Arizona and Virginia cruised into the final 16 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament after fellow No. 1 regional seed Wichita State had its unbeaten season end with a 78-76 loss to Kentucky.
Arizona (32-4), the top seed in the West Region, routed No. 8 Gonzaga 84-61 last night. Virginia, seeded No. 1 in the East, defeated No. 8 Memphis 78-60 to reach the regional semifinals for the first time since 1995.
Wichita State (35-1), the top team in the Midwest Region, became the first of the four No. 1 seeds ousted from the NCAA tournament when Fred VanVleet missed a last-second 3-pointer against eighth-seeded Kentucky. The Shockers were the first team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 1991.
“It’s been such a fun, enjoyable, magical season,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said at a news conference. “To have it end is going to be something that we have to get used to. We will look back at it and just be so proud.”
The University of Kansas, the second seed in the South, was eliminated yesterday with a 60-57 loss to 10th-seeded Stanford University. Iowa State, the third seed in the East, beat No. 6 North Carolina 85-83 on a layup by DeAndre Kane with two seconds left. UCLA, Tennessee and Baylor all advanced with third-round wins of 17 points or more.
Kentucky, whose eight national titles are second only to UCLA’s 11, advanced yesterday to play Louisville, the fourth seed in the Midwest, in the regional semifinals on March 28 in Indianapolis. The state rivals last played in the NCAA tournament during the 2012 Final Four, when Kentucky won en route to its most recent national championship.
The Wildcats (26-10), the nation’s No. 1 ranked team in the preseason, got a combined 39 points from freshman twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison against Wichita State. All five of Kentucky’s starters are freshmen.
Wichita State was led by 31 points from senior forward Cleanthony Early and shot 55 percent from the floor for the game, yet was outscored 47-38 during the second half in St. Louis. Kentucky took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by James Young with one minute, 40 seconds remaining.
Virginia next plays East Region fourth seed Michigan State on March 28 in New York. Up next for Arizona is fourth-seeded San Diego State on March 27 in the West Region semifinals.
Stanford, the 10th seed in the South, moves on to face Dayton on March 27 in Memphis after eliminating Kansas and holding star freshman Andrew Wiggins to four points, more than 13 below his season average. Dayton, an 11th seed, has upset No. 6 Ohio State and No. 3 Syracuse so far in the tournament.
The only other remaining team that was seeded 10th or worse is Tennessee (24-12), the 11th seed in the Midwest. The Volunteers, who rolled past Mercer 83-63 yesterday, next play No. 2 seed Michigan on March 28 in Indianapolis.
Iowa State (28-7), the third seed in the East, rallied from an eight-point deficit with less than four minutes left in San Antonio to beat North Carolina (24-10) and return to the final 16 for the first time since 2000.
Kane scored 24 points for the Cyclones, who advance to play No. 7 Connecticut on March 28 in New York.
This is just the second time that both North Carolina and Duke were eliminated in the NCAA tournament’s first weekend since the field expanded in 1985. The only other time was 1996.
UCLA (28-8), seeded fourth in the South, rolled past No. 12 Stephen F. Austin 77-60 to reach the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008. The Bruins advance to play top-seeded Florida on March 27 in Memphis.
Baylor, the sixth seed in the West, had the most lopsided win of the third round, beating No. 3 Creighton 85-55 yesterday. The next opponent for the Bears (26-11) is second-seeded Wisconsin on March 27 in Anaheim, California.
“This time of year you just want to have to focus on somebody else rather than the season being over,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “You play anybody in the Sweet Sixteen, you know it’s going to be a great team and a great coach. We’re excited for the opportunity.”
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