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NCAA Tournament Saturday Recap: Villanova upset, Florida State beat down, Northwestern burned by no-call


The first round of the NCAA Tournament left us wanting more, and the second round delivered.

In a big way.


The reigning champs went down. Villanova, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament field, lost a thriller to No. 8 seed Wisconsin on Saturday thanks to a pair of massive threes from Bronson Koening and a Jordan-esque move from Nigel Hayes that led to a winning bucket with 11.4 seconds left on the block. The question with Villanova now is what the legacy of this team will be?

The other No. 1 seed in action on Friday night was Gonzaga, and Mark Few’s club survived an upset-bid from No. 8 seed Northwestern on the strength of some questionable-at-best officiating late in the game. Even though this is the third straight year that Gonzaga has been in the Sweet 16, this is a program with the reputation of getting knocked out of the tournament early; somehow, the narrative has become that Gonzaga getting a No. 1 seed and losing in the second round is the norm for that program.

It’s ironic, really. That’s what Villanova does, but because Villanova won a national title, it’s not something we’re allowed to mention anymore.

Have we seen a more dominant performance in this tournament than No. 11 Xavier‘s 91-66 win over No. 3 Florida State? The Musketeers, playing without their most important player in Edmond Sumner, advanced to the Sweet 16. The job that Chris Mack has done with this team this season cannot be overlooked. They’ve dealt with more adversity on their roster than just about anyone left in the tournament not named Duke.

The Game of the Day, however, came in the nightcap, as No. 5 Iowa State squared off with Caleb Swanigan and No. 4 Purdue. Swanigan was sensational, but Purdue blew a 19-point second half lead and let Iowa State take the lead … before a 9-0 in the final five minutes game them the lead back. It was wild, it was intense, it was fun and it was a win for Purdue.

No. 7 Saint Mary’s put a scare into No. 2 seed Arizona, jumping out to a 10-point first half lead, but the Gaels faded down the stretch as Allonzo Trier woke up in the second half en route to a 69-60 win. The Wildcats will advance to take on No. 11 seed Xavier, as Chris Mack and Sean Miller, good friends and former colleagues, will square off.

The first game of the day was as impressive of a performance as we’ve seen out of No. 4 seed West Virginia this season. They’ve had bigger wins this year, but their win over No. 5 seed Notre Dame made a statement with the number of huge jumpers they made down the stretch. It’s not often that West Virginia wins games with their shooting, but that’s exactly what happened Saturday.

Kelan Martin scored 19 points and Andrew Chrabacsz scored 15 as No. 4 Butler sent No. 12 Middle Tennessee and their Cinderella slippers home. The Bulldogs are in the Sweet 16 despite having a team that doesn’t quite have the talent you would expect out of a Sweet 16 team. They’ve not a mid-major anymore, but this is one of college basketball’s best stories.


Iowa State vs. Purdue: Everything about this game was great. Comebacks by both teams, stars playing like stars, big shots, big dunks, great pace. If there was a standout, however, it was Caleb Swanigan, who finished with 20 points, 12 boards and seven assists.

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier: Bluiett had 29 points as No. 11 Xavier put together one of the most impressive performances of this tournament, beating No. 3 seed Florida State by 25 points.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia: Carter had 24 points and three assists, hitting four huge threes as the Mountaineers advanced to the Sweet 16.

Not Virginia: The’Hoos saw their scoring issues pop back up on Saturday night, as they managed all of 39 points in a blowout loss to No. 4 seed Florida.

No. 1 Villanova makes 17 threes, routs No. 9 Alabama

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On paper, this matchup set up perfectly for No. 9-seed Alabama.

The Crimson Tide are the longest and most athletic team that No. 1 seed Villanova has faced off with in months. They entered the day as one of college basketball’s best at defending the three-point line. They have the kind of dynamic play maker at the point guard spot that can give Villanova fits in Collin Sexton.

All of the dots connected.

What I failed to mention there, however, is that Villanova has an uncanny ability to absolutely bury anyone in their path in an avalanche of threes, and that is precisely what happened to the Crimson Tide on Saturday afternoon.

