Another day in the NCAA tournament, another upset.
No. 11 Notre Dame knocked out No. 6 Alabama during the second day of action Friday, following a double-overtime win in the First Four games on Wednesday.
The tournament’s second full day started with Ohio State, the South Region’s No. 7, taking down No. 10 Loyola-Chicago, which had been backed by America’s favorite nun.
On Thursday, a pair of five seeds went down, plus an absolute stunner as the East Region’s 2 seed Kentucky was sent home by Saint Peter’s, a private school with less than 3,000 students located in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The last No. 1 seed to see action, Arizona takes on Wright State, fresh off their First Four victory over Bryant on Wednesday.
The women also take center stage as their tournament got underway.
No. 1 overall seed South Carolina and player of the year candidate Aliyah Boston crushed No. 16 Howard, while No. 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast pulled off the first major upset with a win over No. 5 Virginia Tech. A pair of No. 10 seeds also moved into the second round on the first day
Two other No. 1 seeds also begin their march in hopes of ending up in the Final Four in Minneapolis, with Louisville playing Albany and Stanford beginning its title defense against Montana State.
The No. 1-seeded Arizona Wildcats have become a fashionable choice to win six straight tournament games and win their first national title since 1997.
Friday’s first-round game in San Diego might have added a smidge of doubt to that idea, however. They looked a little sloppy, committing 10 turnovers before halftime and letting 16th-seeded Wright State cut their lead to single digits in the second half before winning 87-70.
Bennedict Mathurin, the Pac-12 player of the year, led the way with 18 points. Center Christian Koloko added 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The Wildcats (32-3) played again without starting point guard Kerr Kriisa, who has missed three straight games after spraining his ankle March 10. The Wildcats still have won all three and now face the winner between Seton Hall and Texas Christian in the second round.
— Brent Schrotenboer
Illinois coach Brad Underwood summed it up with simplicity after the fourth-seeded Fighting Illini barely avoided an upset in a 54-53 win over No. 13-seed Chattanooga, advancing to the South Region’s second round.
“We just played bad,” Underwood said. The Illini (23-9) made the plays down the stretch, with a key defensive stop and two game-winning free throws by Alfonso Plummer, to pull out the gutsy victory.
All-American big man Kofi Cockburn wasn’t his normal self, struggling to adjust to the Mocs’ double teaming, but gave Illinois its first lead all day with 47 seconds left to make it 52-51. Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins blocked Chattanooga leading scorer Malachi Smith (14 points on the night) in the final seconds before Smith recovered and missed a potential game-winner as the buzzer sounded.
Chattanooga (27-8) came out firing on all cylinders in Friday’s clash with the Big Ten regular-season champions. But then injuries and foul trouble took the Southern Conference champion out of its rhythm. That set up a thrilling comeback from Illinois and an ending that saw Plummer’s three-point shooting — three momentous triples in key second-half stretches — keep the Illini within striking distance.
It almost was the second disappointing exit in two years for Illinois under coach Brad Underwood. The Fighting Illini lost in the second round to Loyola-Chicago as a No. 1 seed last year. This year was different. “We found a way to win,” Underwood said.
— Scott Gleeson
The Mike Krzyzewski era at Duke will last at least one more game.
Five players scored in double figures to lead No. 2 Duke past No. 15 Cal State Fullerton 78-61, as the Blue Devils avoided becoming the latest top seed to be sent packing early from this year’s topsy-turvy men’s NCAA Tournament.
Duke (29-6, 16-4) was led by freshman forward Pablo Banchero, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore center Mark Williams added 15 points and five blocks.
The Blue Devils shot 50.9% from the field, including 40.9% from 3-point range. The Titans hit on just 37.5% of attempts.
— Paul Myerberg
Louisville, the top seed in the Wichita region, defeated No. 16 seed Albany 83-51, pushing its home record to 15-0 this season.
The Cardinals (26-4,16-2) will host No. 9 seed Gonzaga on Sunday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.
The trio of Emily Engstler, Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith led the way for Louisville. Van Lith had a game-high 20 points, Engstler had 17 points, seven rebounds and seven steals and Smith had 15 points and had five assists.
— Cameron Teague Robinson, Louisville Courier Journal
No. 7 Utah unloaded a barrage of 3-pointers to bolt to a big early lead and coast to a 92-69 win over No. 10 Arkansas on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Utes built a 20-point lead in the first half, then used another burst of 3s to squelch an Arkansas rally in which the Razorbacks fought to get within 12 with six minutes left.
The Utes were long-range specialists all season as the Pac-12’s highest-scoring team. On Friday, they were 15 of 31 from 3 and had made at least nine 3-pointers in 19 games this season.
Kennady McQueen finished with 20 points. Gianna Kneepkens added 16 points for the Utes (21-11), who advance to play either No. 2 seed Texas or Fairfield in Sunday’s second round.
Ashley Owusu scored 24 points and Diamond Miller added 23 to lift fourth-seeded Maryland to a 102-71 rout of 13th-seeded Delaware on Friday.
Jasmine Dickey led the Blue Hens with 31 points, but they couldn’t keep up with a Maryland team that looked healthy and ready for this NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins (22-8) advanced to face 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday.
The momentum from winning its first ACC tournament title didn’t carry over for Virginia Tech. The Hokies were rolling into their first-round game against Texas looking like a team that could do some damage. Instead, the No. 6 Longhorns ended their eight-year drought without an NCAA win by rolling to a 81-73 victory.
The defense of Texas held Tech, which averages nine three-pointers per game, to just two makes before the final minute. On offense, the Longhorns had one of their best shooting nights of the season, hitting 10 of 19 from behind the arc. The leader of the perimeter attack was Andrew Jones, who made five threes as part of his 19 points. Four other Longhorns players also reached double figures. The Hokies were led by Sean Pedulla’s 19 points.
Texas under first-year coach Chris Beard will now hope to reach its first Sweet 16 since 2008. In its way will be Purdue, which cruised past Yale in its opener.
— Erick Smith
No. 11 Notre Dame didn’t have an easy week.
After beating Rutgers in Dayton, Ohio, in double-overtime on Wednesday, the Fighting Irish traveled across the country the next day for a first-round game in San Diego on Friday against No. 6 seed Alabama.
Coach Mike Brey described it as “going on fumes.” But the hectic pace still worked for them somehow. The Irish beat the Crimson Tide 78-64 and now will play a third game in five days Sunday in the second round.
Guard Cormac Ryan scored 29 points and made seven of his nine 3-point attempts, helping his team advance to play the red-hot Red Raiders from Texas Tech, a No. 3 seed in the West Region of the men’s tournament.
It didn’t help Alabama that it lost starting guard Jahvon Quinerly less than four minutes after tipoff, when he had to be helped off the court with an apparent leg injury. Quinerly entered the game as his team’s leader in assists, their second-leading scorer and No. 2 player in minutes played.
— Brent Schrotenboer
Iowa hoped to get in and out of Friday’s first-round game with minimal issues.
No problem there.
After taking roughly a quarter to warm up, the second-seeded Hawkeyes took firm control toward the end of the first half and eliminated any upset vibes with a dominant third quarter. The final product was a 98-58 Iowa win over No. 15 seed Illinois State, which advances the Hawkeyes to Sunday’s second-round game against No. 10 seed Creighton. The Bluejays beat No. 7 seed Colorado to begin the day.
— Dargan Southard, Des Moines Register
Kayleigh Truong scored a career-high 20 points to lead No. 9 seed Gonzaga to a 68-55 victory over No. 8 Nebraska in the first round of women’s NCAA Tournament on Friday.
Truong, a junior guard, scored 15 of her points in the second half, and those came after she landed awkwardly in a second quarter after a collision with Nebraska’s Jaz Shelley. That caused her to miss the final five minutes of the first half.
She made up for it in good time, though, as she scored the first two baskets of the second half. Gonzaga (27-6) never looked back. The Bulldogs, in winning their sixth straight, led by as much as 68-52 in the waning minutes of the contest.
No. 2 Baylor won their 19th consecutive first-round game in the women’s NCAA Tournament, overwhelming Hawaii 89-49 on Friday.
NaLyssa Smith and Jordan Lewis combined to score the first 27 Baylor points in the third quarter, when the No. 2 seed Bears outscored the Rainbow Wahine 34-8 after taking a modest nine-point lead into halftime. Smith finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Lewis scored 23.
Amy Atwell scored 29 points but was limited to nine after halftime as 15th-seeded Hawaii (20-10) faded and fell to 1-7 in the NCAA Tournament. The lone victory was in 1990.
Baylor will face South Dakota in the second round on Sunday. The 10th-seeded Coyotes beat Mississippi in the opener.
