Previewing your college hoops weekend



Sat. 12:30 pm: No. 17 Wisconsin @ Northwestern: There may not be a team in the country that needs a win on Saturday as badly as the Wildcats need this win. This was supposed to be the year for Northwestern. Most of the experts expected the Wildcats to compete for a tournament bid, and while it is far too early in the season to count them out, its been a tough go of things thus far. They have lost just about every meaningful game that they have played — including their first four against the Big Ten’s heavyweights — but at least now they have a healthy John Shurna.

Wisconsin is a good matchup for Northwestern. The Wildcats are not a very good defensive team by any stretch of the imagination, and Wisconsin will surely exploit that. They are the country’s sixth best team in terms of offensive efficiency in very large part due to their offensive execution. It also helps to have talents like Jon Leuer, Jordan Taylor, and Keaton Nankivil executing that offense. Bo Ryan is a great coach, and I have no doubt that he will be able to scheme a way for the Badgers to score.

But Northwestern is pretty good offensively as well, and while the Badgers low scoring games might lead you to believe that they are great defensively, those numbers are more a result of their snail’s pace — they are the third slowest team in all of college basketball — than a stifling defense.

Wisconsin also struggles to defend the three, which just so happens to be Northwestern’s strongest strong suit. The Wildcats run a Princeton-style offense, and with shooters seemingly everywhere on the floor, they are quite successful at spreading the floor and getting good looks. If the threes are falling, the Badgers could be in trouble.


Sat. 2:00 pm: Tennessee @ No. 8 UConn: You can call Tennessee’s win at Georgia the by product of a couple lucky calls, and I probably won’t disagree with you. You can say their 17 point comeback against Vanderbilt was fluky, and you’d have a very good point. But what you cannot argue is that the Vols look like they are regaining some of the confidence and swagger that they had in beating Pitt and Villanova. Tennessee also is a good defensive team when they want to be. Melvin Goins is strong, quick, and athletic, and if you saw what he and Scotty Hopson did to Villanova’s back court defensively, then you wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to slow down Kemba Walker. Brian Williams and John Fields are also both big and strong enough to give Alex Oriakhi fits. Throw in the fact that Bruce Pearl is back for this one, and you should expect Tennessee to come out firing on all cylinders.

Sat. 6:00 pm: No. 12 Kentucky @ South Carolina: Quick, take a guess at who is currently leading the SEC East as the only 3-1 team? Give up? Its South Carolina. The Gamecocks are a scrappy team, led by Sam Muldrow and Bruce Ellington, that has already beaten Florida and Vanderbilt. If you remember back to last season, Devan Downey led the Gamecocks to a memorable win over then-undefeated Kentucky in Columbia. The Wildcats have also struggled in true road games, losing three of four to Georgia, Alabama, and UNC. Ellington may not be Downey, but anyone that saw his performance against Vanderbilt would not be surprised if he rose to the occasion on Saturday.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 9 BYU @ Colorado State: It feels almost criminal to say anything bad about the Jimmer Show right now, but this Colorado State team is a lot better than they are getting credit for. They are coming off of a 15 point win in Vegas against UNLV and also beat Southern Miss and Ole Miss down in Cancun during the Christmas holiday. BYU doesn’t have a great front court, meaning it could be tough for them to matchup with Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin, who of the best forwards you have never seen play. Oh, and CSU held Ole Miss’s Chris Warren to 11 points on 3-17 shooting in Cancun. If they can slow down Jimmer — who had his worst game of the season against TCU his last time out — they have enough that they could spring this upset.

Sat. 10:30 pm: No. 25 Arizona @ Washington State
: Arizona has not been a great team on the road this season. They already lost this season at Oregon State and are coming off of a pretty thorough beating at the hands of U-Dub on Thursday night. Wazzu may be in the middle of the Pac-10 right now, but they will have Reggie Moore back for this one. They also have one of the best perimeter scoring duos in the country in Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden, although Aden has struggled a bit of late, reaching double figures only three times in his last seven games. If DeAngelo Casto can avoid getting into foul trouble and slow down Derrick Williams, Arizona could very well head back to Tucson having been swept.


Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 1 Ohio State @ No. 22 Illinois: This will be a real test for the Illini. It is the Big Ten’s worst kept secret that Illinois’ front line is far from overpowering, to say the least. Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale, while both talented front court players, are not known for their physical play. Should I mention that the Buckeyes have a kid by the name of Jared Sullinger on their roster who just so happens to be the best low post positional scorer in the country? Ohio State plays tremendous defense, but Illinois is a good offensive team when they play like they did against Michigan State for the first 29 minutes, i.e. when their shots are falling. The key for the Buckeyes will be to keep Demetri McCamey from being able to put the ball on the floor, get into the lane, and kick the ball out to shooters. Tisdale may be the key offensively. His ability to score on the perimeter could cause trouble, as OSU doesn’t exactly have the most mobile front court. Expect a lot of pick-and-pops.

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 7 Villanova @ No. 3 Syracuse: The past few seasons, it hasn’t gotten much better than a Big East showdown, and this game is no different. Hopefully, Jay Wright has tape of Pitt’s win against Syracuse from this week, because they gave a clinic on how to beat the zone — getting the ball to this high post. Now, Nova does not have the kind of versatile big men that Pitt had (namely, Nasir Robinson), but they do have better penetrators at the guard spot. Pitt’s success came when they screened the top of the zone, so expect some of that from the Wildcats. If Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns can get to the foul line area and find the open man, they have a shot at this. Two other notes — Kris Joseph reportedly practiced on Thursday, meaning he should be ready to play on Saturday, as he fights back from a concussion he suffered against Cincinnati. And when Corey Stokes hits four or more threes, Villanova has lost one game his entire career.

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 24 Kansas State @ No. 10 Texas A&M: This is a huge game for Kansas State, who desperately needs to string together a couple of wins if they want to turn their season around. Texas proved that the Aggies are very beatable, especially when you have a couple of big men inside. Kansas State does, in Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts. The problem? K-State cannot score, and A&M is good at controlling tempo and making things difficult for teams with mediocre offenses. The key for the Aggies will be whether or not their back court of BJ Holmes and Dash Harris can find any kind of offense. They were a combined 3-10 against Texas and didn’t take a single foul shot.

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 21 St. Mary’s @ Vanderbilt: Apparently this game is not on TV, which is a shame for basketball fans everywhere. St. Mary’s is looking more and more like the best team in the WCC. Mickey McConnell has been sensational this season, playing as efficiently and intelligently as you can as a point guard. He’s great off of the pick-and-roll, and is arguably the best shooter in the country when he gets time. Matthew Dellavedova is underrated on the wing, and Rob Jones showed everyone why the Gaels were excited about his addition with an 18 point, 13 rebound performance against his old team San Diego. It should be fun to see him match up with Jeff Taylor. Where the Gaels could be in trouble in inside. Fetsus Ezeli is as improved inside as anyone in the country, and Steve Tchiengang and Lance Goulbourne are both big, athletic players. This has the makings of a potential 7-10 matchup in the tournament.

Sat. 3:00 pm: Temple @ Xavier: Forgive me, Duquesne fans, but until one of these teams proves otherwise, I’m assuming that these are the two best teams in the A-10. Temple, who has been playing with a beatup Juan Fernandez, did just get dominated by the Dukes on the road, but I still like what they offer. They defend, they have size, and they have a star in the making in Ramone Moore. Xavier has been ravaged by injury this year, crippling their rotation, but they still have Tu Holloway, who we may as well dub Kemba Walker 2.0. If the Owls can slow down Holloway, they have a chance to win in the Cintas Center.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 11 Texas @ No. 2 Kansas: Its hard to believe that this, the one and only matchup between the two best teams in the Big XII, is not a lock for the best game of the day. The Jayhawks have arguably the best front court duo in the country in the Morrii. Their both talented and versatile scorers that could eventually both go in the first round of the draft. Throw in Thomas Robinson, a potential NBA Draft pick, off the bench, and Tristan Thompson and Gary Johnson will have their hands full up front. That said, I’m not sure Kansas has an answer for Jordan Hamilton, the Longhorn’s star sophomore that has blossomed into one of the best scorer’s in the country. Texas wins because of their defense, but Kansas may actually be a better team on that end of the floor. I could write a thousand words previewing this game, but only two are really needed — just watch.

Sat. 4:00 pm: VCU @ Old Dominion: For my money, these are the two best teams in the CAA, and they couldn’t be anymore different. ODU is a grind-it-out defensive team whose best offense at times is to crash the offensive glass that loves to slow the pace. VCU presses, shoot a lot of threes, and likes to play zone in the half court. The most important player on the floor? VCU’s center Jamie Skeen. They are going to need a big-time rebounding performance out of him Saturday.

Sat. 4:00 pm: UNLV @ New Mexico: There is an argument to be made that this is the most important game of the day. UNLV is currently sitting at 2-3 in the MWC. New Mexico is just 1-3. Safe to say, both are really struggling right now, and both desperately need a win to remain relevant in the conference — and at-large — race. For the loser, it may end up meaning that a miracle run to close out the season, or a win in the conference tournament, is the only way they will be dancing.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Marquette @ No. 16 Notre Dame
: Marquette just beat the Irish by 22 points in the Bradley Center, but as we’ve said so many times in this space, Notre Dame is a different team at home and on the road. Marquette is reknowned for their ability to turn every game into a barnburner, and this one should be no different. What makes this game all the more intriguing is how well their personnel matchup. Both are guard heavy teams and both have a bevy of skilled and versatile front court players. The Irish have finally gotten Carleton Scott back from injury, which should be a boost for them.

Sat. 7:00 pm: Boston College @ Florida State: Want to hear something crazy? Boston College and Florida State are currently tied with Duke for first in the ACC. Even crazier? Neither can remotely be considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament. We have been talking for a long time about whether someone will emerge as the second best team in the conference. That team may just be the winner of this game. Reggie Jackson is the key. He’s a terrific talent, but FSU also happens to be one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 18 Purdue @ No. 13 Michigan State: Capping off a day loaded with great games is ESPN’s Gameday battle between the Boilermakers and the Spartans. Purdue started out the season strong, but has slumped a bit of late, losing two of three and needing a late JaJuan Johnson jumper to beat Penn State on Wednesday. Michigan State, on the other hand, seems to finally be settling into a rhythm. They pulled out wins against Wisconsin and Northwestern at home in overtime, and while they lost to Illinois on the road, the Spartans started to finally look like the Spartans. A couple of made jumpers down the stretch, and that outcome would have been different. E’Twaun Moore has been struggling the past five games, and Purdue is going to beed him to wake up. For Michigan State, the key is going to be avoiding settling for jumpers against Purdue’s stingy defense. I expect a big game out of Draymond Green, who is a matchup problem for Purdue, but unless Johnson is struggling from the floor, I don’t see the Spartans being able to slow him down, even with Delvon Roe’s improved play on the defensive end.



  • 7:00 pm: Belmont @ USC-Upstate: Belmont is beating Atlantic Sun opponents by 28 points a game. USCU is 2-15 on the season. This could get ugly.
  • 7:00 pm: Green Bay @ Butler: I mean, its Butler.


