Saturday’s March Madness: No. 1 Seed Kansas Falls, Princeton Advances

Saturday’s March Madness: No. 1 Seed Kansas Falls, Princeton Advances

Kansas, the reigning national champion, is out of the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament.

Playing without their head coach, Bill Self, for a second straight game, the top-seeded Jayhawks were stunned by No. 8 seed Arkansas, 72-71, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Kansas was bidding to become first the repeat men’s champion since Florida won the tournament in 2006 and 2007. Instead, the Razorbacks advanced to the round of 16 in Las Vegas against the winner of Sunday’s game between Connecticut and St. Mary’s in Albany, N.Y. Arkansas (22-13) finished tied for ninth in the Southeastern Conference, while Kansas (28-8) was the Big 12 regular-season champion.


The Jayhawks became the second No. 1 seed to get bounced from the tournament in less than 24 hours, after No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson toppled No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday night. Six consecutive defending champions have now been eliminated before the round of 16.

Just two No. 1 seeds remained after the loss: Alabama in the South and Houston in the West. Both teams were playing Saturday night.

The last time only two No. 1 seeds made the round of 16 was in 2018; it also happened in 2004, 2000 and 1981.

After the upset, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman climbed on a table and pulled off his shirt to celebrate in front of the Razorback fans.

“That’s just an unbelievable win for our program,” Musselman said in a television interview. “I keep telling people that we’re getting better. Not many teams can get better this time of year. I’ve never been prouder of a team like tonight.”


The game came down to the wire, and Arkansas took a 67-65 lead with 47 seconds left on a putback layup by Kamani Johnson. Jalen Wilson of Kansas made two free throws to tie it at 67, but then his teammate Kevin McCullar Jr. fouled out on the other end.

Ricky Council IV then made three of four free throws to push Arkansas ahead for good, following a back-and-forth trade of free throws and tightly contested shots. Council finished with 11 of the last 15 points for Arkansas, including 7 of the last 9.

Kansas, which led by 8 points at halftime, lost for the first time this season after leading at the break.

Davonte Davis, who scored 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half for the Razorbacks, fouled out with 1:56 remaining. He was emotional after the win.

“I’m glad we came out with the win,” he said as he teared up during a television interview. “We put in the work. This team has struggled, and we figured it out.”


Musselman said of Davis: “I love this kid so much, I feel like he’s my son.”

“I love you too, Coach,” Davis replied.

Self, 60, missed the Big 12 tournament after undergoing a heart procedure last week after he complained of chest pains. The Hall of Fame coach was released Sunday from a hospital, where he was recovering from a procedure to treat blocked arteries in his heart. He had been with the team during its time in Des Moines and was still recovering, the school announced, with hopes that he might coach later in the tournament.

“He’s been at our last three practices, so his energy’s a lot better and he’s feeling a lot better,” assistant coach Norm Roberts, who coached the team on an interim basis, told CBS before the game.

Kansas point guard Dajuan Harris Jr. suffered a sprained ankle in the first half when he landed awkwardly, but started the second half and finished with 12 points.


Wilson, the Big 12 player of the year, led Kansas with 20 points. — Adam Zagoria

SACRAMENTO — There was neither a letdown nor a misstep by the red-hot Princeton Tigers as they blew past Missouri to advance to their first men’s round-of-16 appearance in more than a half-century.

Two days after their astonishing takedown of second-seeded Arizona, Princeton looked stronger yet in dispatching Missouri, 78-63, in Saturday game here. In a Tigers vs. Tigers matchup, it was not a fluke that No. 15 seed Princeton eliminated No. 7 seed Missouri. Princeton started strong, withstood several Missouri challenges and played with steely confidence and persistent poise the entire way.

Wearing bow-tie patches on their uniforms to honor the late Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril, whose spirit Princeton still carries, the Tigers opened a 14-point lead at one point in the first half and continually blunted Missouri’s full-court pressure.

Princeton shot better than it did against Arizona, easily matching its total number of 3-pointer against the Wildcats (four) in the first half. When Trey Martini swished Princeton’s fourth 3-pointer, it extended the Tigers’ lead to 24-14 and gave them a boost of early confidence.


Then, when Missouri closed midway through the second half, the game turned into the Blake Peters show for Princeton. The sophomore guard, who played just two minutes in the first half, came off the bench to swish four 3-pointers by the 5:09 mark of the second half, to help Princeton push its lead to 62-45.

