who miss Pac-12 games because they stretch past the closures of Taco Bell drive-throughs were probably already slumbering when UCLA coach Mick Cronin essentially said experts who dismissed his conference were asleep on the job.
The Pac-12 joined the Big Ten in going unbeaten through the first round of the NCAA tournament, keeping alive Bruins legend and legendary absurdist Bill Walton’s dream bracket of five Pac-12 teams in the Final Four, were that somehow possible.
After joking about not being able to stay up late like those East Coast fans because he lived in Southern California, where he likes to rise with the sun, Cronin lambasted pollsters who kept Pac-12 teams on the fringe of the national rankings all season.
The conference has placed five teams into the second round, going 5-0 so far, including UCLA’s First Four victory over Michigan State. Oregon also advanced after Virginia Commonwealth was forced to withdraw following multiple positive tests for the coronavirus.
Abilene Christian upsets No. 3 Texas for its first-ever NCAA tournament win
Highlights from Abilene Christian’s victory over Texas in the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Abilene Christian made its first-ever NCAA tournament win a memorable one.
Joe Pleasant made two free throws with just over a second left to lift the 14th-seeded Wildcats to a stunning, 53-52 victory over No. 3 Texas in the opening round of the West Regional.
Overmatching Texas with its tenacity and aggressiveness for most of the game, Abilene Christian forced the Longhorns into 25 turnovers and shut them out completely on second-chance points.
Pleasant finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, and teammate Coryon Mason also had 11 points. Andrew Jones led Texas (19-8) with 13 points.
Abilene Christian (24-4) will play UCLA, which defeated BYU, in the second round on Monday.
Until then, the Wildcats will be dancin’.
Johnny Juzang lifts UCLA to first-round win over BYU
INDIANAPOLIS — The ball came off the rim and Jaime Jaquez Jr. powered his way toward it, ripping it away from the counterpart who held a nine-inch height advantage.
The overmatched 7-foot-3 center fell to the court in agony along the baseline. Jaquez and UCLA were on the attack once again, taking it to Brigham Young.
The Bruins built a double-digit halftime lead on the strength of Johnny Juzang’s shot-making and prevailed thanks to the toughness of Jaquez and others, pulling out a 73-62 victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Top-seeded Gonzaga rolls to 98-55 blowout win over Norfolk State
Gonzaga didn’t hit triple digits in its NCAA tournament opener as the No. 1 overall seed, but the Bulldogs still looked the part in a 98-55 blowout of No. 16 seed Norfolk State.
Anyone doubting how former Cinderella Gonzaga would handle the label of favorite to win the whole thing got a reminder that Mark Few’s program actually has been playing at a No. 1-seed level for years now.
Corey Kispert scored 23 points and made six of nine three-point attempts, making up for a quiet game from star freshman point guard Jalen Suggs, who had six points and four turnovers.
Gonzaga will face Oklahoma on Monday in the second round.
Start times and TV channels for Sunday’s second-round games
Here are the start times and TV channels for Sunday’s second-round NCAA tournament games.
The games can be streamed via MarchMadness.com or the March Madness app for iOS and Android devices. All times Pacific.
Texas trying to fend off upset bid by feisty Abilene Christian
Abilene Christian is bringing the intensity, but will it be enough to pull off an epic upset?
Third-seeded Texas seemed to be caught off guard by the Wildcats’ energy early on, but that hasn’t stopped the Longhorns from clawing out a 28-23 halftime lead over 14th-seeded Abilene Christian in the East Regional.
The Longhorns held Abilene Christian scoreless over the last seven minutes of the half as part of a 6-0 run that culminated with a Kai Jones dunk in the closing seconds.
Jones has seven points and two rebounds for Texas, which has turned over the ball 12 times. Joe Pleasant has seven points for Abilene Christian, which missed its last 12 shots of the half.
The momentum seems to be in the Longhorns’ favor, but can they maintain it against an Abilene Christian team that seems determined to stick around until the end? Just check out how intense the Wildcats are:
Corey Kispert off to fast start for Gonzaga against Norfolk State
Gonzaga reminded the rest of the NCAA tournament field of a key to staying in the ballgame with the Bulldogs: You might want to guard Corey Kispert.
Kispert, a national player of the year candidate, made five of seven from three-point range for 15 points to lead Gonzaga to a 43-23 halftime lead over Norfolk State.
The Zags are the No. 1 overall seed in the field and had to wait until the tournament’s last TV viewing window to show why. Gonzaga has so many players who can get hot, which can help it cover from a lesser performance like Jalen Suggs’ two-point first half.
Gonzaga will be on cruise control the rest of this one and, barring the biggest miracle in college basketball history, will face No. 8 seed Oklahoma in the Round of 32 on Monday.
Oklahoma shows its resolve in 72-68 victory over Missouri
After a game characterized by razor-thin score margins and clutch performances, Oklahoma can feel good about moving on to the Round of 32 — even if the Sooners got unintended help from Missouri in the closing seconds.
Despite playing without second-leading scorer De’Vion Harmon, eighth-seeded Oklahoma managed to chisel out a tiny bit of breathing space in the second half and hold on for a 72-68 victory over No. 9 Missouri on Saturday.
The Sooners led 67-59 with two minutes remaining before the Tigers closed to within three points with 10 seconds left. On their penultimate possession, the Tigers tried to work the ball inside instead of looking for a game-tying perimeter shot — and they drained eight seconds off the clock before Oklahoma’s Elijah Harkless fouled Drew Buggs with two seconds left.
With their best chance to tie the score gone, Buggs rimmed his second free-throw attempt as Missouri tried to score off the boards. But Jalen Hill got the rebound, sealing the Tigers’ fate.
Despite the Tigers’ questionable late strategy, the game was close throughout, with neither team gaining much of an advantage until Oklahoma went on a 7-0 run to take a short-lived eight-point lead.
Austin Reaves scored a game-high 23 points and had six assists, and teammate Brady Manek added 19 points for Oklahoma (16-10). Harmon was unable to play after testing positive for COVID-19.
Dru Smith had a team-best 22 points for Missouri (16-10).
The Sooners will play the winner of Gonzaga vs. Norfolk State in the second round.
Maryland shows its toughness in victory over Connecticut
Highlights from Maryland’s win over Connecticut on Saturday.
Maryland took every haymaker Connecticut had Saturday and kept its footing over and over again in a 63-54 victory, and the Terrapins look like a squad that could mess with some brackets and make their first Sweet 16 since 2016.
No. 10 seed Maryland (17-13) will take on No. 2 seed Alabama in the round of 32 on Monday thanks to Eric Ayala’s 23 points and suffocating defense that should put fear into the Crimson Tide.
UConn entered the tournament as a popular pick to make some noise like old times, led by talented sophomore guard James Bouknight. But the Terrapins held Bouknight to 15 points on six-of-16 shooting, and UConn shot just 33% as a team.
Maryland was efficient offensively, shooting 51% and spreading the ball around to Aaron Wiggins (14 points) and Donta Scott (12 points).
No. 13 Ohio upsets reigning national champions Virginia in thriller
Woe be to any team that underestimates Ben Vander Plas and the Ohio Bobcats in the NCAA tournament.
Thirteenth-seeded Ohio became the latest squad to be crowned a 2021 Cinderella with a 62-58 upset over No. 4 Virginia in the West Regional.
Vander Plas made a three-pointer with 7:44 left in regulation as part of a 16-2 run to give Ohio its first lead in the game. He then hit another three-pointer seconds later as he went on to score 10 consecutive points to give the Bobcats a 47-40 lead.
The Cavaliers closed to within two, but Ben Roderick followed with a layup and then made an incredible three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer to give Ohio a seven-point lead.
Virginia (18-8), however, wouldn’t give up. Jay Huff scored on a jumper with 19 seconds left, then made a layup six seconds later to pull the Cavaliers to within three. After Mark Sears made a pair of free throws for Ohio, Trent Murphy III immediately responded with a three-pointer to cut the Bobcats’ lead to two.
But after Lunden McDay made two free throws for Ohio (18-7) with five seconds left, Virginia’s last-gasp attempt at the buzzer was too little, too late.
Vander Plas finished with 17 points and five rebounds, and Roderick added 15 points. Each had a trio of three-pointers. Sam Hauser led the defending national champions with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Ohio will face No. 5 Creighton, which beat UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, in the second round.
Highlights from Ohio’s upset win over Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Iowa defeats Grand Canyon, will play Oregon in second round
Second-seeded Iowa pulled away in the second half to defeat 15th-seeded Grand Canyon University 86-74 in the opening round of the West Regional on Saturday.
Luka Garza led the way with 24 points and six rebounds for Iowa (22-8) and teammate Joe Wieskamp contributed 16 points and eight rebounds.
Asbjorn Midtgaard finished with 18 points and six rebounds for Grand Canyon (17-7), which was making its NCAA tournament debut.
Iowa will play Oregon, which advanced to the second round after its game against Virginia Commonwealth was declared a no-contest by the NCAA because of positive coronavirus tests within VCU’s program.
USC pulls away to defeat Drake in NCAA tournament first-round game
Highlights from USC’s win over Drake in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Tenacious defense had taken USC this far, back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years, primed for a possible postseason run at a pivotal point in Andy Enfield’s eighth season at the helm. So when the Trojans finally decided to clamp down in their tournament debut Saturday, Drake quickly came apart.
A huge first-half from Joseph Yesufu, the Bulldogs’ fearless point guard, kept Drake alive for the first half and the few minutes that followed. But it wasn’t enough to upend an elite defensive effort from USC, which eventually rolled to a 72-56 victory in a West Region game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The sixth-seeded Trojans (23-7) will face third-seeded Kansas on Monday, with a chance to earn an invite to their first Sweet 16 since 2007, seven years before Enfield took the job at USC.
Maryland’s stifling defense the difference in 33-22 halftime lead over Connecticut
The Maryland Terrapins’ defense was so ferocious in the first half against Connecticut that they allowed the Huskies 18 offensive rebounds over 20 minutes and still went to halftime with a 33-22 lead.
No. 10 seed Maryland held No. 7 seed Connecticut to 23% shooting from the field and stifled Huskies star guard James Bouknight into a three-of-11 effort. Bouknight had seven points, but he’ll have to do much more to get the Huskies back into it.
The winner will play No. 2 seed Alabama on Monday in the round of 32.
Maryland was led by guard Eric Ayala, who had 14 points and two steals.
Virginia holds one-point halftime lead over Ohio
Virginia is struggling to find some breathing room after a spirited start by Ohio on Saturday.
The fourth-seeded Cavaliers lead the 13th-seeded Bobcats 28-27 at halftime of their West Region first-round matchup.
The game was close throughout the first half. After Virginia managed to take a five-point lead, Ohio rallied back. Ben Vander Plas made a three-pointer with three seconds left in the half to pull the Bobcats to within one.
Both teams are shooting 36% from the floor, but Ohio is outrebounding Virginia, 21-15.
Ben Roderick has eight points and Vander Plas has seven for the Bobcats.
Sam Hauser, Trey Murphy III and Kihei Clark each have six for Virginia.
Will the Bobcats be the next Cinderella team dancing into the round of 32?
Iowa holds onto an 11-point lead over Grand Canyon at halftime
Iowa is doing everything it can to make sure Grand Canyon University doesn’t try to pull off an Oral Roberts-like upset.
Behind strong starts from Joe Wieskamp and Keegan Murray, the second-seeded Hawkeyes lead the 15th-seeded Antelopes 42-31 at halftime in their West Region first-round matchup.
Wieskamp leads Iowa with 11 points, including an important three-pointer late in the half that gave the Hawkeyes an 11 point lead — a margin they held until halftime. Keegan has nine points off the bench and Luka Garza has eight points and six rebounds for an Iowa team that has shot 55% from the field.
Still, Grand Canyon isn’t letting Iowa sprint away. The Antelopes have found some success down low challenging Iowa’s big men while also keeping the Hawkeyes honest on the perimeter.
Iowa has struggled to contain Gabe McGlothan, who has 15 points and five rebounds for Grand Canyon.
Oregon vs. VCU declared a no-contest because of COVID-19 issues; Ducks advance
Saturday afternoon, March Madness truly began, 2020 style.
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee announced that the Oregon-Virginia Commonwealth game scheduled for Saturday night is a no contest because of issues with COVID-19 protocols at VCU.
The seventh-seeded Ducks will advance to play the winner of the Iowa-Grand Canyon game on Monday in the round of 32.
“This decision was made in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department,” the NCAA release said. “As a result, Oregon will advance to the next round of the tournament. The NCAA and the committee regret that VCU’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to play in a tournament in which they earned the right to participate.”
The Pac-12, already 4-0 in this tournament, didn’t need to improve to 5-0 to get a fourth team to the second round, where the Ducks will join USC, Oregon State and Colorado. UCLA, which plays Brigham Young later Saturday, could be the league’s fifth team in the round of 32.
The NCAA tournament’s plan for COVID issues locked in the tournament field on Tuesday night. So, on short notice, there was no ability to add a last-minute replacement team to the field in place of VCU.
Alabama cleans up first-half mistakes to put away Iona
Iona’s bid to be the second No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament came up short.
The Gaels fell to Alabama 68-55 in the first round in a game that saw momentum swings on both sides throughout.
The Gaels only trailed 33-32 at the half and traded lead changes, but the Crimson Tide put on an impressive 15-2 run late to take a 62-51 lead with 2:38 left in the game.
Alabama was plagued with turnovers in the first half, committing 10, but cleaned it up in the second half with only four to pull away from Iona.
Both teams struggled with shooting. The Crimson Tide made 25 of 53 (47.2%) field goals while the Gaels made 23 out of 59 (39%).
Herbert Jones led Alabama with 20 points and six rebounds. The Alabama bench also contributed with 23 points.
Isaiah Ross led Iona with 19 points and five rebounds.
No. 2 seeded Alabama will meet the winner between seventh-seeded Connecticut and 10th-seeded Maryland in the second round on Monday.
UC Santa Barbara falls to Creighton in NCAA tournament heartbreaker
INDIANAPOLIS — The upset, and the rare moment of national glory, was UC Santa Barbara’s for the taking.
Swarmed on the wing, star guard JaQuori McLaughlin split two defenders with a pass that found forward Amadou Sow in the paint in the final seconds of the Gauchos’ first-round NCAA tournament game against Creighton.
Sow had given his team a one-point lead on a similar sequence only moments earlier, taking a pass from McLaughlin and making two free throws after getting fouled.
USC holds onto slim lead over Drake at halftime
USC has the size. It has the length. And it has the 7-foot lottery pick, scoring at will and swatting everything in his path.
But as the Trojans opened their first tournament run in four years Saturday, they had no answer for Drake’s Joseph Yesufu. The Bulldogs’ smooth point guard exploded for 18 first-half points, keeping Drake close even as USC came out of the gates firing.
USC still clings to a 40-37 lead over 11-seed Drake at the half, thanks to freshman Evan Mobley, who scored 13 points, racked up eight rebounds, and swatted three shots.
While USC struggled to stop Yesufu, Drake seemed lost in its efforts to slow down Mobley, whose presence alone kept the Bulldogs out of the paint. When Darnell Brodie, Drake’s only player taller than 6-foot-6, tried to challenge Mobley underneath midway through the half, the freshman offered him a rude awakening, blocking two straight attempts next to the basket.
USC shot 53% in the first half, an impressive rate that might’ve suggested a better first-half result. But the Trojans struggled from the stripe, hitting just 3 of 9 free throws and were outrebounded, 19-15, in spite of their major size advantage.
That length didn’t seem to discourage Yesufu, who played the full 40 minutes in Drake’s First Four win over Wichita State. But that didn’t seem to slow him down Saturday. The Bulldogs point guard exploded for 11 of the team’s first 13 points.
The winner will face third-seeded Kansas in the second round Monday, after the Jayhawks escaped against Eastern Washington. USC has advanced to the second round only once during the Andy Enfield era, narrowly losing to Baylor in 2017. Before that, the Trojans hadn’t seen the second round since 2009, under former coach Tim Floyd.
Michigan overcomes sluggish second half to beat Texas Southern
The Michigan Wolverines better hope they got their sluggishness out of the way Saturday in a 82-66 victory over No. 16 seed Texas Southern.
The Tigers beat Michigan in the second half 42-40 and cut the Wolverines’ 18-point halftime lead to 12 at one point. It wasn’t a performance typical of Juwan Howard’s team, which won the Big Ten regular season title, but it was more than enough to advance to the round of 32 against No. 8 seed Louisiana State on Monday.
Michigan is still figuring itself out without leading scorer Isaiah Livers, who is out indefinitely with a stress injury in his foot. The Wolverines will have to raise their level to beat LSU, which eased past St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson was efficient, scoring 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Senior point guard Mike Smith, a graduate transfer from Columbia, continued his late-season emergence with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Texas Southern stayed in the game thanks to 24 points from Michael Weathers.
Iona keeping it close with Alabama at the half
Alabama and Iona are in a tight one at halftime with the Crimson Tide leading 33-32.
The Gaels closed out the half on a 7-0 run to only trail the Crimson Tide by a point.
Herbert Jones leads the Crimson Tide with 12 points and three rebounds.
Isaiah Ross leads the Gaels with 15 points and three rebounds.
It’s been a back-and-forth affair between the teams. Alabama was up 22-14 until Iona went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead 22-21 and then took the lead with a layup from Ross with 5:25 left before the half.
The teams traded 7-0 runs to end the half.
The Crimson Tide already have 10 turnovers.
UC Santa Barbara trails Creighton at halftime 34-30
INDIANAPOLIS — If they went shirts and skins, the starters from both teams lining up and being chosen according to perceived level of talent, Creighton might have had three or four of the first five players selected.
The obvious exception, of course, would have belonged to UC Santa Barbara.
America, meet JaQuori McLaughlin.
The feathery guard announced his arrival on college basketball’s biggest stage Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium. Rising for a three-pointer less than two minutes into the Gauchos’ first-round NCAA tournament game, McLaughlin sparked a quick celebration on the bench, his teammates hopping and waving their arms in glee.
There was more cheering to come. McLaughlin blocked a shot in transition, threw an alley-oop pass and thrust a triumphant finger into the air before the final minutes of the first half belonged almost exclusively to Creighton.
Back-to-back three-pointers and a driving layup high off the backboard by Marcus Zegarowski helped the Bluejays take a 34-30 halftime lead in Santa Barbara’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.
The winner of this game will face either No. 4 seed Virginia or No. 13 seed Ohio in the second round on Monday. The Gauchos have gone 1-5 in the NCAA tournament, their one victory coming over Houston in the first round in 1990.
Zegarowski led all scorers with 11 points at the game’s midpoint. McLaughlin and Miles Norris had seven points each for the Gauchos, who were outscored 13-4 to end the half.
Top-seeded Michigan jumps out to big halftime lead over Texas Southern
Juwan Howard’s debut as a head coach in the NCAA tournament is going much better than Patrick Ewing’s did earlier Saturday. Of course, it helps that Michigan is a No. 1 seed playing against No. 16 seed Texas Southern.
The Wolverines led 42-24 at halftime behind a balanced effort led by Franz Wagner, who has six points, six rebounds and four assists. Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson had eight points and is 3 of 3 from the field.
With a win, Michigan would advance to play No. 8 seed Louisiana State on Monday.
The Wolverines are playing their second game without leading scorer Isaiah Livers, who is likely out for the remainder of the tournament with a stress injury in his foot.
Livers is one of the leaders of the #NotNCAAProperty movement and wore a black T-shirt featuring the hashtag. Being one of the team’s stars, the message — which is attempting to pressure the NCAA into approving new rules on name, image and likeness — made it onto CBS’ broadcast numerous times in the first half.
Kansas overcomes lackluster start to block Eastern Washington’s Cinderella bid
Eastern Washington made it far from easy, but third-seeded Kansas is moving on to the round of 32.
After a lackluster first half, the Jayhawks leaned on defensive adjustments and improved perimeter shooting to deny Eastern Washington’s Cinderella bid in a 93-84 West Regional win.
Kansas trailed by as many as 10 early in the second half before embarking on a 13-3 run that included Dajuan Harris hitting a three-pointer to give the Jayhawks a lead they would hold on to for the rest of the game. Kansas slowly pulled away over the next few minutes, eventually taking a 12-point lead.
Eastern Washington (16-8), however, never gave up. Tanner Groves was virtually unstoppable for the Eagles, scoring a career-high 35 points. He spearheaded a late surge in the closing minutes, but it wasn’t enough to pull off the upset. Kansas (21-8) was able to slow down Tanner’s brother, Jacob, who was limited to seven points after scoring 16 in the first half.
Marcus Garrett and David McCormack played leading roles in the Jayhawks’ second-half surge. Garrett finished with 23 points and eight rebounds and McCormack added 22 points and nine rebounds. Harris finished with 13 points and was three of four from three-point range.
Kansas will play the winner of the USC vs. Drake game in the second round.
Florida State holds off UNC Greensboro to avoid upset
Florida State avoided an upset by defeating UNC Greensboro 64-54 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
After leading 29-26 at the half, the Seminoles opened up with a 12-2 run to increase their lead 41-29. However, the Spartans fought back and kept pace to trail only 51-50 with 4:52 left in the game.
Florida State’s defense locked onto UNC Greensboro to limit the Spartans to only one field goal the last five minutes of the game.
RaiQuan Gray led the Seminoles with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Isaiah Miller led the Spartans with 17 points and five rebounds.
Three-pointers were not going in for both teams. Florida State was 0 for 9 from three-point range while UNC Greensboro was 7 for 27.
The No. 4 seeded Seminoles will meet No. 5 seeded Colorado in the second round Monday. The Buffaloes routed No. 12 seeded Georgetown 96-73.
Colorado cruises into second round as Pac-12 improves to 3-0 in tourney
The Pac-12 is 3-0 in this NCAA tournament, and the third win came with an exclamation point Saturday as Colorado walloped Georgetown 96-73 to advance to the round of 32 on Monday.
The fifth-seeded Buffaloes shot a ridiculous 64% (16 of 25) from three-point range and never let the 12th-seeded Hoyas use the mojo they found last week in winning the Big East tournament.
Colorado will play the winner of No. 4 Florida State and No. 13 UNC Greensboro.
The Buffaloes had 27 assists — their most since 2009 — and were led by McKinley Wright IV’s 13. Wright added 12 points, but most of the scoring load was handled by Jabari Walker, who had 24 points and made all five of his threes.
Georgetown had no answers for Colorado in Patrick Ewing’s first NCAA tournament game as a head coach.
Colorado joined UCLA and Oregon State as Pac-12 schools to advance. The Bruins, USC and Oregon play later Saturday for a trip to the round of 32.
Eastern Washington trying to play spoiler vs. Kansas
Eastern Washington is making life very uncomfortable for third-seeded Kansas and its bracket faithful.
Led by brothers Jacob and Tanner Groves, 14th-seeded Eastern Washington jumped out to a surprising 46-38 halftime lead over the Jayhawks in their West Region first-round matchup.
The Eagles have looked confident from the start. They opened on a 9-0 run before Kansas stormed back to take the lead. But it didn’t take long for the Eagles to inch back ahead thanks, in part, to their 58% shooting from the field.
Kansas also hasn’t been able to stop the brothers Groves. Jacob Groves has 16 points and five rebounds and Tanner Groves also has 16 points. They’ve combined for six three-pointers against a Jayhawks squad struggling to stop the Eagles’ perimeter attack.
Marcus Garrett leads Kansas with 12 points and four rebounds — he also has three fouls.
Unless Kansas can make some adjustments in the second half, Eastern Washington is in a prime spot to earn a Cinderella crown. Kansas, however, has shown today that it’s capable of rallying quickly if necessary.
Florida State holds slim lead over UNC Greensboro at the half
UNC Greensboro is looking to be the next No. 13 seed to upset a No. 4 seed.
The Spartans trail Florida State 29-26 at halftime in a game that has been a defensive battle.
The Seminoles came out fast with a 23-7 lead. But the Spartans answered with an 11-2 run to cut the lead down 25-18.
Keyshuan Langley made a key four-point play with 36.9 seconds left before the half to cut the Seminoles’ lead to three.
Raiquan Gray leads the Seminoles in scoring with 10 points and three rebounds.
Langley leads the Spartans with 10 points and two assists.
Florida State, known to shoot behind the arc, is 0 for 8 in three-point shooting at the half.
Rising to the occasion at the NCAA tournament
Your favorite team can’t advance in the NCAA tournament without Brandon Tischbein.
He’s one of the hardy souls who go airborne to affix the 4-by-25-foot team stickers onto the giant NCAA tournament bracket adhered to the side of the JW Marriott that’s a central hub of tournament activity.
Tischbein and a co-worker rose on a swing stage to near the top of the 34-story hotel on a brisk Saturday morning, positioning two of the First Four winners onto the 47,000-square-foot graphic.
“It’s a big one, yeah,” said Tischbein, an Indianapolis native whose day job usually involves wrapping graphics onto cars. “A world record-breaker.”
Colorado representing Pac-12 well against Georgetown
The Pac-12’s message to the country continued in resounding fashion to kick off Saturday’s slate of first-round games as the Colorado Buffaloes stampeded to a 47-23 halftime lead over Georgetown.
No. 5 seed Colorado was on fire, making 11 of 17 threes, led by Jabari Walker’s four three-pointers that quickly put the 12th-seeded Hoyas on their heels. Colorado point guard McKinley Wright IV already has eight assists.
Barring a monumental meltdown, the Pac-12 will improve to 3-0 in this tournament after UCLA beat Michigan State Thursday night and Oregon State thumped Tennessee on Friday.
Oregon, UCLA and USC will all be in action later Saturday, hoping to continue the pristine work being done by the league — assumed all year to be the worst of the “big six” basketball conferences.
Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell receives death threats after upset loss. Justin Turner shows support
An ugly side of humanity appeared in Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell’s Instagram messages after the Buckeyes’ shocking loss to Oral Roberts in the NCAA tournament first round Friday.
Liddell received a string of messages that included death threats, he revealed on his Twitter account (@EasyE2432).
“Honestly, what did I do to deserve this?” Liddell tweeted. “I’m human.”
What Liddell did Friday was put up a monster line of 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. He was one of the only reasons No. 2-seeded Ohio State had a chance to win the game in overtime. Liddell is one of the best young players in the Big Ten Conference.
Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann tweeted Saturday morning, “Recent social media comments to EJ Liddell, while not from or representative of Ohio State fans, are vile, dangerous and reflect the worst of humanity. EJ is an outstanding young man who had a tremendous sophomore season and he was instrumental in our team’s success. We will take the necessary actions to address this immediately.”
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters that the athletic department helped Liddell with filing a complaint to university police.
“To the few of you who have chosen to inappropriately rail against our players on social media, stop,” Smith posted on Twitter.
Dodgers’ Justin Turner defended Liddell on Twitter sharing his frustration with why people use social media to “spew hate.”
Miles McBride leads West Virginia to victory over Morehead State
Miles McBride finished with 30 points and six rebounds as West Virginia overcame a sluggish start to defeat Morehead State 84-67 and give Bob Huggins his 900th career coaching victory.
After No. 14 Morehead State (23-8) managed to pull to within one point of No. 3 West Virginia (19-9) with 14 minutes left in the second half, the Mountaineers pulled away on an 11-0 run. With McBride leading the way, West Virginia continued to slowly add to their lead over the closing minutes.
Jalen Bridges had 15 points and five rebounds for West Virginia. DeVon Cooper finished with 21 points and four rebounds for Morehead State.
The Mountaineers will play No. 11 Syracuse in the second round. Syracuse defeated San Diego State 78-62 on Friday.
Villanova overcomes rough first half to defeat Winthrop
Villanova isn’t the same team that won the NCAA title three years ago, but the Wildcats can feel a little good about the resiliency they showed against Winthrop in the first round of the South Regional on Friday.
Even though the fifth-seeded Wildcats were the big favorite, they overcame a rough first half by limiting the turnovers and playing more physical on defense in a 73-63 victory over 12th-seeded Winthrop.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the Wildcats (17-6) with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Teammate Justin Moore added 15 points and three rebounds. D.J. Burns Jr. finished with 12 points for Winthrop (23-2).
The Wildcats return to the round of 32 for the seventh consecutive season to play North Texas, the upset winner over Purdue.
Buddy Boeheim propels Syracuse to blowout victory over San Diego State
A Syracuse Orange team that is on the bubble and squeezes into the NCAA tournament field already has proven to be dangerous.
Throw in a coach’s son that can’t miss? Watch out.
Buddy Boeheim scored 30 points, making seven of 10 from three-point range, to lead Syracuse to a blowout victory over San Diego State that wasn’t as close as the 78-62 final score might indicate.
Jim Boeheim can get used to this. When Buddy was born in 1999, Syracuse was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Big East, looking for its first national championship (which it would earn in 2003). Could Jim have imagined that Buddy would be shooting him and the Orange into the round of 32 in 2021?
No. 6 seed San Diego State made it easy on the 11th-seeded Orange, shooting just 22.6% from the field in the first half. Syracuse finished the half on an 18-0 run, signaling that this wasn’t going to be the Aztecs’ night.
Syracuse awaits the winner of West Virginia-Morehead State.
Rutgers upsets Clemson for first NCAA tournament win in 38 years
For the first time in 38 years, Rutgers is an NCAA tournament game winner.
Behind a stifling defensive effort that prevented Clemson from scoring over the last two-plus minutes of the game, 10th-seeded Rutgers upset seventh-seeded Clemson 60-56 in first round of the Midwest Region.
Geo Baker’s three pointer with 3:48 left turned out to be the game-clinching basket. From there, the Scarlet Knights shut down Clemson and put the game away when Baker scored on a layup in the final seconds off a rebound.
Baker and Jacob Young each finished with 13 points for Rutgers (16-11). Aamir Simms led Clemson (16-8) with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Rutgers will play second-seeded Houston in the second round.
After fast start Villanova fades to hold slim halftime lead over Winthrop
If you haven’t already, be sure to add Winthrop to your Cinderella watch list.
No matter what it tried, fifth-seeded Villanova couldn’t shake No. 12 Winthrop in the first half of their South Region showdown. The Wildcats hold onto a 34-33 halftime lead after the teams exchanged leads four times in the opening frame.
After Villanova jumped out to a 18-9 lead in the opening minutes, Winthrop went on 12-3 run to take the lead briefly on a D.J. Burns Jr. jumper with 6:02 left in the half. From there, it was like a prizefight as both teams traded leads and tried to pull away to no avail.
Winthrop is finding success inside the paint, testing Villanova down low while also testing the Wildcats’ perimeter defense. If Villanova can shutdown the lanes to the basket, this could go down to the wire.
Burns leads Winthrop (23-1) with nine points and three rebounds. Justin Moore has 10 points for Villanova (16-6).
Can Winthrop keep it up for another half and join the ranks of the newly crowned NCAA tournament Cinderellas?
Syracuse goes on huge run to take 32-18 halftime lead over San Diego State
Syracuse scored the last 18 points of the first half to put San Diego State on the verge of an early exit in the NCAA tournament.
The 11th-seeded Orange trailed 18-14 but now lead 32-18 and are firmly in control of the first-round matchup.
No. 6 seed San Diego State is so cold that the Aztecs would need to have their plane back to San Diego de-iced. They’re shooting 22.6% from the field and 15% from three against Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone.
Of course, it’s not as if teams don’t know how to play against this zone. For some reason, it becomes much harder to do in the crucible of March Madness.
San Diego State has to figure out a new strategy offensively, but it also may want to get a hand in Buddy Boeheim’s face on defense. Boeheim has 16 points and has made three of four threes.
Javion Hamlet pushes North Texas to upset over Purdue
INDIANAPOLIS — To be, or not to be? For an underdog named Javion Hamlet and his group of scrapping North Texas teammates, that was an easy question.
Hamlet scored 24 points and Thomas Bell had 16, along with some game-changing defense in overtime, to lift the 13th-seeded Mean Green to a 78-69 win over No. 4 Purdue on Friday in the NCAA Tournament.
It marked the second teen-powered upset of the Big Ten on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament — this one coming hours after No. 15 Oral Roberts knocked out Ohio State.
What a great prize for Hamlet and Bell, a pair of seniors who led the Mean Green (18-9) to a regular-season Conference USA title last year but missed a chance at the tournament when the season was canceled by COVID-19.
They made sure things kept going this time.
Bell opened overtime with a 3, then altered two Purdue shots underneath to help the Mean Green turn the extra session into a laugh. North Texas scored the first 11 points.
Hamlet did most of his damage during a pair of sublime 8-0 personal runs in the second half, each of which stopped the Purdue (17-10) momentum in its tracks. The second was a twisting, spinning, dribbling display of mastery in the paint. It gave North Texas a nine-point lead with 7:45 left.
The Boilermakers scratched back and tied it at 61 on Trevion Williams’ putback with 21 seconds left.
Clemson holds onto slim lead over Rutgers at halftime
Clemson’s NCAA tournament hasn’t gotten off to the greatest start, but the Tigers still hold onto a slim halftime lead.
Despite struggling with its shooting, Clemson leads Rutgers 26-23 at halftime in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
Rutgers guard Ron Harper Jr. has been the standout of the game so far. His thunderous dunk early on gave Clemson a taste of what to expect from the 6-foot-6 junior guard. He has eight points and three rebounds so far for the Scarlet Knights (15-11).
Aamir Simms and Al-Amir Dawes each have eight points for Clemson (16-7).
UC Santa Barbara set to play Creighton in first round on Saturday
UC Santa Barbara’s 10-year wait to play again in the NCAA tournament ends Saturday.
The Gauchos (22-4), who won the Big West regular-season championship and the conference tournament title, play Creighton in a West Region first-round game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Santa Barbara’s last game in the NCAA tournament came in 2011 when the Gauchos, as a No. 15 seed, lost to No. 2 Florida 79-51 in the first round. Their last victory in the tournament was in 1990.
Santa Barbara is a No. 12 seed this season and enters the game having won 18 of 19 games. Creighton (20-8) is coming off a 73-48 loss to Georgetown in the Big East title game.
The scoring for the Blue Jays comes mostly from the trio of Damien Jefferson, Denzel Mahoney and Mitch Ballock. They have accounted for 45% of the team’s points.
The winner of the Santa Barbara-Creighton game plays the winner of No. 4 Virginia and No. 13 Ohio on Monday in the second round.
Houston pulls away in second half of blowout over Cleveland State
After failing to shake Cleveland State in the first half, a determined Houston team made sure the Vikings’ Cinderella bid wouldn’t survive long after halftime.
Behind an offensive surge ignited by Quentin Grimes, Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, second-seeded Houston dominated the second half on the way to an 87-56 win over No. 15 Cleveland State.
Grimes finished with 18 points and four rebounds, and Mark had 15 points, three rebounds and three steals for Houston (25-3). Sasser finished with 14 points.
D’Moi Hodge scored a team-high 11 points for Cleveland State (19-8).
Houston will play the winner of the Clemson vs. Rutgers game in the second round.
Wisconsin impresses in dominating victory over North Carolina
Wisconsin delivered one of the surprises of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
Behind a consistent scoring effort that left North Carolina unable to claw back from a big halftime deficit, the ninth-seeded Badgers defeated the eighth-seeded Tar Heels 85-62 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
North Carolina trailed by 16 at halftime and, no matter what they tried, the Tar Heels just couldn’t pull themselves back into the game. Wisconsin executed to near-perfection with a strong defensive effort that limited North Carolina to 39 percent shooting from the floor.
Brad Davison played a big role for the Badgers (18-12), finishing with 29 points and six rebounds to pace Wisconsin’s metronome-like offense. Teammate D’Mitrik Trice finished with 21 points.
Armando Bacot scored a team-high 15 points for the Tar Heels (18-11).
For North Carolina coach Roy Williams, it marks the first time he’s lost in the first round of the tournament.
Oklahoma State and Cade Cunningham come alive in win over Liberty
Oklahoma State recovered from a slow start against Liberty to easily avoid the Flames’ upset bid, winning 69-60 Friday in the NCAA tournament first round.
The fourth-seeded Cowboys sent a message about their ability to win beyond projected No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham, who had just one point in the first half and finished with 15.
Cunningham made just 3 of 14 shots but the Cowboys’ supporting cast picked him up. Avery Anderson III had 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals; Isaac Likekele had 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists; and Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe had 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Oklahoma State will face No. 12 seed Oregon State, which has turned into one of the hottest teams in the country late this season after winning the Pac-12 tournament last week.
Houston trying to fend off spirited push by Cleveland State
Fifteenth-seeded Cleveland State isn’t making things easy for second-seeded Houston in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
Houston leads 37-29 at halftime, but thanks to a 10-2 run late in the half, the Vikings are within striking distance.
Cleveland State (19-7) is outshooting Houston (24-3) from the field and at at three-point range, but the Cougars are winning the rebound battle.
Justin Gorham and Fabian White Jr. lead the Cougars on the scoresheet with eight points each, and D’Moi Hodge has a team-best eight points for Cleveland State.
Wisconsin capitalizing on North Carolina’s mistakes to take halftime lead
Better shooting and stingier defense are serving ninth-seeded Wisconsin well in its first-round matchup with eighth-seeded North Carolina.
The Badgers jumped out to a 40-24 lead over the Tar Heels at halftime behind a solid effort spearheaded by Brad Davison and D’Mitrik Trice. Davison has a game-high 16 points and four rebounds, and Trice has 10 points and four rebounds. Kerwin Walton and Caleb Love each have five points for North Carolina.
Wisconsin (17-12) has held North Carolina (18-10) to 31% shooting from the field.
Roy Williams will have to get his players to find another gear if they have any hopes of coming back from their 16-point deficit.
Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham struggling mightily against Liberty
Cade Cunningham won’t want NBA scouts and general managers to review the film from the first half of Friday’s first round NCAA tournament game against Liberty.
Cunningham was 0 for 5 from the field, scored one point and spent the last six minutes of the half sitting on the bench with two fouls. The fourth-seeded Cowboys should feel relieved to be trailing the Flames only 30-27 at halftime.
Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson III saved the Cowboys with 14 points.
Liberty has the advantage thanks to shooting 45% (five of 11) from three.
The winner will advance to face No. 12 seed Oregon State in the Midwest Region second round Sunday.
UCLA ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ to stay alive in NCAA tournament
The magic stretched deep into the night, accompanying UCLA from a comeback win completed on John R. Wooden Drive after midnight through a 75-minute journey into the heart of Hoosier basketball country.
At the end of a trip taken on three buses so that players could space out to ensure their safety amid a pandemic, the Bruins gathered in their hotel lobby around a giant NCAA tournament bracket.
Senior guard Chris Smith, accompanying his teammates despite having been lost for the season with a knee injury, was given the honor of affixing a white sticker reading “UCLA” onto the line opposite Brigham Young in the first round of the East Region.
“Yeeeeaaaahhhh!” the players cheered with gusto, nobody caring that it was 3:05 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.