  • 11:00 am: George Mason @ James Madison: There are five teams at the top of the CAA. These are two of them.
  • 12:00 pm: Richmond @ UMass: Would you be surprised if I told you UMass was tied for second in the A-10 with Richmond?
  • 1:30 pm: Colorado @ Oklahoma: If Colorado is remotely for real, they have to win this game.
  • 2:00 pm: Stanford @ UCLA: It wasn’t too long ago that this was annually a huge game.
  • 2:00 pm: Wright State @ Cleveland State: Huge game in the Horizon.
  • 2:00 pm: Charlotte @ Duquesne: Duquesne looks like they could really be the best team in the A-10.
  • 2:00 pm: Hofstra @ William & Mary: Charles Jenkins has put this Pride team on his back. It would be a great story if he could carry them to the CAA title.
  • 2:30 pm: Clemson @ Maryland: Maryland passes the eye test, but they haven’t been able to get a big win this season.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 4 Pitt @ DePaul: I don’t think that Pitt will lose their first Big East game this weekend.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 5 Duke @ Wake Forest: Wake Forest lost to Georgia Tech 74-39. What’s the spread on this game going to be?
  • 4:00 pm: Arizona State @ No. 20 Washington: The Huskies proved themselves to be the best team in the Pac-10 when they beat Arizona. Will there be a letdown? Can Arizona State turn their season around?
  • 4:00 pm: Mississippi State @ Georgia: Renardo Sidney, Dee Bost, and Ravern Johnson vs. Trey Thompkins, Gerald Robinson, and Travis Leslie? That will be fun.
  • 4:00 pm: Appalachian State @ Charleston: Donald Lee vs. Andrew Goudelock? Yes please.
  • 4:00 pm: St. John’s @ Cincinnati: Games like this will help weed out the pretenders and the contenders for an at-large bid from the middle of the Big East.
  • 4:30 pm: Chattanooga @ Furman: Can the Mocs rebound from an embarrassing loss to Wofford?
  • 4:30 pm: Hampton @ Bethune-Cookman: Big game at the top of the MEAC.
  • 4:30 pm: Morgan State @ Delaware State: Ditto.
  • 5:00 pm: No. 15 Louisville @ Providence: Two pressing teams that jack up threes? If they are both hot, this could reach the 90’s.
  • 5:00 pm: Creighton @ Missouri State: This is almost a must-win for Creighton if they want to remain in the hunt for the MVC title.
  • 7:00 pm: No. 19 Minnesota @ Michigan: Darius Morris, Michigan’s point guard, is one of the best players you have never seen.
  • 7:00 pm: Memphis @ UAB: Memphis will likely be without Wesley Witherspoon again. Can they continue their two game winning streak against another C-USA contender?
  • 8:00 pm: Arkansas @ Florida: I think we all want to erase the image of Florida’s 45-40 win over Auburn from our memory banks.
  • 8:00 pm: Gonzaga @ San Francisco: Gonzaga’s success has made the WCC better, but it has also made the conference tougher. The Dons are tied with the Zags at 3-1 in the league.
  • 8:05 pm: Indiana State @ Wichita State: Another huge game at the top of the MVC. Its also ISU’s first real road test in league play.
  • 9:00 pm: Iowa State @ No. 14 Missouri: The Cyclones are better than we expected, but they’ve come up short a couple of times in Big XII play. Their threes will need to fall if they want to win.
  • 9:05 pm: Montana State @ Montana: Second place in the Big Sky is on the line.
  • 11:00 pm: New Mexico State @ Utah State: I think we all expected these to be the two best teams in the WAC. If you haven’t seen Troy Gillenwater play, he’s worth the two hours.


  • 2:00 pm: South Florida @ West Virginia: One day soon we are going to find out who the real West Virginia is. If we do on Sunday, its bad news for the Mountaineers.
  • 4:00 pm: Belmont @ East Tennessee State: The biggest game of the Atlantic Sun schedule to date.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Caitlin Clark leads Iowa to first Final Four since 1993

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SEATTLE – Caitlin Clark put on quite a show, having one of the greatest performances in NCAA Tournament history to help Iowa end a 30-year Final Four drought.

She had 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the No. 2 seed Hawkeyes to a 97-83 win over fifth-seeded Louisville on Sunday night and send the team to its first women’s Final Four in since 1993.

“I dreamed of this moment as a little girl, to take a team to the Final Four and be in these moments and have confetti fall down on me,” said Clark, who is a Iowa native.

The unanimous first-team All-American was as dominant as she’s been all season in getting the Hawkeyes to Dallas for the women’s NCAA Tournament national semifinals on Friday night. The Seattle 4 Region champion will face the winner of the Greenville 1 region that has South Carolina playing Maryland on Monday night.

“I thought our team played really well. That’s what it’s all about. I was going to give it every single thing I had,” said Clark, who was the region’s most outstanding player. “When I came here I said I wanted to take this program to the Final Four, and all you’ve got to do is dream. And all you’ve got to do is believe and work your butt off to get there. That’s what I did, and that’s what our girls did and that’s what our coaches did and we’re going to Dallas, baby.”

Iowa (30-6) hadn’t been to the Final Four since Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer led the team to its lone appearance in 1993. Before Sunday, the team had only been to one other Elite Eight – in 2019 – since the Final Four team.

Clark had the 11th triple-double of her career and the 19th in NCAA Tournament history. She had the first 30- and 40-point triple-double in March Madness history.

“It’s like a storybook, been like that all year long,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We keep talking about destiny and how it’s supposed to happen. … She’s spectacular. I don’t know how else to describe what she does on the basketball court. A 40-point triple-double against Louisville to go to the Final Four. Are you kidding me? That’s mind-boggling.”

Trailing by five at the half, Louisville cut its deficit to 48-47 before Clark and the Hawkeyes scored the next 11 points as part of a 17-6 run to blow the game open. That brought most of the pro-Iowa crowd of nearly 12,000 fans to their feet.

