Stories from the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight

Sweet 16

Kansas St. win thriller against Michigan St. in overtime

Kansas St. defeated Michigan St. 98-93 in the first game on Thursday’s slate. The Spartans tied the game on a layup by Tyson Walker with under five seconds left in regulation before Markquis Nowell led the Wildcats to a strong performance in overtime. 

The 5’8′ Nowell dished out an absurd 19 assists, good for an NCAA tournament record. He had four crucial ones in overtime as the Spartans simply had no answer for the guard’s playmaking skills. Guard A.J. Hoggard led Michigan St. with 25 points and six assists in the loss. 

The Wildcats advance to their first Elite Eight since 2017 and will face a surging FAU team. Meanwhile, coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans turn their focus to next season as they search for their first championship since 2000.

FAU rolls past the Vols

The team out of Boca Raton, Florida, took to the big stage at Madison Square Garden with poise and charisma. The FAU Owls inflicted their own game onto the defensively superior Tennessee Volunteers. 

Before entering March Madness, the Owls already had a historic season with a conference USA title and wins against Memphis and FDU in March Madness. 

Tennessee had massive momentum going into the matchup after beating Duke but was tripped up by Dusty May and an FAU team that has that “inner-dog” in them. 

Gonzaga beats UCLA again in a back-and-forth affair

The Gonzaga Bulldogs narrowly beat UCLA 79-76 in a game that came down to the very end. The Bruins led by 13 at halftime before Gonzaga came storming back in the second half led by Drew Timmie. 

Timmie, a senior, scored 36 points to lead a furious Gonzaga comeback effort. Julian Strawther made the big shot for Gonzaga, as he hit a clutch three with eight seconds left after UCLA had taken a 76-75 lead.

Gonzaga will face UConn in the Elite Eight as they aim to return to the Final Four after losing to Baylor in the championship in 2021. UCLA continues its search for its 12th NCAA championship, but the first since 1995. 

San Diego shocks Alabama

San Diego made a statement from the start of this game that they weren’t ready to stop winning. 

The Aztecs came out strong on both sides of the ball. Their defense was a huge reason why they were able to pull out this upset. They held Alabama’s two best scorers in March Madness to less than 10 points. Jahvon Quinerely finished with 10 points after averaging 19 points per game throughout the first three rounds of march madness. Brandon Miller, arguably one of the best players in college basketball currently, was held to 9 points. 

Offensively for the Aztecs, guard Darrion Trammell led the team with 21 points. 8 of 9 players who stepped on the floor for the Aztecs contributed offensively. The Aztecs were able to hold their 1st half lead of 5 points and extend it to win by 7 to move onto the Elite Eight. 

The final score was 71-64. The Aztecs advanced to take on Creighton in their next challenge.

Miam storms past Houston

The Hurricanes continued their hot streak in March Madness with a win against No.1 seed Houston. 

Nigel Pack led the way for Miami with 26 points in an 89-point effort. Houston’s premier defense let up its most points to the Hurricanes in the loss. The Hurricanes matched Houston’s elite rebounding – 32 rebounds each and shot a remarkable 51.7% in the game. 

While Houston struggled to get groovy in the game, head coach Jim Larrañaga and his Miami team did get groovy in the locker room after the win with some impressive dancing that will bring a massive smile to your face. 

Elite Eight

FAU comes out trumps in close matchup against Kansas State

When you made your brackets this year, very few would’ve picked this matchup that determined a spot in the Final Four in Houston, Texas. 

However, both FAU and Kansas St. have earned their keep in this tournament with stellar individual and team play. Kansas St. guard Markquis Nowell scored 30 and provided 14 assists, but it wasn’t enough, with four FAU players scoring double digits in the victory.

Kansas St. head coach Jerome Tang gave nothing but respect for FAU, saying, “your toughness, your togetherness, your ability to make plays for each other, the way you communicate with each other, nobody can beat y’all,” in their locker room after the game. 

UConn blows out Gonzaga

The Huskies blew out the Bulldogs 82-54 on Saturday evening, led by a unified team effort. 

Jordan Hawkins led the Huskies with 20 points, including six three-pointers made. Seven UConn players had at least eight points in the blowout. The Bulldogs were coming off an incredibly close win against UCLA, and the motivated UConn team simply outmatched the mentor Drew Timme struggled with just 12 points on five made shots from the field. 

UConn is searching for its first NCAA championship since 2014 when they defeated Kentucky 60-54. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs go into next year searching for their first NCAA championship. 

Miami Isn’t Done Yet with statement win against Texas

Miami confirmed their spot in the final four for the first time in school history with a win against two-seed Texas who were without star Dylan Disu.

Still, ​​Jim Larrañaga, who took 11 seed Geroge Mason to the final four in 2006, was able to hurt Texas when it really mattered. The Hurricanes shot better from the charity stripe and the three-point and really turned it on in the game’s final minutes.

Jordan Miller had a perfect night for the Hurricanes. Miller is the second player in NCCA March Madness history to go 7 for 7 or better from the field and free throw line, racking up 27 points with a 100% field goal rate.

San Diego St survives Creighton

Creighton showed up and gave San Diego St their first scare of the tournament. A back and fourth basketball game that ended with the Aztecs on top by 1 point. The final score was 57-56. This was their first win of the tournament by less than 6 points. 

Creighton was on offensively, with three players scoring 12 or more points. The downfall was that only 5 players contributed offensively. The Aztecs’ defense showed up once again by keeping four of Creighton’s players who saw the floor scoreless. 

Offensively for San Diego St, Lamont Butler led the way with 18. The leading scorer from their previous win vs. Alabama, Darrion Trammell, also contributed 12 points for the Aztecs. 

The Aztecs now advance to the Final Four this weekend and will be facing the hottest team in college basketball, Florida Atlantic University. The Aztecs will have to show up and be on their game to compete with this FAU team.