No. 10 Miami (Fla.) squandered an 11-point halftime lead and nearly coughed up a 7-point lead with under a minute left but held on to beat No. 7 Southern California, 68-66.
The Hurricanes were up 65-58 with 44 seconds left but had to withstand a pair of 3-pointers from the Trojans’ Drew Peterson, which cut the lead to 65-64 with 25.3 seconds remaining. After Miami made one free throw, Petersen put in a lay-up to tie the game at 66-66 with 14 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Miami guard Charlie Moore was fouled on a drive near the basket and made both free throws to set up the win. Petersen’s desperation heave from near midcourt bounced off the backboard and the rim before falling out.
Moore had 16 points and four steals for the Hurricanes, who advanced out of the first round of the men’s NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. The Trojans are sent packing after reaching the Elite Eight a year ago.
The win sets up a date in the second round of the Midwest Regional with No. 2 Auburn, which also scuffled early but pulled away to beat No. 15 Jacksonville State 80-61.
— Paul Myerberg
For nearly 20 sweet minutes Friday afternoon, No. 15 Delaware and a large, boisterous rooting section could ponder the wonderful possibilities.
The Blue Hens shot well and defended strongly at the outset of its first-round showdown with Villanova inside PPG Paints Arena, which pulsed with sound and fervor.
The Blue Hens ran out of both after their encouraging start, and No. 2 Villanova pulled away for an 80-60 victory while beginning its pursuit of a third national title in seven years.
Justin Moore scored 21 points, Collin Gillespie added 14 to lead the Wildcats, who used a 35-10 surge spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second to turn an eight-point deficit into a blowout.
— Kevin Tresolini, Delaware News Journal
As the action picks up into the evening, we already have one of the highlights of the day, when 6 Texas guard Marcus Carr took the inbounds from the opposite end of the court with 2.1 seconds left in the first half and the Longhorns down one point against No. 11 Virginia Tech.
Carr hoisted a heave well beyond half court and sank the buzzer beater as time expired to give Texas a two-point lead headed into the half, 34-32.
Karli Seay and Kendall Spray came to Florida Gulf Coast to play in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. The two of them helped the No. 12 Eagles to an 84-81 upset of No. 5 Virginia Tech in a first-round matchup in College Park, Maryland, on Friday.
Seay made a huge 3-pointer to give FGCU a 79-74 lead, and Spray made four free throws with 16 seconds left to seal it. Kierstan Bell had 18 of her 22 points in the second half, including a free throw with 5 seconds left to give the Eagles a five-point lead.
Hokies’ 6-foot-6 junior Elizabeth Kitley, the ACC Player of the Year, had a career- and arena-high 42 points for the Hokies (23-10). But it wasn’t enough.
FGCU (30-2) will play Maryland or Delaware on Sunday.
— Greg Hardwig, Naples Daily News
No. 3 seed Purdue cruised past Yale 78-56 to avoid the type of upset that has plagued the program in the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers, who were knocked out in the opening round by North Texas last season, left no doubt against the Bulldogs by breaking open the game with a 15-0 run early in the second half. Purdue, seeking its first Final Four appearance, was led by 22 points from Jaden Ivey.
Azar Swain had 18 points to lead Yale.
The win by the Boilermakers advances a third Big Ten into the second round with the possibility of three more joining them later Friday.
— Erick Smith
Morgan Maly matched a career high with 20 points and Lauren Jensen and Molly Mogensen each had 16 as 10th-seeded Creighton defeated No. 7 seed Colorado 84-74 on Friday.
Emma Ronsiek added 10 points for the Bluejays, making their first NCAA appearance since 2018.
Creighton (21-9) will No. 2 seed Iowa in Sunday’s Greensboro Region second round. Colorado finished the season at 22-9.
Three years ago, Texas Tech went all the way to the national championship game under coach Chris Beard.
But then Beard left Lubbock last year, opting to become the head coach at rival Texas instead.
Nearly a year later, the No. 3-seeded Red Raiders don’t exactly look like they’ve been disrupted by the upheaval. To the contrary, they looked like a team ready to make another deep run in the men’s tournament after demolishing No. 14 seed Montana State at Viejas Arena Friday 97-62.
Under new head coach Mark Adams, the Red Raiders have stressed defense on a team that has seven transfers. They used it to race out to 30-9 lead in the first nine minutes and held the Bobcats to 38% shooting for the game.
Offensively, Tech shot 67% and was led by guard Terrence Shannon and forward Bryson Williams, both of whom had 20 points. The Red Raiders (26-9) scored 23 points off of 16 turnovers for Montana State.
— Brent Schrotenboer
South Dakota has won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in school history.
The Coyotes (28-5, 17-1 Summit) topped Ole Miss (23-9, 10-6 SEC) 75-61 in the First Round Friday in Waco, Texas, completely dominating from start to finish.
South Dakota center Hannah Sjerven had 20 points and seven rebounds. Chloe Lamb added 20 including several big 3’s at the end of the game. Maddie Krull had 13 and Kyah Watson has eight.
South Dakota will play the winner of No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 2 Hawaii in the second round of the Wichita region.
— Michael McCleary, Sioux Falls Argus Leader
At least one SEC heavyweight will advance out of the first round of the men’s NCAA Tournament.
Unlike rival Kentucky, which suffered a shocking loss as a heavy favorite against Saint Peter’s, No. 2 Auburn overcame a sluggish start and looked the part of a tournament contender with an 80-61 win against No. 15 Jacksonville State.
Down 24-22 with 5:39 left in the first half, the Tigers closed the first half on a 17-3 run and pulled away to reach the second round of the Midwest Regional. The SEC regular-season champions will face the winner of No. 7 Southern California and No. 10 Miami (Fla.) for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Auburn was led by freshman forward Jabari Smith, one of the top prospects in the upcoming NBA draft, who scored 20 points capped by an exclamation-mark dunk with just over a minute left. Coach Bruce Pearl has advanced out of the first round eight times in 11 tournament trips at three different stops: Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Tennessee and with the Tigers.
— Paul Myerberg
Top-seeded South Carolina — one of the heavy favorites to make the women’s Final Four — cruised into the second round with a 79-21 win over No. 16 Howard. The Bison’s 21 points was the fewest points ever in a woman’s NCAA Tournament game and broke the record held by Kansas State which scored 26 in a loss to UConn in 2012.
Aliyah Boston scored 10 points and had 12 rebounds to lead the Gamecocks, the No. 1 overall seed.
South Carolina led the Bison at the half by a score of 44-4, also a women’s NCAA Tournament low. Howard converted just a single shot from the field, giving it a 3.8% shooting percentage. All four points were scored by the same player, guard Iyanna Warren.
There will be no deep tournament run for Loyola Chicago this season. Ohio State knocked off the trendy, first-round upset pick by reversing its poor form at the end of the season with a comfortable 54-41 victory. E.J. Liddell had a game-high 16 points and Malaki Branham added 14 to push the Buckeyes into the second round after losing four of their last five entering the tournament.
The 10th-seeded Ramblers, one year removed from making the Sweet 16 and four years away from making the Final Four, were stifled by the Buckeyes defense. They shot just 26.8% from the field and leading scorer Lucas Williamson managed just four points on 1-for-10 shooting.
— Erick Smith
In the women’s tournament, the No. 8 seed Miami Hurricanes are moving on after they took down the No. 9 South Florida Bulls 78-66.
The Hurricanes had a balanced day on offense, with five players scoring in double figures, as Miami shot 53.6% from the field. It was the opposite for the Bulls, who had forward Elena Tsineke and guards Elisa Pinzan and Sydni Harvey combine for 51 points, or 77.3% of the team’s scoring.
JERSEY CITY — Angelo Madrigal heard a lot of noise coming from his hallway around 9:30 on Thursday night.
“It was a bit chaotic in the hallways,” said Madrigal, a resident adviser at St. Peter’s University. “A lot of people were just happy. I don’t blame them at all.”
The happiness was the result of the men’s basketball team’s shocking 85-79 overtime victory over national powerhouse Kentucky in the first round of the men’s NCAA Tournament. The Peacocks were the No. 15 seed in the East Regional bracket, while Kentucky was the No. 2 seed and considered a favorite to win the entire tournament.
It was the first NCAA Tournament win in school history for the private Jesuit school with just more than 3,000 students enrolled.
— Robert Aitken Jr., NorthJersey.com
Loyola Ramblers fans will be glad to know their biggest supporter and good luck charm, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, is back for the program’s latest run in the men’s tournament. Sister Jean, their 102-year-old team chaplain and America’s favorite nun, is in attendance Friday for No. 10 Loyola’s game against No. 7 Ohio State.
Ever since Loyola’s unexpected run to the Final Four in 2018, Sister Jean has become a March Madness staple.
