Regional Top Seeds Duke, Wisconsin Win at NCAA TournamentErik Matuszewski and Mason Levinson
Regional top seeds Duke and Wisconsin advanced at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, where order was restored as the better seed won 15 of Friday’s 16 games.
Duke, the top team in the South regional, rolled to an 85-56 victory against Robert Morris, while West No. 1 seed Wisconsin beat Coastal Carolina 86-72. The No. 1 seeds in the four regionals won by an average of 26.8 points and are 124-0 against 16th seeds since the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s tournament expanded in 1985.
There were four upsets on the first full day of the tournament on Thursday, including wins by a pair of 14th seeds: Georgia State and Alabama-Birmingham.
On Friday, the first 15 games were won by the team with the better seeding, including victories by Gonzaga, Kansas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Louisville. The final game of the day resulted in the lone upset, as Dayton, the No. 11 seed in the East region, defeated sixth-seeded Providence 66-53.
It marked just the second time that teams with the better seeding had a 15-1 record in one day at the NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The only other time that happened was in 2000.
At least one No. 5 seed had lost its opening game to a 12th seed in each of the past seven years. That streak came to an end as West Virginia and Northern Iowa advanced with wins on Friday, a day after Arkansas and Utah made the round of 32.
West Virginia eked out a 68-62 Midwest region win against Buffalo, blowing a 10-point halftime lead before scoring the final six points of the game. The Mountaineers advanced to face No. 4 Maryland, which overcame Valparaiso 65-62.
The Northern Iowa Panthers, in the tournament for the first time in five years, beat Wyoming 71-54 in an East region game. They’ll next take on fourth-seeded Louisville, which hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left to pull out a 57-55 win against a University of California-Irvine team in the tournament for the first time in school history.
“We survived and move on,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said in a televised interview.
Duke became the third school with 100 NCAA tournament victories, joining Kentucky and North Carolina. Eighth-seeded San Diego State will be the next opponent for the Blue Devils after beating No. 9 St. John’s 76-64.
Wisconsin in the round of 32 will face Oregon. The eighth seed in the West, the Ducks topped No. 9 Oklahoma State 79-73.
The wins by San Diego State and Oregon mean all four No. 8 seeds made the final 32 for just the third time since the tournament field expanded. The last time all four eighth seeds won their opening games was in 2002.
Oklahoma, the third seed in the East, topped Albany 69-60 to make Lon Kruger the first coach to win NCAA tournament games with five different schools. The Sooners get Dayton next after the Flyers recorded Friday’s lone upset.
South region No. 2 seed Gonzaga fought off 15th-seeded North Dakota State 86-76 to improve to 33-2 on the season. The Bulldogs on Sunday will play seventh-seeded Iowa, which rolled to an 83-52 rout of No. 10 Davidson.
Virginia, the second seed in the East region, pulled away for a 79-67 win against No. 15 Belmont. The Cavaliers advanced to face No. 7 Michigan State, a 70-63 winner over Georgia.
Led by Duke and Virginia, schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference had a 6-0 record during the round of 64. The last league to do that was the Big 12 in 2009.
Kansas, seeded second in the Midwest region, topped New Mexico State 75-56 behind 17 points and nine rebounds from guard Frank Mason III. Up next for the Jayhawks is No. 7 Wichita State, which topped No. 10 Indiana 81-76.
It will be the first matchup between the two Kansas schools since 1993. Kansas coach Bill Self has said that adding Wichita State, which won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title, to his team’s non-conference schedule wasn’t in the best interest of his program.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re not the ‘blue blood,’ so to speak, that those teams are,” said Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, referring to schools like Kansas, Indiana and Kentucky, who the Shockers lost to in the second round of last year’s tournament. “But we generally play well against them, and if we play really well, we’ll have a chance to win.”