Louisville was down 22 with just under 6 minutes left before going on a 13-1 run to get within 86-76 with 2:10 left. The Cardinals could get no closer.

Clark left the game with 22.7 seconds left to a loud ovation from the crowd as she hugged her coach. After the game, Clark paraded around the court holding the regional trophy high above her head, delighting the thousands of fans who stuck around to celebrate their Hawkeyes.

Hailey Van Lith scored 27 points and Olivia Cochran had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead Louisville (26-12).

Clark hit eight of the Hawkeyes’ season-high 16 3-pointers, including a few from just past the March Madness logo. It was a school record for the Hawkeyes in the NCAA Tournament, blowing past the previous mark of 13 against Gonzaga in 2011.

Louisville scored the first eight points of the game, forcing Iowa to call timeout. Then Clark got going. The 6-foot junior scored the first seven points for the Hawkeyes and finished the opening quarter with 15 points. When she wasn’t scoring, she found open teammates with precision passes.

She also had four assists in the first 10 minutes, accounting for every one of Iowa’s points as the Hawkeyes led 25-21.

Clark continued her mastery in the second quarter, hitting shots from all over the court, including a few of her famous long-distance 3s from near the logo.

Louisville was able to stay in the game, thanks to Van Lith. After scoring the first six points of the game, she went quiet before getting going late in the second quarter. She had 11 points in the second quarter as the Cardinals found themselves down 48-43 at the break.

Clark had 22 points and eight assists in the opening 20 minutes enroute to the fourth-highest scoring total all-time in a NCAA regional.

“She played great, she made some big shots,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of Clark. “She passed the ball well. we turned her over at times.”


Clark has 984 points this season and is looking to join former Hawkeye Megan Gustafson with 1,000 points in a single year. Four other players have done it, including Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist, who accomplished the feat this season. Kelsey Plum, Jackie Stiles and Odyssey Sims were the others to do it.


Van Lith once again played well in her home state. The small-town standout from 130 miles away from Seattle grew into being one of the best prep players in the country, the all-time state high school leader in scoring and now a star for the Cardinals.

Hundreds of fans from her hometown of Cashmere, which has a population of 3,200, took in the game, cheering the Louisville star on.


It was a bittersweet day for Iowa assistant coach Jan Jensen. Her dad Dale died in the morning after battling pancreatic cancer for a year. He was 86.

“He didn’t sound so good the last couple days and I was kind of fretting, ‘When am I going to go if we go to Dallas?’” she said. “I just feel like he knew. He was never a high maintenance guy, he was never a guy who made it complicated with me in anything. So I think, he told my people at home, I’m not ready to go until Jan’s team is done.”

Miller, Wong rally Miami past Texas 88-81 for 1st Final Four

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the eve of Miami playing for a place in its first Final Four, the quiet conversation floating through the team hotel did not revolve around all that the Hurricanes had accomplished this season. Instead, they talked about what had happened to bring last season to a close.

The sting of an Elite Eight defeat was fresh to those who were there. And they made everyone else feel it, too.

“That loss sat with me for a really long time,” the Hurricanes’ Jordan Miller said. “It doesn’t go away, and the fact that we had the opportunity to come back and make amends, make it right, that’s what was pushing me.”

Miller responded with a perfect performance against second-seeded Texas in the Midwest Region final Sunday. Along with Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Isaiah Wong and March dynamo Nijel Pack, Miller rallied the Hurricanes from a 13-point second-half deficit for an 88-81 victory that clinched that long-awaited trip to the national semifinals.

“How hard we fought to come back in this game, especially on a stage like this, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Pack, one of Miami’s newcomers. “I know how much these guys wanted to win this game, especially being here last year and losing the Elite Eight, and now being able to take it to the Final Four is something special.”

Miller finished with 27 points, going 7 of 7 from the field and 13 of 13 from the foul line, while Wong scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half against the Longhorns, who had been the top remaining seed in a topsy-turvy NCAA Tournament.

Now, the No. 5 seed Hurricanes (29-7) have a date with No. 4 seed UConn on Saturday night in Houston. Two more Final Four newbies, fifth-seeded San Diego State and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, will play in the other national semifinal.

It’s the first time since seeding began in 1979 that no team seeded better than No. 4 made the Final Four, so perhaps it is fitting that Miami coach Jim Larrañaga is involved. He took George Mason there as an 11 seed 17 years ago to the day.

Miami was a 10 seed last year when it lost 76-50 to eventual national champion Kansas in a regional final.

“No one wanted to go home,” said Miller, coincidentally a George Mason transfer, who joined Duke’s Christian Laettner as the only players since 1960 to go 20 for 20 combined from the field and foul line in an NCAA tourney game. “We came together. We stuck together. We showed really good perseverance and the will – the will to just want to get there.”

After Miami climbed back from a 64-51 deficit with 13:22 to play, the game was tied at 79-all when Norchad Omier was fouled by the Longhorns’ Brock Cunningham while going for a loose ball. He made both of the foul shots to give the Hurricanes the lead, then stole the ball from Texas star Marcus Carr at the other end, and Wong made to more free throws with 34 seconds remaining to keep them ahead for good.

Miller kept drilling foul shots down the stretch to ice the Midwest Region title for the Hurricanes.

Wooga Poplar scored 16 points, and Pack followed up his virtuoso performance against top-seeded Houston with 15, as the same school that once dropped hoops entirely in the 1970s advanced to the game’s biggest stage.

“You just love when your players accomplish a goal they set out before the season,” Larrañaga said.

Carr led the Longhorns (29-9) with 17 points, though he was bothered by a hamstring injury late in the game. Timmy Allen added 16 and Sir’Jabari Rice had 15 in the finale of a season that began with the firing of Chris Beard over domestic violence charges that were later dropped and ended with interim coach Rodney Terry consoling a heartbroken team.

“These guys more than any group I’ve worked with in 32 years of coaching have really embodied, in terms of staying the course, being a team,” Terry said, choking up so hard on the postgame dais that he could barely speak. “They were so unselfish as a team, and they gave us everything they had. They really did.”

The Longhorns revealed about 90 minutes before tipoff that Dylan Disu, the Big 12 tourney MVP and early star of the NCAA Tournament, would miss the game with a foot injury. He hurt it in the second round against Penn State and only played about 90 seconds in the Sweet 16 against Xavier before watching the rest of that game in a walking boot.

Without their 6-foot-9 star, the Longhorns’ deep group of dangerous guards resorted to potshots from the perimeter against Miami’s porous defense. Rice hit two 3s early, Carr two of his own, and the Longhorns stormed to a 45-37 halftime lead.

On the other end, Texas tried to keep Pack and Wong from producing a sequel to their 3-point barrage against Houston.

Pack, who dropped seven 3s in the regional semifinal, didn’t even attempt one until there were 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half, and his best shot – a looping rainbow as he fell out of bounds – didn’t even count because it went over the backboard.

Wong took as many shots and scored as many points (two) as he had turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Longhorns’ advantage stretched to 13 in the second half, and tension built on the Miami bench. At one point, Harlond Beverly and Larrañaga got into a verbal spat and the 73-year-old coach yanked the backup guard from the game.

Fortunately for the ’Canes, Pack and Wong were poised, Poplar and Miller seemingly possessed.

Still trailing 72-64 with about eight minutes to play, Pack and Wong joined Miller and Omier in turbocharging a 13-3 run to give the Hurricanes a 77-75 lead, their first since the opening minutes. When Rice answered at the other end for Texas, Miller calmly made two go-ahead free throws to begin his late-game parade to the line.

Carr made a nifty turnaround jumper to tie the game again for Texas, but the Miami momentum never slowed. Omier made two free throws with a minute left, swiped the ball from Carr at the other end, and Miller and Co. finished it off.

“We just all bought into staying together, keeping that hope alive,” Miller said, “and the way we just willed this one through, I think everybody played really well, and I think it really shows the poise of this squad.”

San Diego State muscles past Creighton, makes 1st Final Four

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell converted a go-ahead free throw after he was fouled on a floater with 1.2 seconds left, and San Diego State muscled its way into its first Final Four, grinding out a 57-56 victory over Creighton on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region final.

Lamont Butler scored 18 points and Trammell had 12 for the fifth-seeded Aztecs (31-6), who slowed down the high-scoring, sixth-seeded Bluejays (24-13) and became the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the national semifinals.

The experienced Aztecs, in their sixth season under coach Brian Dutcher, will play the surprising East Region champion, ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic, on Saturday in Houston for a spot in the national title game.

With the game tied at 56-all on San Diego State’s final possession, Trammell drove toward the free-throw line, elevated for the shot and was fouled by Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard. Trammell missed the first free throw but converted the second.

Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman threw the ensuing inbound pass the length of the floor. San Diego State’s Aguek Arop and Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma both jumped for it and the ball deflected out of bounds. Officials reviewed the play and determined that time had expired, and the celebration was on for the Aztecs.

Scheierman had tied the game at 56-all when he stole an inbounds pass and converted a layup with 34 seconds remaining.

Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 17 points and Scheierman and Arthur Kaluma had 12 apiece for the Bluejays, who went 2 of 17 from 3-point range.

The Aztecs, who got this far thanks to defense and physical play, held the Bluejays to 23 second-half points on 28% shooting. Creighton shot 40% overall.

San Diego State shot 38% but got clutch baskets from Nathan Mensah, whose jumper gave the Aztecs a 56-54 lead with 1:37 left, and Arop, who made two straight shots to put San Diego State ahead 54-50 with 3:03 remaining.

Creighton, which beat San Diego State in overtime in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, fell just short of joining Big East rival UConn in the Final Four.

Kaluma played against his brother, San Diego State’s Adam Seiko. Their parents sat a few rows up at midcourt, sitting quietly before joining Seiko to celebrate.

UConn routs Gonzaga 82-54 for first Final Four in 9 years

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LAS VEGAS — Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points and UConn overwhelmed its fourth straight NCAA Tournament opponent, earning its first trip to the Final Four in nine years with an 82-54 blowout of Gonzaga on Saturday night.

The Huskies (29-8) have felt right at home in their first extended March Madness run since winning the 2014 national championship, playing their best basketball of what had been an up-and-down season.

“The Big East Conference is the best conference in the country, so we went through some struggles,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “But once we got out of that league and started playing nonconference teams again, we’ve been back to that team that looked like the best team in the country.”

UConn controlled the usually efficient Bulldogs at both ends in the West Region final, building a 23-point lead early in the second half to waltz right into the final section of the bracket.

The Huskies’ two NCAA Tournament first-round exits under Hurley are now well in the rearview mirror.

“If you’re playing for him, you’ve got to play up to that standard or else you’re not going to be out there,” UConn guard Andre Jackson Jr. said.

These elite Huskies did what the UConn women couldn’t for once and are headed to Houston, where they will play either Texas or Miami.

The Bulldogs (31-6) didn’t have the same second-half magic they had in a last-second win over UCLA in the Elite Eight.

Gonzaga allowed UConn to go on a late run to lead by seven at halftime and fell completely apart after All-American Drew Timme went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the second half.

The Zags shot 33% from the field – 7 of 29 in the second half – and went 2 for 20 from 3 to stumble in their bid for a third Final Four since 2017.

Timme had 12 points and 10 rebounds, receiving a warm ovation after being taken out of his final collegiate game with 1:50 left.

Alex Karaban scored 12 points and Adama Sanogo had 10 points and 10 rebounds for UConn.

The Zags started off like they had a Vegas hangover, firing off two air-balled 3-pointers and a wild runner by Timme. Once Gonzaga shook out the cobwebs, the Bulldogs kept the Huskies bridled with defense, with hard hedges on screens and Timme sagging off Jackson to protect the lane.

UConn countered by getting the ball into the strong hands of Sanogo, the facilitator. The UConn big man picked apart Gonzaga’s double-teams for five first-half assists, including two for layups. Karaban hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Huskies up 39-32 at halftime.

It got worse for Gonzaga to start the second half.

UConn pushed the lead to 12 and Timme picked up his third and fourth fouls in the opening 2 1/2 minutes – one on a charge, another on a box-out under the rim.

The Huskies really got rolling when Timme took a seat, using their defense to get out in transition and set up 3-pointers. A 14-3 run put UConn up 60-37 and Gonzaga coach Mark Few took the calculated gamble of bringing Timme back in.

It made little difference.

UConn kept up the pressure and kept making shots, blowing out yet another opponent and looking an awful lot like the favorite to win it all.

UConn’s Final Four streak ends with 73-61 loss to Ohio State

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Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — UConn’s record Final Four run is over, thanks to a monumental performance by Ohio State.

The Buckeyes ended UConn’s unprecedented streak of reaching 14 consecutive Final Fours, beating the Huskies 73-61 on Saturday in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

“The problem with streaks is the longer they go, you’re closer to it ending than you are to the beginning of it,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “It’s just a matter of time. I mean, it’s not if it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time when it’s going to happen. And it was going to happen sooner rather than later.”

Cotie McMahon scored 23 points for the Buckeyes, who snapped their three-decade Elite Eight drought. The Buckeyes hadn’t made a regional final since 1993, when they eventually lost in the title game to Texas Tech.

“When I had the opportunity to come to Ohio State, this was certainly the goal and the vision to go farther than they have been going,” said coach Kevin McGuff, who had never beaten UConn. “It’s not easy to get here, obviously. But I’m really proud of our team and our program of how we’ve evolved to be able to get to this point.

“Like I said, I mean, I have so much respect for Geno and his staff and all that they have accomplished. So for us to be able to win this game in the Sweet 16 is obviously extremely significant. They’re just hard to beat. They’re so well-coached. So this is a great win for us.”

The third-seeded Buckeyes (28-7) forced No. 2 seed UConn (31-6) into 25 turnovers, ending the Huskies’ season before the national semifinals for the first time in 14 seasons. UConn hadn’t been eliminated this early since 2006.

“It’s an impossibility to do what we have done already,” Auriemma said. “What’s the next highest streak? … And you take that in stride and you say, yeah, it was great while it lasted and it’s a credit to all the players that we had and all the times that you have to perform really, really well at this level.”

Ohio State will play Virginia Tech on Monday night in the Seattle 3 Region final with a trip to Dallas at stake. The Hokies beat Tennessee 73-64.

Ohio State, which had to rally from a double-digit deficit in the first round against James Madison, used full-court pressure to disrupt the Huskies’ offense.

“Our press is what we rely on, and sticking together and talking through it,” said Ohio State’s Jacy Sheldon, who had 17 points and went 10-for-10 from the foul line. “We knew UConn was going to be ready for us, so we knew we were going to have to stay consistent throughout the game.”

This has been the most trying year of Auriemma’s Hall of Fame career. UConn was beset by injuries and illnesses to both players and coaches, including a torn ACL that sidelined star Paige Bueckers all season. It got so bad the Huskies had to postpone a game when they didn’t have enough scholarship players. They also saw their unbelievable run of 30 years without consecutive losses come to an end.

“We picked the worst day to actually be doing the things that we’ve been struggling with all year long,” Auriemma said in a sideline interview during the game.

Lou Lopez Senechal scored 25 points for the Huskies, Azzi Fudd had 14, and Ohio State transfer Dorka Juhasz finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Huskies led 17-9 before Ohio State started scoring and turning UConn over with its full-court press. The Buckeyes scored the next 17 points, forcing 11 turnovers during that stretch, which spanned the first and second quarters. UConn had eight turnovers to start the second quarter, leaving Auriemma exasperated on the sideline.

McMahon was converting those turnovers into points for the Buckeyes as the freshman finished the half with 18 points – equaling the number of turnovers the Huskies had in the opening 20 minutes. Ohio State led 36-26 at the break.

This was only the sixth time UConn had trailed by double digits at the half in an NCAA Tournament game, according to ESPN. The Huskies lost all of those.

UConn did a better job of taking care of the ball in the second half and cut the deficit to 44-39 on Senechal’s layup with 3:53 left in the third quarter. Ohio State responded and still led by 10 after three quarters.

The Buckeyes didn’t let the Huskies make any sort of run in the fourth quarter. UConn got within nine with 4:30 left, but McMahon had a three-point play to restore the double-digit lead. The Huskies never threatened after that.

Now the Huskies will start their offseason sooner than any time in the past 17 years.


This was the first win for Ohio State over UConn in seven tries. The teams’ last meeting was in the 2019-20 regular season. … UConn was a paltry 7-for-15 from the foul line while Ohio State went 22-for-30. … UConn’s season high for turnovers was 27 against Princeton.


The Seattle Regionals are being played in Climate Pledge Arena – home of the Seattle Storm. UConn and Storm great Sue Bird was in the stands, sitting a few rows behind the scorers’ table. She received a loud ovation from the crowd when she was shown midway through the first quarter on the videoboards.


Juhasz graduated from Ohio State two years ago and flourished there, earning all-Big Ten honors twice. She came to UConn last year looking for a new challenge and wanting to play for a team that could compete for national championships. She’ll leave without one.

There is a mutual respect between Juhasz and the Buckeyes’ coaching staff.