“I’m excited to come here because of the NCAA having chosen (Pittsburgh) to be the spot of the games,” Sister Jean said before the tournament began. “This is something our team has been talking about all year long – long before the season began. When we won the conference (title), we were so happy because we had the past week to be thinking about it.”
The action got started in the women’s tournament as South Florida is taking on Miami in Columbia, South Carolina, in the Greensboro region. The winner will take on the victor of top-seeded South Carolina and Howard matchup.
Some of the most intriguing matchups involve teams that are closely seeded. Virginia Tech comes in as one of the hottest teams in the nation, having ran through the ACC elite to capture the conference tournament title. The Hokies will take on Texas (4:30 p.m., TBS who are known for their defense, but have issues making baskets. First team to 70 probably wins.
Here are some other games to keep an eye on.
10 Loyola Chicago vs. 7 Ohio State, 12:15 p.m., CBS
This is another case where the higher seed might actually be the perceived underdog. The Buckeyes limp into the tournament with just one win in their last five outings and could still be shorthanded due to lingering injuries, but E.J. Liddell’s takeover ability will still warrant plenty of attention.
9 TCU vs. 8 Seton Hall, 9:57 p.m., truTV
The Pirates had to reinvent themselves when Bryce Aiken sustained a concussion in early January that ended his season, but they won enough games in the Big East to earn a bid. The Horned Frogs took some lumps in the crowded Big 12 but were able to post one win in three tries against Kansas down the stretch
– Eddie Timanus
After No. 2 seed Kentucky’s shocking loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, coach John Calipari was asked what the Wildcats struggled with against Saint Peter’s.
“Give Saint Peter’s credit,” Calipari said. “I watched the tape of them before the game. These guys can play.”
Indeed they can.
The Peacocks (20-11) busted brackets everywhere Thursday by taking down Kentucky in a first-round overtime thriller – becoming just the 10th-ever No. 15 seed to oust a No. 2 in the NCAA Tournament. They followed in the footsteps of mid-majors Oral Roberts (last year), Middle Tennessee (2016) and Florida Gulf Coast (2013), who became the darlings of their respective tournaments.
Saint Peter’s University is a private Jesuit university in Jersey City, New Jersey. It has roughly 2,500 undergraduate students, helping to fit the definition of a mid-major.
– Scott Gleeson
INDIANAPOLIS – KJ Williams scored six of his 18 points in overtime after Murray State blew an eight-point lead late in regulation, and the seventh-seeded Racers extended their winning streak to 21 games with a 92-87 victory over San Francisco in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The Racers (31-2) tied South Dakota State for the longest winning streak in the nation this season. With SDSU’s loss to Providence earlier Thursday, Murray State can edge ahead in Saturday’s East Region second-round game against Saint Peter’s. The 15th-seeded Peacocks toppled Kentucky 85-79 in OT.
The nightcap in Indianapolis was just as tight, with 18 lead changes and 14 ties. Murray State ultimately took control with Williams’ clutch baskets and Jordan Skipper-Brown’s timely plays in the extra session.
Jamaree Bouyea scored 36 points for USF (24-10), which made its first NCAA appearance since 1998.
Williams made a go-ahead layup with 1:15 remaining before Skipper-Brown’s layup made it 89-85 with 30 seconds left. Zane Meeks’ putback got USF within a basket, but he missed a free throw. Skipper-Brown made two free throws with 13.7 seconds left before adding another with 1.7 seconds remaining to seal the win.
— Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Akron Zips’ confidence was fueled by eight consecutive victories, including three upsets to win the Mid-American Conference tournament.
Their nerves were replaced by excitement for the big moment for the University of Akron and its men’s basketball program.
The 13th-seeded Zips led most of the way in a bitter battle with fourth-seeded UCLA in an NCAA Tournament East Regional game at the Moda Center before losing 57-53.
UCLA (26-7), which reached the Final Four from the First Four in 2021, advanced to meet fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s, an 82-53 winner over 12th-seeded Indiana.
Xavier Castaneda led UA with 18 points, six rebounds and one assist and Enrique Freeman added 14 points, 10 rebounds and an assist before fouling out.
Tyger Campbell scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half to pace the Bruins and added five assists. Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists. UA held Johnny Juzang to nine points, five rebounds and two assists.
— Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal
REMOTE CONTROL: Ranking the men’s NCAA Tournament games to watch Friday
FOR OPENERS: Winners and losers from Thursday’s games
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Contributing: Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism