The Sweet 16 rolled on with double the action on Friday.
It was the first day of the women’s Sweet 16. Top overall seed South Carolina is advancing to the Elite Eight after beating North Carolina, 69-61. Another No. 1 seed advanced: Stanford is headed to its third straight Elite Eight after a 72-66 win over Maryland .
On the men’s side, the Cinderella story continues for the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, becoming the first 15th-seed to ever reach the Elite Eight. The lone remaining No. 1 seed, Kansas, also advanced with a win over Providence.
Follow along for live updates and analysis from the USA TODAY Sports staff.
Sweet 16 winners, losers: Razorbacks save SEC’s bacon, Coach K survives, Gonzaga falls apart
CHICAGO — In a battle between two double-digit seeds not expected to be here in the Sweet 16, a veteran-laden Miami (Fla.) team made enough plays down the stretch to put away a relentless Iowa State 70-56 on Friday to reach the Elite Eight in the men’s NCAA Tournament.
It’s coach Jim Larrañaga’s first advancement past the Sweet 16 with Miami in 11 seasons. The Hurricanes (26-10) are now one win away from getting the seasoned coach back to the Final Four — where he memorably guided mid-major George Mason in 2006. With Miami’s hot shooting, alley-oop dunking and experienced roster thanks to the extra COVID year of eligibility, they’re seriously dangerous and have become the biggest surprise of this March Madness not named the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.
Due to a down year in the ACC regular season, Miami was a bubble team at the start of the month but did enough to comfortably hear its name called on Selection Sunday as a No. 10 seed. Now, with North Carolina upsetting UCLA on Friday and Duke advancing Thursday, the ACC has three teams still standing.
Against an Iowa State squad that kept counter-punching, the Hurricanes rode the offense prowess of all-ACC guard Kameron McGusty, who had 27 points off four three-pointers. Jordan Miller chipped in 16 points, while Charlie Moore steered the ship with nine assists on the night.
– Scott Gleeson
No. 8 North Carolina got a career-best performance from sophomore guard Caleb Love and beat No. 4 UCLA 73-66 to make an unexpected advance into the Elite Eight under first-year coach Hubert Davis.
Love scored 30 points, highlighted by six makes from 3-point range, to prevent the Bruins from making a second straight trip to the Final Four.
After an uneven regular season, the Tar Heels are one of a few teams heating up at the right time — including rival Duke, setting up the potential for an unprecedented Final Four matchup in the final NCAA Tournament of Mike Krzyzewski’s career.
Love was one of four players in double figures, joining forward Armando Bacot (14 points and 15 rebounds), forward Brady Manek (13 points) and guard RJ Davis (12 points). UCLA was led by guard Jules Bernard, who scored 16 points.
The win sends UNC into a matchup with No. 15 Saint Peter’s, which knocked off No. 3 Purdue to become the highest seed to ever reach the Elite Eight.
– Paul Myerberg
SPOKANE, Wash. — Stanford rolled to a (mostly) easy 72-66 win over Maryland in the Sweet 16 Friday, advancing to its third Elite 8 in a row. The defending champion Cardinal will meet Texas Sunday evening with a ticket to the Final Four on the line.
The two teams met (much) earlier this season in Maples Pavilion, with then-No. 25 Texas upsetting the Cardinal 61-56.
Friday night, three Stanford players score 15 or more, led by Lexie Hull’s 1. Hull, playing in her hometown with her twin sister Lacie, also grabbed nine rebounds. Every player who logged minutes for the Cardinal scored except Ashten Prechtel, who played just three minutes.
Stanford led for more than 38 minutes, and dominated the boards, 50-32, which surely helped make up for its 18 turnovers. The Cardinal held Maryland to 34% from the field and just 16% from 3. Stanford blitzed the Terrapins early, using precise backdoor cuts for easy scores to take a 39-23 lead into the locker room.
– Lindsay Schnell
Morgan Maly scored a career-high 21 points to help 10th-seeded Creighton beat Iowa State 76-68 in Friday night’s NCAA Tournament, matching the lowest ever seed to reach a women’s regional final.
Tatum Rembao added 19 for the Bluejays, who entered the Greensboro Region semifinals savoring the program’s first run to the Sweet 16. Now, Creighton has joined Lamar in 1991 and Oregon in 2017 as 10-seeds that pushed to the Elite Eight.
The challenge ahead is even bigger for the Greensboro Region upstart: a matchup with No. 1 overall tournament seed South Carolina for a trip to the Final Four.
— The Associated Press
And just like that the Big Ten disappeared from the NCAA men’s tournament.
