Gonzaga’s return in the second half ensured that two No. 1 seeds were not eliminated in the NCAA men’s tournament on Saturday.
Hours after Baylor returned to force overtime in an upset loss to North Carolina, the Bulldogs had to rally from a 10-point deficit against Memphis. Unlike the team that beat Gonzaga in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament title game, Gonzaga completed the comeback with an 82-78 run.
Wins by Gonzaga and Kansas on Saturday ensured it wouldn’t be the first day since 2004 where two No. 1 seeds lost on the same day in the second round. And if Arizona wins Sunday against TCU, at least three No. 1 seeds will advance to the Sweet 16 for the 17th straight tournament.
A Gonzaga loss would also have meant that both participants in the previous tournament’s title game failed to make it to the second weekend of the tournament. That doesn’t happen that often. The 2012 NCAA tournament is the last time any of the teams from the most recent title game did not make the Sweet 16 as UConn was eliminated in the first round and Butler failed to make it to the NCAA tournament.
Gonzaga will play Arkansas in the Sweet 16 while Kansas will face Providence. North Carolina will face UCLA.
Here’s what you need to know about the third day of the NCAA Men’s Tournament and the second day of the NCAA Women’s Tournament.
Rise of the mid-majors
It was another day for the mid-majors on the women’s side of March Madness. Two double-digit seeds defeated the Power Five teams and two more came close. There was so much chaos that a No. 11 seed and a No. 14 seed were minutes from meeting in the second round.
In the Bridgeport region, No. 11 Princeton led No. 6 Kentucky by nearly 150 seconds of action to advance to the second round. Kentucky was a favorite sleeper pick after their SEC tournament championship run, but couldn’t break through the Tigers’ top 10 defense.
In the Wichita region, No. 12 Belmont defeated No. 5 Oregon in a double-overtime thriller. It’s the second year Belmont has won in the first round as the 12th seed. They led 50-44 midway through the fourth and held off the Ducks multiple times. No. 11 Villanova defeated No. 6 BYU, 61-57, in the Wichita region earlier in the day and was the second Big East team to pull off a first-round upset.
Unsurprisingly, Wichita is the chalkiest region yet with four lower-seeded teams advancing to take on the top four seeds. The Spokane region also saw some madness on Saturday, though the higher-ranked teams ultimately won.
No. 11 Missouri State, which won its First Four game on Thursday, led by four in the quarter and held within two possessions of No. 6 Ohio State until the final 15 seconds. The Buckeyes, who captured a piece of the Big Ten regular season title, advanced, 63-56.
Hours later on the same court, LSU came within minutes of becoming the No. 3 seed in 112 attempts losing to the No. 14 seed. Jackson State led by 10 midway through the quarter but couldn’t hold on and LSU escaped, 83-77. It would have been the first tournament victory for a SWAC program.
— Cassandra Negley
Two double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16
St. Peter’s became the second No. 15 seed to reach the men’s Sweet 16 in the past two seasons with their victory over Murray State on Saturday night. The Peacocks are only the third No. 15 to advance to the Sweet 16 in NCAA men’s tournament history.
Hours earlier, Michigan advanced to the Sweet 16 as the No. 11 seed with a win over Tennessee. The win gave the Wolverines a fifth straight Sweet 16 appearance. That’s not even the longest active streak in men’s college basketball, though. Gonzaga advances to her seventh consecutive Sweet 16.
Will two top seeds win more than double figures on Sunday? Four double-digit seeds reached the Sweet 16 in 2021 as No. 15 Oral Roberts, No. 11 Syracuse, No. 11 UCLA and No. 12 Oregon State advanced beyond the opening weekend. If that number is to be matched in 2022, the pressure is on No. 11 Iowa State, No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 10 Miami for two of those three teams to win.
Kansas ties Kentucky for the most wins of all time
The race to become the winningest men’s basketball program in NCAA history is now tied.
Kansas tied Kentucky for atop the all-time wins list with 2,353 with its 79-72 victory over Creighton on Saturday. With Kentucky out of the tournament after a first-round loss to St. Peter’s, Kansas is in position to enter the 2022-23 season with a lead over the Wildcats in the all-time wins standings.
In case you were wondering, North Carolina is third behind KU and the UK, while Duke is fourth and Temple is fifth in the all-time wins rankings. The top four have over 2,200 wins and Kentucky entered the season with four more wins all-time than Kansas.
The win also earned Kansas coach Bill Self his 11th 30-win season as head coach. Only Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and former Kansas and North Carolina coach Roy Williams have more.
UConn crosses to another record
UConn, the No. 2 seed in the Bridgeport region, had little trouble with the No. 15 Mercer in an 83-38 victory and set another record as a result. The win was the Huskies’ 28th consecutive first-round victory to break a tie with Tennessee for the most consecutive first-round wins. Lady Vols’ streak extended from 1982-2008. UConn hasn’t lost in the first round since 1993, which was also its last straight losing streak.
The Huskies beefed up the defense after halftime and posted a 20-0 shutout in the third quarter. It is the third time since 2016, when the women’s game switched to the quarters, that a team has knocked out an opponent in a quarter. Stanford did it to Montana State on Friday night and South Carolina did it to Texas in the 2021 Elite Eight.
Paige Bueckers had 12 points (5-for-7), five assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes, her most since returning from knee surgery in December. Christyn Williams led with 13 points and Azzi Fudd had nine, all on a perfect 3-for-3 day from behind the arc. UConn (26-5) will face No. 7 UCF (26-3) in the second round in Storrs, Connecticut.
Olivia Miles of Notre Dame achieves a triple-double
Notre Dame freshman Olivia Miles became the first freshman in NCAA women’s tournament history to post a triple-double on Saturday night.
Miles had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as No. 5 Notre Dame beat No. 12 UMass, 89-78, in the Bridgeport region.
Miles had all but seven of Notre Dame’s assists and outrebounded each of his teammates by five or more as the Irish controlled the boards. That was his second triple-double of the season after posting 11 points and 13 rebounds and 13 assists against Valparaíso in December. He is averaging nearly 14 points per game and more than five rebounds and seven assists.
No. 4 seeds win in very different ways
A No. 4 seed was extremely convincing on Saturday in the men’s tournament. Another was the opposite of that.
No. 4 Providence easily advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 79-51 victory over No. 12 Richmond in the Midwest region. The Friars shot 52% from the field and nearly 55% from 3 as Richmond was 1-for-22 from deep.
Providence jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead and cruised in the second half over a Spiders team that played six players for a combined 197 of 200 minutes.
Arkansas, meanwhile, had its hands full with No. 12 New Mexico State in the West region. The Razorbacks cruised to a 53-48 victory thanks to some solid free throws. Arkansas sealed the game in the final minutes by going 22-for-25 from the field. That contrasted with the Hogs’ 28% shooting from the field and 19% shooting from behind the arc.
Razorbacks leading scorer JD Notae had 18 points and fouled out in the final minute. Four of his five fouls were for charges.