Saturday’s slate of NCAA tournament games kicked off when the defending national champion Baylor fell 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. RJ 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 lead as Baylor tied the score at 80 with 15 seconds.
Their Big 12 rival and fellow No. 1 seed Kansas will try to avoid the same fate as the Jayhawks battle 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 , at 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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Full-strength UConn starts NCAA tournament with route 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 route of No. 15 seed Mercer on Saturday.
Last season’s national player of the year played 25 minutes, the most in six games since coming 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 straight 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 improve to 126-21 in the NCAA Tournament and 29-2 in their opening game
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.
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 RJ 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.
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 NC State and No. 16 Longwood on Monday in Raleigh.
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 RJ 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.
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, including 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 wins.
No. 12 seeds Richmond, New Mexico State look to continue Cinderella runs
BUFFALO, NY — 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 on the tour 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 v. 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?
Duke has the talent to make a title run for Coach K, but inexperience remains the wild card
GREENVILLE, SC — 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
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism