Rob Dauster

Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono (15) drives past Iowa's Peter Jok (14) during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

No. 2 Villanova ends curse, advances past No. 7 Iowa and into Sweet 16

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You can go ahead and knock the monkey off of Jay Wright’s back.

For the first time since 2009, Villanova is headed to the Sweet 16. And after first weekend exits as a No. 2 seed in 2010 and 2014 and last year’s second round defeat as a No. 1 seed, you better believe that this was something that was in the back of the mind of everyone on that Villanova roster.

“Everybody’s been talking about this game for the whole year, even in the summertime before the season started,” senior center Daniel Ochefu said in Saturday’s media session.

“Everyone has the right to think what they want, say what they want,” Arcidiacono said, adding that he does not think it’s unfair that Villanova gets judged based on their March successes. Or failures. “We played in those games. We haven’t come through in the second round of the tournament.”

“I can’t really tell people how they should look at [us]. They have the right to think of us how they want to.”

On Sunday afternoon, Villanova looked like a team that had spent the last 12 months stewing over last season’s loss to No. 8 seed N.C. State as they took out their anger on Iowa. The No. 2 seed Wildcats mollywhopped the 7th-seeded Hawkeyes, taking a 54-29 lead into the break and eventually leaving Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with an 87-68 win and a ticket to Louisville for the Sweet 16.

The Wildcats shot better than 59 percent from the floor and his 10-for-19 from three, turning 13 Iowa turnovers into 14 points and outscoring the Hawkeyes 18-0 in transition. It was typical Villanova, pestering 3/4-court defense and a spread offensive attack, creating mismatches, getting to the rim and knocking down threes.

It was arguably the best performance Villanova has had this season, and definitely their best game outside of Philly.

And it came at the expense of an Iowa team that absolutely collapsed this season. The Hawkeyes, 39 days ago, were 19-4 and ranked third in the country while sitting all alone in first place in the Big Ten standings. But they lost six of their last eight games prior to the tournament and eventually bowed out before the second weekend.

This is the third straight season that Iowa has been bounced in the first weekend. McCaffery has been to seven NCAA tournament and never advanced to the Sweet 16.

Did the monkey that was on Wright’s back hop onto Fran’s?

Jamie Dixon is leaving Pitt for TCU

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Jamie Dixon has accepted the head coaching position at TCU, sources confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Dixon has been the head coach of the Pitt Panthers for the past 13 seasons. He took the program over from Ben Howland in 2003 after working as an assistant for four years. Dixon is a TCU alum, which makes him a nice fit with a program that is probably a better job than some realize.

The program has a new arena, an Athletic Director that is beloved and rich boosters. The key for Dixon is going to be hiring someone that can navigate the Texas recruiting waters, specifically the Dallas area, where TCU is located.

It will be interesting to see the next move that Pitt makes. They have to call both Sean and Archie Miller — Pittsburgh natives, and Sean played for the Panthers — but there are few in the industry that believe either would take the job. They might have a shot at landing Archie, but he’s in a position where it wouldn’t make sense for him to jump to Pitt, which may not be a top half-of-the-ACC job anymore.

The names that have come up in discussions with sources in the coaching industry: Ben Howland, the former Pitt head coach who is now at Mississippi State; Matt Driscoll, a Pittsburgh native that has helped build North Florida into a mid-major power; current Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings.

Pitt is going to be a weird job to fill, and it will be quite interesting to see who they target.

2016 NCAA Tournament: Sunday’s Tip Times, Channel Guide and Announcer Pairings

Middle Tennessee's Jaqawn Raymond (10) celebrates after making a basket during the first half of a first-round men's college basketball game against Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Second Round Games
Sunday, March 20

12:10 p.m., CBS, Brooklyn
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 7 Iowa (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

2:40 p.m., CBS, Brooklyn
No. 6 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:15 p.m., CBS, Oklahoma City
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 VCU (Carter Blackburn, Mike Gminski, Jaime Maggio)

6:10 p.m., TNT, St. Louis
No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 15 Middle Tennessee (Brian Anderson, Steve Smith, Dana Jacobson)

7:10 p.m., TBS, Spokane
No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 13 Hawai’i (Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb, Ros Gold-Onwude)

7:45 p.m., truTV, Oklahoma City
No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Northern Iowa (Carter Blackburn, Mike Gminski, Jaime Maggio)

8:40 p.m., TNT, St. Louis
No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 2 Xavier (Brian Anderson, Steve Smith, Dana Jacobson)

9:40 p.m., TBS, Spokane
No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 St. Joseph’s (Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb, Ros Gold-Onwude)

Tournament Snacks: Recapping a great day in NCAA tournament action

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, left, drives for the basket as Arkansas Little Rock forward Roger Woods, center, and guard Kemy Osse defend during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game Saturday, March 19, 2016, in the NCAA Tournament in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Indiana 73, No. 4 Kentucky 67

The Fighting Tom Creans put together one of their most impressive performances of the season, holding Kentucky’s powerhouse back court in check as they advanced to the Sweet 16 to take on No. 1 seed North Carolina in Philly. To think, Tom Crean’s job was in jeopardy as recently as December. Now, he’s the reigning regular season Big Ten champion and into the second weekend after second Kentucky and John Calipari home.

It’s incredible where this Indiana team is defensively when compared to where they were 107 days ago.

THIS ONE WAS GOOD, TOO: No. 4 Duke 71, No. 12 Yale 64

Here’s how weird this game was: Duke was up by 27 points at one point in the first half. The score was 46-19. Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard and Brandon Ingram were rolling. Yale came back and cut the lead to three points, which should be something close to a win in its own right. Instead, it feels like the Elis left a number of opportunities on the table, like they gave away a chance to win a game against Duke in which they trailed by 27 points. How weird is that?

HEY, LOOK WHO’S IN THE SWEET 16!: No. 11 Gonzaga

We counted out the Zags six weeks ago. That looks pretty foolish now, doesn’t it? Domas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer dominated both No. 6 Seton Hall and No. 3 Utah this weekend, cruising their way into the Sweet 16. And when you look at the rest of that region, might this be Gonzaga’s best chance at reaching a Final Four?

UPDATED 2016 NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET

2016 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Bracket - 3.19.16

BUT MOSTLY, THE FAVORITES TOOK CARE OF BUSINESS

  • No. 11 Wichita State’s season — and the college careers of Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet — came to a close on Saturday against No. 3 Miami. I tried to put into perspective what those two did for the Shocker program.
  • No. 4 seed Iowa State steamrolled No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock, cruising into the Sweet 16 where they will take on …
  • … No. 1 Virginia, who got challenged by No. 9 Butler until Malcolm Brogdon went into full star mode. Is there anyone in the country more underrated than Brogdon?
  • No. 1 Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 with a blowout win over UConn.
  • And No. 1 North Carolina outlasted Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil en route to a Sweet 16 date with Indiana.

STARRED

STRUGGLED

No. 11 Gonzaga is in the Sweet 16 after steamrolling No. 3 Utah

Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis, front, drives past Utah forward Jakob Poeltl during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game Saturday, March 19, 2016, in the NCAA Tournament in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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Eric McClellan had 22 points, Domas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer combined for 36 points and Gonzaga held Utah’s all-american Jakob Poeltl to a five point outing as the No. 11 Zags advanced to the Sweet 16 with an 82-59 win over the No. 3 Utes.

This performance came 48 hours after Gonzaga rolled over No. 6 seed Seton Hall, who was one of the hottest teams in the country when they rolled into Denver. The Pirates were coming off of a title in the Big East tournament and three wins over Xavier and Villanova in the span of eight days.

And here’s the best news of all: Gonzaga will face the winner of Sunday’s battle between No. 10 Syracuse and No. 15 Middle Tennessee State for the right to go to the Elite 8, and regardless of who they end up getting matched up with, the Zags are going to have the two best players on the floor in Wiltjer and Sabonis.

This has been one of Mark Few’s most impressive coaching performances in his 15-year tenure in Spokane.

Think about it.

This program lost two four-year starters in their backcourt, became a team built entirely around their big men and then lost one of their most important bigs to back surgery in December.

They’ve had to answer questions about point guard play, about perimeter shooting, about how they were going to play defense, about how they were going to be able to protect the rim. Where is their front court depth? Who can create a shot for themselves at the end of a clock?

To me, the difference of late has been the play of McClellan and Josh Perkins. McClellan has scored at least 20 points in three of the last five games, giving the Zags a legitimate perimeter scoring threat outside of Wiltjer. Can he keep playing at this level? Perkins averaged 16.5 points in wins over Saint Mary’s and BYU in the WCC tournament and has now scored double-figures in five of the last eight games.

The Zags needed to win the WCC tournament just to get into the NCAA tournament, and here they are, with their best chance to get to the Final Four since … ever?

Because if they can find a way to play 80 more minutes of basketball the way they’ve played the last 80 minutes, they very well could end up finding themselves on a plane to Houston.

Brogdon, No. 1 Virginia advance to Sweet 16 with win over No. 9 Butler

Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) and forward Anthony Gill (13) cheer their team during the second half against Georgia Tech in an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament, in Washington on Thursday, March 10, 2016. Virginia defeated Georgia Tech 72-52. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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Virginia advanced to the Sweet 16 on Saturday evening as the No. 1 seed Wahoos knocked off No. 9 Butler, 77-69, in a second round game in Raleigh.

The Bulldogs came out on fire, and by the Bulldogs, I mean Andrew Chrabascz. Butler junior big man scored 12 points in the first half and, early in the second half, had scored 23 of Butler’s first 37 points. That’s when Malcolm Brogdon was switched onto Charabascz and completely took the game over.

Virginia went small, with Brogdon essentially playing the four, and the best defender in the ACC took Chrabascz out of the game. He would score just two points in the final 16 minutes of the game as Brogdon would go on to score 14 of his team-high 22 — and of Virginia’s 54 second half — points during those final 16 minutes.

This isn’t the first time that head coach Tony Bennett has made a change like this to slow down an opponent that was on fire.

In Virginia’s win at Duke back in January, Brandon Ingram at one point made seven straight shots and scored 18 straight Duke points before Brogdon was switched onto him and slowed him down. The 6-foot-4 senior, a first-team NBCSports.com All-American, is one of the nation’s most under-appreciated players for this very reason. He can take over a basketball game on both ends of the floor, and he showed off that ability on Saturday.

As good as Brogdon was, he wasn’t the only Hoo to go off in the second half.

Virginia missed just seven shots the entire second half, hitting 12 of their first 13 shots from the floor, en route to those 54 points. They got the offensive rebound on three of those seven misses and scored on each of those three offensive rebounds.

I wonder what people who think that Virginia can’t score will say about that?

More importantly, it’s evidence that the Hoos can fill it up when they need to, because Virginia will be facing off with No. 4 Iowa State in the next round in one of the most intriguing stylistic battles of the tournament. The Cyclones want to spread the offense out and play in transition. Virginia plays that Pack-Line defense and controls tempo better than anyone in the country.

What wins out?