No conference put more teams in the field, yet the league saw all nine of its teams eliminated before the Elite Eight when third-seeded Purdue was knocked out by 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s that should be considered an extreme upset only if you overlook the league’s history of tournament failures.
No Big Ten team has won the national title since 2000 when Michigan State prevailed. It seems a rite of passage every March to watch the conference put high seeds in the field and see them upset.
The nine teams in this year’s field were three more than any other conference. The group included co-champions Illinois and Wisconsin, seeded fourth and second, respectively. Both were out in the second round. Conference tournament winner Iowa didn’t get out of the first round.
— Erick Smith
CHICAGO — Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self again downplayed the significance this week of the Jayhawks potentially passing the Kentucky Wildcats for the lead in all-time victories.
A few days before Kansas would take on Providence in the Sweet 16, Self said all that would mean is the Jayhawks — then tied with Kentucky — topped the Friars. It’d be great, he allowed, and something they could potentially use in recruiting, but ultimately not something that’s a driving force for why Kansas would want to keep its season alive. They wanted to win, because that would give them a spot in the Elite Eight.
Regardless of the significance, Friday saw the Jayhawks ensure both potentialities would come to pass.
Kansas topped Providence in a 66-61 victory that’ll send the Jayhawks to face either Iowa State or Miami for a spot in the Final Four, and puts Kansas at 2,354 all-time wins.
– Jordan Guskey
CHICAGO — Kansas, the last remaining No. 1 in the men’s NCAA Tournament, is the only top seed remaining in the tournament, escaping Providence 66-61 to advance to the Elite Eight.
It’s coach Bill Self’s ninth trip to the Elite Eight with Kansas and 11th of his career, as the Jayhawks (31-6) are one win away from the Final Four. They’ve now won eight in a row, entering the NCAA Tourney having won the tournament in the Big 12, the toughest conference in the country per NET ranking.
The Friars (27-6) didn’t go away without a fight, storming back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to take their first lead of the game 48-47 with 5:50 remaining. But Kansas rose to the occasion, with a pivotal three-point play by Jalen Wilson with 5:21 left, turning the momentum in the Jayhawks’ favor. Christian Braun’s dagger three-pointer with 2:57 left also helped put the game away.
The last March Madness that saw all four top seeds go down before the Final Four was 2011. KU is this tournament’s last hope, after top overall seeds Gonzaga and Arizona were knocked out Thursday and Baylor bowed out in the second round. According to NCAA statistics, three of four No. 1 seeds make it to the Elite Eight every year on average.
– Scott Gleeson
Can Saint Peter’s Cinderella story be written any better?
The Peacocks historic upset of Purdue on Friday coincides with National Peacock Day. That’s right, the Peacocks became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament history on a day that seems destined for them.
Saint Peter’s Twitter account commemorated March 25 online earlier in the day, and after the big win, the day will have an added significance for the Peacocks.
– Cydney Henderson
The dream is still alive for Saint Peter’s.
After knocking off No. 2 Kentucky and No. 7 Murray State to become the third No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16, the Peacocks pulled off another upset by stunning No. 3 Purdue 67-64.
That makes Saint Peter’s the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight and continues one of the most engrossing and unforeseen postseason runs in men’s NCAA Tournament history.
The Peacocks were led by guard Daryl Banks III, who had 14 points. Forward Clarence Rupert had 11 points and guard Doug Edert scored 10 points off the bench.
Purdue forward Trevion Williams scored a game-high 16 points but star guard Jaden Ivey had only 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
– Paul Myerberg
SPOKANE — Last year, they went to the Elite 8 on an upset. This year, they’re going after doing what the higher seed is supposed to do — survive and advance.
It seems the Texas Longhorns are comfortable playing any role, as the second seed in the Spokane Region won 66-63 over Ohio State Friday night in Spokane Arena to advance in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Texas held off a furious rally from the Buckeyes late, and Ohio State missed multiple chances to take the lead or tie in the last 3:14 of the game. An 8-0 run from Ohio State pulled the Buckeyes within two, 60-58, but they could never get over the hump.
Texas was led by Joanne Allen-Taylor’s 17 points, and got 26 points from its bench in the win. The Longhorns also turned 17 Ohio State turnovers into 21 points.
Mikesell finished with 19 points for Ohio State.
– Lindsay Schnell
CHICAGO — With three No. 1 seeds out of the men’s NCAA Tournament, only Kansas remains. The way Providence was playing, it’s looking like at least one top seed will reach the Elite Eight.
A foul at the end of regulation on a 3-pointer helped the halftime score look closer than it actually was, with Kansas leading 26-17 at the break. The Friars shot a dreadful 1-for-13 (8%) from 3-point range and couldn’t get anything going offensively. Providence was just 7-for-35 from the floor (20%), with Kansas having blocked seven shots at halftime.
Remy Martin came off the bench to give Kansas offensive life with 13 points. The Arizona State transfer guard scored 20 points in KU’s second-round win over Creighton.
– Scott Gleeson
Third-seeded Purdue leads 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s 33-29 at halftime.
Sasha Stefanovic leads Purdue with 11 points and Zach Edey has seven for the Boilermakers, shooting 50% from the field despite nine turnovers. Clarence Rupert scored 11 for the Peacocks, who are shooting 36.7%. Jaylen Murray led Saint Peter’s into the half with a buzzer-beating layup.
– Cydney Henderson
Duke freshman Paolo Banchero isn’t looking past Saturday’s Elite Eight matchup against fourth-seeded Arkansas. But he’s also aware of who could be waiting for the Blue Devils in next week’s Final Four.
Second-seeded Duke (31-6) is one win away from a trip to New Orleans and a possible grudge match with arch-rival North Carolina, which faces fourth-seeded UCLA in Friday’s East Regional semifinal.
The Blue Devils defeated the Tar Heels 87-67 on Feb. 5 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill before UNC (27-9) spoiled Mike Krzyzewski’s home finale in a 94-81 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5.
“If we were to see each other that deep in the tournament, I’m sure it would be wild,” Banchero said.
Only once, during the 1991 NCAA Tournament, has Duke and UNC both been in the Final Four. Duke and UNC have never played each other in the NCAA Tournament.
– David Thompson
The entire college basketball universe has its eyes trained on Saint Peter’s and its “folk hero” Doug Edert, the mustachioed clutch shooter who has helped propel the No. 15 seed Peacocks on a Cinderella run to the men’s Sweet 16 against Purdue on Friday.
The ‘stache, Edert’s father Bill says, will stick around as long as Saint Peter’s is winning.
“They call James Harden ‘The Beard,’ ” Bill Edert told USA TODAY Sports. “Right now, Doug is ‘The Mustache.’
– Chris Bumbaca
PHILADELPHIA – The Peacocks (21-11) have shown a certain swagger in the tournament. That attitude, along with unexpectedly strong play, create a compelling combination.
“Just being on this coast, being in New York and New Jersey, you have a different type of toughness, a different type of swagger that you play the game of basketball with,” junior guard Daryl Banks said. “As far as a chip on your shoulder, it’s just a different breed of basketball, and that is what all of us are embracing.”
Saint Peter’s roster is a collection of under-recruited, overlooked players who have come together under coach Shaheen Holloway.
“Typically, those are the type of kids I like to recruit, guys who are under-recruited, have a chip on their shoulder with something to prove. Tough, hard-nosed kids, tough-minded,” Holloway said.
— Stephen Edelson, NorthJersey.com
Creighton assistant Carli Berger watched the Bluejays upset No. 2 seed Iowa last Sunday from home, after she gave birth to her son Luke on March 15 and the team FaceTimed her from the court. Meanwhile, South Dakota strength and conditioning coach Caleb Heim, whose wife Katie gave birth to son Bennett (also) on March 15, texted motivational videos and coordinated meals.
— Jordan Mendoza
SAN ANTONIO — At its best, basketball is a beautiful game of skill and artistry mixed with soaring athleticism that will inspire leaping from seats. At its most dramatic, it’s often barroom brawl in gym shorts.
The NCAA has made its choice about what kind of sport it wants college basketball to be on the biggest stage. It prefers a game where freedom of movement is a myth, the lane is constantly clogged and nobody is going near the rim without risking half their body getting covered in scratches and welts. It is ridiculously physical, inconsistently officiated and often just plain ugly.
But it’s pretty good television, and it certainly reveals something about what wins in the NCAA tournament.
Though we’re supposed to call it a crazy night when two No. 1 seeds fall, as Gonzaga and Arizona both did within a couple hours Thursday, those twin results fit perfectly within the paradigm of what college basketball has become.
Whatever concept you have of “best team wins” has never been more irrelevant. In this tournament, the toughest, most physical team wins.
— Dan Wolken
SAN FRANCISCO – Nolan Richardson, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the Arkansas Razorbacks to the 1994 national title, has a prediction about Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell tour.
It’s going to end of Saturday, at the Chase Center in the Elite Eight.
That’s when the fourth-seeded Arkansas plays the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils.
“When you look at it with the eye test, when they both (teams) play to their potentials, I think the Razorbacks are three, four, five points better at this point, hopefully because of maturity,’’ Richardson said Friday.
In 1994, his Razorbacks beat Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, 76-72, in the national championship game.
– Josh Peter