North Carolina Joined by No. 13 Ohio in NCAA Tournament Final 16

The University of North Carolina and Michigan State reached the final 16 of college basketball’s national men’s tournament, while Ohio University became the first No. 13 seed to reach the regional semifinals since 2006.

North Carolina, the top team in the Midwest Regional, pulled away for an 87-73 win against Creighton University, though the Tar Heels’ victory yesterday was tempered when record-setting point guard Kendall Marshall broke his wrist.

“Kendall’s an intricate part of the team, to say the least,” North Carolina forward John Henson said at a news conference. “I know it’s going to hurt a little bit, but we don’t know what his status is.”

Michigan State, the No. 1 seed in the West, withstood a late rally to beat Saint Louis University 65-61.

While No. 15 seeds Norfolk State and Lehigh University had their National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament runs end with losses yesterday, Ohio extended its most successful season since 1964 with a 62-56 win over South Florida. The Mid-American Conference-champion Bobcats are the fifth team to make the NCAA tournament’s final 16 as a No. 13 seed and first since Bradley five years ago.

Ohio (28-7) has set a school-record for wins and advances to face North Carolina (31-5) in St. Louis. Second-seeded Kansas will face No. 11 North Carolina State in the other Midwest Regional semifinal after victories yesterday.

Kansas erased a 10-point second-half deficit in a 63-60 victory against 10th-seeded Purdue, while North Carolina State held off No. 3 Georgetown University 66-63.

Top Seeds Advance

With yesterday’s wins by North Carolina and Michigan State, the four regional No. 1 seeds have made the round of 16 for the first time since 2009. Michigan State advances to face fourth-seeded Louisville in Phoenix, while No. 3 Marquette and No. 7 Florida meet in the other West Regional semifinal.

Florida rolled to an 84-50 rout yesterday of 15th-seeded Norfolk State, which had upset No. 2 seed Missouri in its tournament opener. Fellow No. 15 seed Lehigh was beaten 70-58 by 10th-seeded Xavier University yesterday.

Xavier, one of four Ohio schools in the final 16, will meet No. 3 seed Baylor in the South Regional semifinals in Atlanta, where top-seeded Kentucky faces No. 4 Indiana.

Cincinnati, the sixth seed in the East Regional, claimed the final spot in the round of 16 last night with a 62-56 win over No. 3 Florida State. Cincinnati will face No. 2 Ohio State in Boston, while top-seeded Syracuse plays No. 4 Wisconsin.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, the Tar Heels opened an eight-point halftime lead against eighth-seeded Creighton and extended their advantage to as many as 19 points during the second half.

Marshall’s Injury

Marshall had 18 points and 11 assists, yet fractured the scaphoid bone in his right wrist late in the game when he landed hard on the floor after being fouled on a layup attempt. Marshall’s status for the rest of the tournament isn’t known.

“We’ll speak to the hand specialist with Kendall and his family and we’ll see what happens after that,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams told reporters.

Michigan State (29-7) led by as many as 11 points in the second half before Saint Louis pulled within 53-51 with 3:18 left. Keith Appling scored 19 points to lead the Spartans, including four free throws in the final minute to held seal the victory, while Draymond Green added 16.

Kansas trailed Purdue 60-59 with less than a minute left when Elijah Johnson grabbed a loose ball and hit a go-ahead layup for the Jayhawks with 23 seconds left. Johnson finished with 18 points, including a 3-pointer that gave Kansas (29-6) its first lead with 3:04 remaining.

Kansas Survives

The Jayhawks withstood a 26-point effort by Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, preventing the Boilermakers from reaching the final 16 for the third time in four years.

Norfolk State was eliminated by Florida after falling behind 47-19 at halftime. The Gators went on a 25-0 scoring run during the first half in advancing to the round of 16 for the fourth time in seven years.

Lehigh, coming off its opening-game win against second-seeded Duke, led Xavier 35-20 before the Musketeers went on a 27-5 scoring run that spanned halftime. Xavier joins Ohio and North Carolina State as one of three schools seeded 10th or worse to reach the final 16.

“Whether you have your ups and downs during the middle of the year, you want to be playing as well as you possibly can play down the stretch,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “I’m just proud of this group to come together, but we have got more work to do and more basketball to play.”

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