Where Princeton had to sweat until the final horn 48 hours earlier against heavily favored Arizona, the final few minutes of this game were played before a raucous celebration from its cheering section in Golden 1 Arena.

The Tigers, who now have won six in a row and have not lost since Feb. 18, are moving on to their first round-of-16 appearance since 1967. — Scott Miller

STORRS, Conn. — If there was any doubt that the University of Connecticut was on stable footing heading into this year’s women’s N.C.A.A. tournament, its 95-52 defeat over the Vermont on Saturday took care of those concerns.


After a tumultuous and injury-filled regular season, the second-seeded Huskies lived up to their dominant reputation on their home court, outscoring and outrunning the No. 15-seeded Catamounts at nearly every turn. Aaliyah Edwards, the 6-foot-3 junior forward, led the Huskies with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

“We didn’t have an answer for her,” Vermont Coach Alisa Kresge said of Edwards. “She’s just a worker, she works so hard, she never gives up. She’s really talented, and that was quite a mismatch for us.”

UConn forward Dorka Juhasz recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Azzi Fudd made her first start since Dec. 4 after repeat knee injuries over the year (she kept a brace and knee sleeve on for good measure), while teammate Paige Bueckers, the junior forward who is out for the season with her own knee injury, cheered from the sidelines.

All 10 of UConn’s players scored, in one of the highest-scoring games of the tournament so far. The Huskies scored 53 points in the first half and kept the Catamounts to 20 points, forcing Vermont to take quick shots that failed to land while clearing the paint on offensive drives.

Vermont was led by sophomore guard Catherine Gilwee, with 14 points and 5 assists. The Catamounts entered the tournament with a 25-6 record, riding a 17-game winning streak; they beat Albany in the America East championship a week ago to reach the N.C.A.A. tournament for the first time since 2010.


UConn will face the winner of the Baylor-Alabama game on Monday. — Remy Tumin

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When Houston’s players surmised that Legacy Arena would be filled 90 percent on Saturday night with fans of Auburn, whose campus lies just 110 miles to the southeast, the Cougars Coach Kelvin Sampson laughed.

“Ninety percent? I’m hoping 90” percent, he said — and not more.

Houston is trying to become the first men’s team in more than a decade to play in a Final Four in its hometown, but even though the Cougars have a No. 1 seed, their path home for a championship is hardly a stroll along a primrose path.

After the Cougars struggled to stave off 16th-seeded Northern Kentucky in the first round, they had to rally from a 10-point halftime deficit on Saturday night to defeat ninth-seeded Auburn, 81-64, in a decidedly hostile neutral-court environment.


The victory ensured that at least one top seed would advance to the second weekend of the N.C.A.A. tournament, after Purdue was shocked by Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday night and Kansas was upset by Arkansas on Saturday. Alabama, the other top seed, is playing Maryland on Saturday night. Never have fewer than two top seeds failed to reach the men’s round of 16.

Houston seemed in grave danger after a first half in which Auburn, urged on behind a rousing partisan crowd, carved up what had been billed as one of the nation’s top defenses, racing out to a 41-31 lead.

But after halftime, the Cougars ratcheted up their defensive pressure. They made sure that if Auburn got to the basket, it was going to have bumps and bruises to show for it, and that the Tigers would have to win the game at the free-throw line.

It was there that the game turned. The Tigers, a reasonably proficient free-throw shooting team, at 70 percent, failed miserably, clanking shot after shot off the rim.

Auburn managed only one field goal — a breakaway layup by Wendell Green Jr. — in a nearly 15-minute stretch, by which time Houston was comfortably ahead, 70-57. The Tigers missed 11 consecutive shots at one point, and weren’t much better from the free-throw line, missing 10 of 13 free throws after Johni Broome had given them a 50-48 lead by making one.


That Houston lost forward J’Wan Roberts to fouls, and had three other starters finish with four fouls, turned out to be merely a footnote. Auburn made just 4 of 24 shots in the second half and missed all five of its 3-point attempts. — Billy Witz


Duke’s loss to Tennessee in the men’s round of 32 on Saturday was by no means a stirring surprise, in the way that losses by Purdue, Virginia and Arizona shook up the tournament.