Mikal Bridges, who scored just a single point in the first half, scored 16 of his 23 points in the first four minutes of the second half as Villanova took a game that was close for 20 minutes and turned it into a massacre. The Wildcats outscored Alabama 49-31 in the second half — a number that was limited as the Wildcats took their foot off the gas down the stretch — en route to an 81-58 win.

Villanova will advance to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of tomorrow’s game between No. 5 West Virginia and No. 13 Marshall.

Bridges led the way for Villanova on Saturday, but they may not have been in the position that they were in if it was not for Donte DiVincenzo. The redshirt sophomore caught fire in the first half, scored all 18 points his points and hitting five threes to put Villanova ahead by five at the break. Divincenzo also added five assists, his play-making a difference-maker with Jalen Brunson on the bench with a pair of early fouls.

And that should terrify everyone in the East Region.

Hell, that should be a statement to everyone in this tournament.

Villanova just de-pantsed one of the teams that best matched up with them, a team that has a lottery pick running the point and an NBA player and coach on the sideline. And they did it without much coming from their all-american point guard, the guy that was named the NBC Sports National Player of the Year.

Brunson finished with just 12 points and four assists, and honestly, did you even notice? This was the Bridges show in the second half when Villanova made their run. It was DiVincenzo’s show in the first half when Villanova needed someone to keep them close. We’ve seen Phil Booth take over games. (Anyone remember the 2016 national title game? He had 20.) Omari Spellman can pop off for 25 from time to time.

The Wildcats are just so dangerous.

And when they play like they did today, they are damn near unbeatable.

Police: Thief steals electronics from UNC basketball program

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Police say someone stole thousands of dollars in electronics from the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team locker room and office while they were away for the ACC tournament.

UNC-Chapel Hill campus police said on Twitter that the break-in happened at the Dean Smith Center on March 9, and they released images of a man they believe may have been involved.

A police report says the thief managed to get into the team locker room and basketball office without forced entry, according to The Herald-Sun.

The report says the thief stole a PlayStation 4, Xbox One and clothing worth $2,900 that belonged to the athletic department. Police say the thief also stole a laptop worth $1,200 and a financial document worth about $3,000 belonging to one of the players.

No upsets over here: No. 1 seed UConn women set scoring records in first round game

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The No. 1 overall seed on the men’s side of the NCAA tournament made history on Friday night.

They because the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the tournament, as Virginia lost to UMBC, if you were still unaware.

Over on the women’s side, the bracket is nowhere near as broken, because UConn’s women made history, too. They set NCAA tournament records for … well, almost everything it seems like.

The Huskies were up 55-19 at the end of the first quarter of their first round game against St. Francis (PA). Those 55 points are an NCAA tournament record. They held a 94-31 lead at the half, another NCAA tournament record, and held on to win 140-52.

The 140 points that Geno Auriemma’s team scored was an NCAA tournament record. The 88 points that they won by was one point short of an NCAA tournament record 89 points that was set by Baylor in a win over Texas Southern last season.

Oh, and the Huskies set the record for more assists in an NCAA tournament game — 38 — for good measure.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the fans in Storrs had a better weekend than the fans in Charlottesville. Hopefully, that will allow them to forget the fact that the men’s basketball program has become a laughing stock.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Maryland Governor calls UMBC upset, so does NBC Sports’ writer son

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Never before in the history of the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed.

That was until Friday night, when UMBC sent the No. 1 overall seed Virginia packing.

And if you thought no one had picked that upset, you were wrong.

Let’s start with the Maryland Governor, who was clearly a homer in picking UMBC to not only beat Virginia, but to win a national title:

Never say never, but … that’s never going to happen bud.

But how about this: My son, who is two years old and based his picks on his hard and fast rule of “all the doggies”, called this upset!

He also called Penn over Kansas, Fullerton over Purdue and Butler winning a national title, but whatever.

That bracket is actually pretty good!

VIDEO: Virginia’s Ty Jerome does not appreciate dumb question after UMBC loss

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You have to give Virginia some credit.

After losing to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the players on that roster faced the music. They went up to the dais and answered question from reporters on national television.

There is no way they enjoyed that.

And you can tell because Ty Jerome had absolutely no interest in answering dumb questions from reporters:

He was not amused.