Saturday’s slate of NCAA Tournament games kicked off with defending national champion Baylor falling to North Carolina 93-86 in overtime, making the Bears the first No. 1 seed to lose.
Brady Manek had 26 points for the Heels before he was ejected midway through the second half after being called for a Flagrant 2 elbow. R.J. Davis led North Carolina with 30 points and Armando Bacot chipped in with 15 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
Baylor, who got 27 points from Adam Flagler, erased a 25-point deficit as Baylor tied the score at 80 with 15 seconds left.
Their Big 12 rival and fellow No. 1 seed Kansas avoided the same fate as the Jayhawks took down Creighton.
The Cinderellas also take center stage, with No. 11 Michigan playing Tennessee in South Region action, No. 12 Richmond against Providence, No. 15 Saint Peter’s, who took out Kentucky in stunning fashion, trying again against Murray State, and New Mexico State, a 12 seed in the West, taking on Arkansas.
Top overall seed Gonzaga closes out the night’s action against a talented Memphis squad.
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No. 1 Gonzaga rallies past Memphis to reach Sweet 16
Just a reminder: They’re the No. 1 overall seed for a reason.
Trailing 41-31 at halftime to ninth-seeded Memphis, Gonzaga mounted a furious comeback Saturday night to win 82-78 and advance to its seventh consecutive Sweet 16.
After an abysmal first half in which he went 1-of-3 from the floor and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line, Gonzaga forward Drew Timme took matters into his own hands at the start of the second half. Timme scored 11 straight points, pulling the Zags within three, 45-42.
The Zags, who were brutal at the free-throw line in the first half (4-of-9), kept chipping away, though Memphis refused to fold. The Tigers hung around even after Gonzaga took its first lead of the half, 58-57 when — who else? — Timme scored inside with 10:16 to go.
The Zags didn’t trail again, though Memphis did tie it twice, at 64-64 and 66-66.
The most crucial stretch for Gonzaga came with 5:15 to go. Tied at 66, the Zags went inside again to Timme, who tossed it over his shoulder to Holmgren for an easy alley-oop dunk. Holmgren followed with a block, and point guard Andrew Nembhard capitalized on the other end with a 3 at the top of the key. Then Nembhard drew a charge, forcing a Memphis turnover.
Nembhard eventually iced it at the free-throw line, hitting four in a row to put the game out of reach. The senior guard finished with 23 points, including 5-of-10 from 3, and five assists. Timme chipped in with 25 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
Memphis was led by DeAndre Williams and Tyler Harris, who scored 14 and 13, respectively.
— Lindsay Schnell
No. 15 Saint Peter’s knocks off No. 7 Murray State to reach Sweet 16
Saint Peter’s isn’t done with its storybook run.
The Peacocks proved they’re far from a one-hit wonder, upsetting Murray State 70-60 in the NCAA Tournament’s second round to reach the school’s first-ever Sweet 16.
Saint Peter’s, a small university from Jersey City, New Jersey, becomes just the third No. 15 seed to make it to the second weekend of March Madness, joining Oral Roberts last year and Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 as the only No. 15s to ever reach the Sweet 16.
The Peacocks stunned No. 2 seed Kentucky in the first round and carried over that momentum Saturday. But Murray State, an upstart mid-major that garnered a No. 7 seed in these NCAAs and had won 19 in a row, didn’t go away without a fight – making Saint Peter’s work for the victory in the closing minutes.
The Peacocks (21-11) didn’t trail all game and fended off the Racers’ furious rally late in the game in a back-and-forth affair. Guard Doug Edert proved to be a hero again for Saint Peter’s, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the game’s final five minutes, and forward KC Ndefo was everywhere on the court – finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
— Scott Gleeson
UCLA loses Jaime Jaquez to foot injury in win over Saint Mary’s
UCLA advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year with a 72-56 win over fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s, but it came at a price — one of their best players.
Jaime Jaquez Jr., a 6-foot-7 junior forward who was an All-Pac-12 selection this season, left the game with 6:58 to go after landing awkwardly and twisting his right ankle.
Jaquez Jr., who came into the second round averaging 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds, managed to walk off the court without help, but soon he was on the bench in his warmups, with a huge bag of ice wrapped around his foot. At the time of his departure, Jaquez Jr. had 15 points, two assists and a rebound.
Jaquez Jr. is one of UCLA’s Big Three, along with point guard Tyger Campbell (10.4 points per game and 5.4 assists) and leading scorer Johnny Juzang, who scores 16 points per game.
Jaquez started all 32 games for the Bruins last year, averaging 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds as he helped UCLA to its first Final Four since 2008.
– Lindsay Schnell
Juwan Howard consoles Tennessee star after Michigan upset
Michigan was on the verge of missing the NCAA Tournament last week. Now the No. 11 Wolverines are heading to the Sweet 16 after ousting No. 3 Tennessee, 76-68.
But instead of celebrating with his team after the win, Juwan Howard wrapped his arms around Tennessee freshman star Kennedy Chandler, who cried into his jersey.
The visual of Howard consoling Chandler after the game was a powerful moment of sportsmanship. It was a strong contrast from the actions that cost Howard a five-game regular season suspension for a physical confrontation with Wisconsin’s coaching staff back in February.
Like Chandler, Howard has been on the receiving end of a devastating loss before as a player. He was part of Michigan’s Fab Five that reached the finals of the NCAA Tournament in 1992 and 1993, although they came up short both times.
Fellow Fab Five member Chris Webber celebrated with Howard after the upset win on Saturday. They jumped up and down while embracing each other.
– Scott Gleeson, Cydney Henderson
Kim Mulkey emotional as LSU women avoid historic upset by Jackson State
Jackson State was on the verge of being the first No. 14 seed to ever win in the NCAA tournament. The JSU Tigers were leading No. 3 LSU by 10 points with less than minutes to go before the LSU Tigers closed the game on a 19-3 run to fend off the upset, 83-77.
Head coach Kim Mulkey, dressed in a black and gold sequin blazer, displayed a range of emotions during the game. At one point, when Ryann Payne fouled out in the fourth quarter, Mulkey appeared to be on the verge of tears.
The win marks Mulkey’s first NCAA tournament victory at LSU.
– Cydney Henderson
Kansas makes history with win over Creighton
No. 1 Kansas is tied atop college basketball’s all-time victory list after beating No. 9 Creighton 79-72 to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2018. Remy Martin scored 20 points and Ochai Agbaji added 15 points.
The Jayhawks now have a total of 2,353 wins, tied with Kentucky for the most victories all-time. The Wildcats were knocked out in the first round by No. 15 seed St. Peter’s.
Kansas will play either Richmond or Providence in the Sweet 16 round.
– Cydney Henderson
Full-strength UConn starts NCAA tournament with rout of Mercer
Paige Bueckers started and scored 12 points as UConn began its run toward a 12th NCAA Tournament title with an 83-38 first-round rout of No. 15 seed Mercer on Saturday.
Last season’s national player of the year played 25 minutes, the most in six games since she came back from a left knee injury that kept her out for more than two months. She also had five assists and four rebounds.
Christyn Williams had 13 points to lead the Huskies (26-5), who opened the tournament with a win for the 28th consecutive time. Dorka Juhasz added 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Huskies led 43-23 at halftime, then shut out Mercer 20-0 in the third quarter.
The Huskies improved to 126-21 in the NCAA Tournament and 29-2 in their opening game
– Associated Press
Villanova upsets sixth seed BYU
Maddy Siegrist scored 25 points and 11th-seeded Villanova rallied to beat No. 6 seed BYU 61-57 on Saturday in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Kaitlyn Oriehl added 10 points and Lucy Olsen had nine for the Wildcats, who finished second in the Big East.
The Wildcats will face the winner of third-seeded Michigan and No. 14 seed American on Monday.
– Associated Press
UNC sends No. 1 seed Baylor packing; on to the Sweet 16
North Carolina put on an offensive clinic early to build a 25-point lead before holding off an inspired rally that forced overtime, escaping defending national champion Baylor 93-86 on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament’s second round at Fort Worth, Texas.
The Bears, the first No. 1 seed to fall in March Madness, were close to pulling off the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history by thrillingly storming back in the game’s final six minutes. The No. 8-seeded Tar Heels, a bubble team at the start of the month, advanced to the Sweet 16 in the East Region.
Despite coughing up the sizable lead and playing completely discombobulated in the final minutes of regulation, North Carolina found a way to gut out the upset in overtime. UNC guard R.J. Davis made a pivotal three-point play with 1:18 remaining in overtime for a play that gave the Tar Heels a six-point edge and proved to be the difference-maker.
– Scott Gleeson
Kansas State women use big game from Lee to advance
Ayoka Lee had 20 points and 15 rebounds as No. 9 Kansas State overcame a frustrating defensive scheme from No. 8 Washington State and won 50-40 in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
Lee, a second-team AP All-America selection, made just one shot from the floor in the first half, but rallied in the second to lead the Wildcats (20-11) to their first tournament victory since 2017. Brylee Glenn added 14 points for Kansas State.
The Wildcats will face the winner of the game between No. 1 N.C. State and No. 16 Longwood on Monday in Raleigh.
– Associated Press
North Carolina up on No. 1 seed Baylor
Baylor, the defending national champion, is 20 minutes away from being the first No. 1 seed to be ousted from the tournament. The Tar Heels led 42-29 at the break in their second-round matchup in the East Region.
The Tar Heels are being paced by R.J. Davis, who hit 4-for-6 from 3-point range and has 17 points. Brady Manek has nine points for Carolina.
Adam Flagler has six points for Baylor, which shot 40 percent in the half and has only two assists on its 12 made baskets.
– Scooby Axson
Kansas one step closer to history
The record for all-time wins in college basketball history is close to being owned by Kansas.
With a victory in the second round matchup against Creighton, the Jayhawks will pad their win total to 2,353, tying Kentucky for the most victories all-time. The Wildcats failed to add to their lead when they lost to No. 15 seed St. Peter’s in the first round.
North Carolina is third all-time with 2,319 victories.
No. 12 seeds Richmond, New Mexico State look to continue Cinderella runs
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Richmond won a game in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament for the first time since 2011. To some, that might sound like a long time.
Just try telling that to New Mexico State: The Aggies won in the tourney for the first time since — drum roll, please — 1993.
Saturday these 12-seeds will play against 4-seeds for spots in the Sweet 16: Richmond vs. Providence, New Mexico State vs. Arkansas.
“To get an opportunity to go to the Sweet 16 is everything you dream of as a kid,” Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard said Friday. “That’s kind of why you play basketball.”
New Mexico State guard Sir’Jabari Rice understands that sense of yearning.
“After you win one game,” he said, “what’s the point of losing the next?
– Erik Brady
Duke has the talent to make a title run for Coach K, but inexperience remains the wild card
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Sometimes, talent alone is more than enough.
On this there is no doubt: Duke’s roster doesn’t lack for talent, with as many as five contributors ticketed for the first round of the NBA draft. Instead, what the No. 2 Blue Devils lack is experience, making this perhaps the most unique NCAA Tournament group of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s nearly complete tenure.
With a roster this young, every high-pressure tournament game could bring Duke closer to matching the full potential of Krzyzewski’s final team.
“I think what distinguishes us is we feel we haven’t reached our full potential yet,” said junior forward Wendell Moore. “We haven’t reached nearly as good a team as we can be yet. I mean, we’ve seen glimpses of it.”
– Paul Myerberg