But in bracket competitions online, plenty of people felt the sting anyway, showing how popular Duke remains even in a year of somewhat lowered expectations.

Duke, a No. 5 seed, was among the most popular picks to win a championship in bracket contests hosted by ESPN and Yahoo, with more support than all the No. 4 seeds, including Tennessee, and all but one No. 3, the frequent tournament powerhouse Gonzaga.

The popularity of the Blue Devils came even as modelers, including the KenPom and Sagarin ratings, signaled more modest expectations, prompting a wide range of predictions — with plenty of fans believing that Duke could have an early exit, along with those who expected a deep run.


On Saturday against Tennessee, the Volunteers pulled away early in the second half, and the classic, almost expected push by the Blue Devils never materialized. The No. 5 seed this year was Duke’s lowest in the field since being slated as a No. 6 in 2007; the Blue Devils will miss the regional round of the tournament after a Final Four run a year ago in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last season.

Duke made the N.C.A.A. tournament for 26 straight years until 2021, when it was in danger of missing out on the March Madness festivities, then canceled its season during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament because of a player’s positive coronavirus test. — Oskar Garcia

VILLANOVA, Pa. — When Sha Carter of Florida Gulf Coast lined up against the taller Bella Murekatete of Washington State for the opening tip, it seemed like the first moment of a mismatch. Carter didn’t attempt to corral the ball, and the Cougars raced to a lead.

Yet that impression flipped in a hurry, as the smaller Florida Gulf Coast team seized control midway through the first quarter and delivered a 74-63 win that showed why it was a popular pick to advance — even among oddsmakers — despite being a No. 12 seed against a No. 5.

Tishara Morehouse, the leading scorer this season for the Eagles entering the game, proved too quick for Washington State’s defenders. She used spin moves and crossovers for scores, tallying 16 points and helping set up Carter to score at will. Carter led the game with 24 points.


The loss was a disappointing finish to a remarkable season for Washington State, which had won four straight games coming into the tournament to capture the championship in the difficult Pac-12 Conference, after finishing seventh in the regular season.

It was the first Pac-12 tournament title for the Cougars. But when the brackets came out, Florida Gulf Coast immediately stood out as a difficult matchup.

“They’re always under-seeded,” Washington State Coach Kamie Ethridge said Friday as her team prepared for the game.

Florida Gulf Coast has not lost since late January (an overtime defeat to Liberty), and extended its winning streak to 15 games with the victory.

The Eagles weren’t alone as a winning No. 12 seed on Saturday: Toledo took down fifth-seeded Iowa State, 80-73, and will move on to face No. 4 seed Tennessee. Florida Gulf Coast will play fourth-seeded Villanova on Monday. — Kris Rhim


There is an implicit but unspoken deal between underdogs and the month of March: Most dreams come with rapid expiration dates. And two days after the biggest victory in school history, No. 13 seed Furman’s sell-by date arrived with a 75-52 rout at the hands of fifth-seeded San Diego State in the men’s N.C.A.A. tournament.

Where the Paladins were able to exploit Virginia’s weaknesses in a 68-67 upset on Thursday, they were overwhelmed by the Aztecs in almost every aspect of Saturday’s game. Known for its strong defense, San Diego State held Furman, which had averaged 81.7 points this season before the loss, to its lowest single-game total of 2022-23.

Furman shot just 32 percent from the field (while the Aztecs hit 50 percent of their shots) and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. For the season, Furman had shot 48 percent overall and 34 percent from 3-point territory.

Furman never led after the midpoint of the first half, and Jalen Slawson, the Southern Conference player of the year, was in foul trouble for much of the second half before fouling out with only 8 points.

“They kept us from driving, kept the ball out of the paint, kept a really strong floor and played really hard,” Slawson said.


It was a complete and impressive performance by the Aztecs, who move on to their first round-of-16 appearance since 2014, where they will play the winner of Alabama and Maryland on Friday.

The Paladins, meanwhile, will take home indelible memories and stories they will tell friends and families for the rest of their lives.

“It’s an unbelievable story,” Furman Coach Bob Richey said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, at a time where I’m extremely disappointed that we didn’t advance. But it’s really hard to not pull the lens back a little bit and still see what that group was able to accomplish.

“For that, I’ll be forever grateful.” — Scott Miller

In a stunning reversal, Baylor turned an 18-point deficit on Saturday into a bid for the women’s Sweet 16.


No. 10 seed Alabama kept the seventh-seeded Bears to just 4 points in the first quarter. But as Baylor’s 3-pointers started rolling in, the tide began to shift, and the team outscored Alabama in the three remaining quarters and won the game, 78-74.

The comeback was tied for the third-largest in women’s N.C.A.A. tournament history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Guard Ja’Mee Asberry led Baylor with 26 points, 21 of which came on 3-pointers.

“We were really bad in the first quarter and really good after that — they came out punching,” Baylor Coach Nicki Collen said after the game.

Alabama guard Brittany Davis led the Crimson Tide with 33 points, including seven 3-pointers. Davis said Alabama started to get “tired” and “lazy” in the second half of the game; the team committed 19 total turnovers, allowing Baylor to slip through its early grip.


“You can’t quit being aggressive this time of year,” Alabama Coach Kristy Curry said.

Baylor will face the second-seeded Connecticut on Monday. — Remy Tumin

Indiana’s rout of Tennessee Tech put all four No. 1s in the N.C.A.A. women’s tournament into the second round, and perhaps highlighted a reality that has shifted in recent years:

Though a 16-over-1 March Madness upset is exceedingly rare, it’s probably even harder to pull off in the women’s tournament right now than in the men’s.

One night after the Fairleigh Dickinson men delivered the stunner of these festivities over No. 1 seed Purdue, the Indiana women romped past Tennessee Tech by 30 points, 77-47, joining fellow No. 1s South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Stanford in the second round. All four of those teams, playing with home-court advantage, won with ease to start their tournament run, with Virginia Tech winning by the tightest margin at 25 points over Chattanooga.


On Saturday, the Hoosiers pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring Tennessee Tech 21-9 in the period, and shot a breezy 58 percent for the game as their lead grew and grew. Sydney Parrish led with 19 points.

The men’s tournament had gone without a No. 16 defeating a No. 1 before 2018, but it has now happened twice in the past five tournaments. A similar upset has only occurred once in the women’s tournament since it expanded to 64 teams, when No. 16 seed Harvard beat top-seeded Stanford in 1998.

In that game, Harvard came in feeling like it deserved a higher seed, while Stanford lost two key players, Vanessa Nygaard and Kristin Folkl, to severe knee injuries in the week leading up to the game.

To beat a No. 1 women’s team playing at home, or even a No. 2 — which has never lost to a No. 15 — it may take a similar series of circumstances. — Oskar Garcia

BATON ROUGE, La. — It’s been a busy weekend for basketball mom Angel Reese.


With two children playing in the N.C.A.A. tournaments, daughter Angel for the third-seeded Louisiana State women and son Julian for the eighth-seeded Maryland men, she’s traveling to try to see as much basketball as she can.

After flying to Louisiana on Thursday, Reece watched from her hotel room as Julian scored a team-high 17 points in the Terrapins’ narrow win over West Virginia.

The next day, she saw Angel compile 34 points and 15 rebounds at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in L.S.U.’s demolition of Hawaii.

She had planned to hit the road at 10 a.m. Central time on Saturday to head to Birmingham, Ala., to see Julian play at night against top-seeded Alabama. Then, it will be back to Baton Rouge for L.S.U.’s second-round game on Sunday against Michigan.

“I’m very proud,” Reese said in an interview after Friday’s L.S.U. game. “It’s exciting, but it’s very stressful. I will admit, it’s very stressful, especially when you have close games like the one that Maryland had yesterday against West Virginia.”


Both players play crucial roles on their teams. Julian is one of Maryland’s four double-figure scorers and its leading rebounder, while Angel is a first-team all-American. Their mother was an accomplished college player herself, ranking second in Division I in rebounds per game in 1991-92 with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

There are other family ties in the tournament. The Hawaii women’s team had two sisters, Lily Wahinekapu and Jovi Lefotu. The Iowa men’s team featured Fran McCaffery coaching sons Connor and Patrick. And the Prosper family also has a player in each tournament, with Cassandre coming off the bench for the Notre Dame women and Olivier-Maxence averaging 12.4 points per game for the Marquette men.

The Reeses hope the whirlwind lasts as long as possible.

“This is an enjoyable moment for the Reese family,” the younger Angel said after Friday’s game. — Evan Easterling

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