The College of North Carolina’s males’s basketball crew spent a part of December being crushed by Kentucky. January introduced humiliations at Miami and Wake Forest. February included being embarrassed on its house court docket by Duke and Pittsburgh and requiring extra time to beat a woeful Syracuse.
Then got here March. The Tar Heels went over to Duke and spoiled Mike Krzyzewski’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5. Then, in extra time on Saturday in Fort Value, they upset Baylor, the No. 1 seed within the East area and the reigning nationwide champion, to advance to the spherical of 16 within the N.C.A.A. match.
Every signature victory is of the stripe that may redeem any misbegotten season. However each? As Roy Williams, who retired as North Carolina’s coach final yr however was within the stands on Saturday, may say: “Daggum.”
The outline may additionally aptly describe a lot of the remainder of the motion Saturday within the match. St. Peter’s — sure, the Fifteenth-seeded Peacocks — superior to the spherical of 16 with a victory over No. 7 seed Murray State, and the sector’s prime total seed, Gonzaga, fought more durable than anticipated to get previous No. 9 seed Memphis.
The eighth-seeded Tar Heels, who blew a 25-point lead with lower than 11 minutes remaining in regulation earlier than recovering, will meet U.C.L.A. on Friday in Philadelphia.
They — and some other crew remaining on this yr’s males’s match — is perhaps hard-pressed, although, to creator a higher work of suspense than their 93-86 downing of Baylor, the primary No. 1 seed to lose this yr.
Sure, Baylor received the tipoff, and with Kendall Brown’s dunk off a quick break, constructed a 4-0 lead in all of 68 seconds. Then U.N.C. seized it and didn’t even permit the sport to be tied till there have been 15.8 seconds remaining and Baylor had improbably erased a efficiency by the Tar Heels that had appeared extra prone to wind up within the document books than in extra time.
Freshman Dontrez Types opened extra time with a 3-pointer and U.N.C. managed — this time — to carry on.
“It was just something,” mentioned Armando Bacot, one among North Carolina’s star gamers. “It was stressful, for sure.”
Within the first half — after which the Tar Heels led by 13 — Baylor struggled mightily behind the arc and its turnovers fueled Carolina’s rise and accounted for 15 of the Tar Heels’ 42 factors earlier than the intermission.
So did R.J. Davis, a sophomore from White Plains, N.Y., who scored 30 factors to guide U.N.C. by day’s finish.
The chaos of Saturday’s sport was, in lots of respects, a becoming mark in North Carolina’s topsy-turvy debut marketing campaign beneath Hubert Davis, who succeeded Williams.
The Tar Heels began to rise after the 9-point loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 16 and have misplaced solely as soon as since, to Virginia Tech within the Atlantic Coast Convention match. Krzyzewski marveled over them this month, as soon as his personal crew, then ranked fourth within the nation, was accomplished in by gamers like Bacot, a 6-foot-10 junior who collects rebounds with the zeal of an Inside Income Service agent, and Brady Manek, who transferred from Oklahoma and got here into Saturday’s sport main North Carolina in 3-pointers.
“We knew the potential of this team coming into this season, and we just wanted to turn it around,” R.J. Davis mentioned on Friday. “We knew after the loss to Pitt, that wasn’t the way we wanted to play. So from that point on, I think we just turned it around and started to compete. And everyone bought into their roles and that’s kind of what we’ve been buying into.”
Helped alongside by a flagrant foul, Baylor bought round to purchasing into the majesty of being a No. 1 seed. There may be solely a lot a crew can do, although, on a day when it trailed by 25.
Waco-based Baylor, at the very least, averted the overlapping indignities of a protracted journey house after a depressing loss, and, due to a victory over Norfolk State on Thursday, the ignominy of being the earliest exiting departing champion in match historical past.
Dive Deeper Into the N.C.A.A. Tournaments
Little or no else went fairly because the Bears hoped.
Baylor couldn’t handle a basket for a stretch of near 4 minutes within the second half. U.N.C. took that interlude and scored 13, constructing a lead of 24.
A lot of that got here from Manek, whose 9 factors within the first half got here to really feel small by the top of the second, when he had 17. It’s just about sure that he would have completed with greater than 26 factors, however he was ejected with simply greater than 10 minutes to play after a flagrant foul.
His dismissal proved the catalyst for the type of Baylor onslaught that, lower than two hours earlier, would have appeared like a surefire route for them to Philadelphia.
One shot after one other, one alternative after one other exploited, the Bears seemed just like the crew most anticipated to swagger via Dickies Area and advance.
“We knew that as a team we weren’t going to give up, and we decided to apply pressure a lot more and be assertive out there,” mentioned Adam Flagler, a Baylor guard. “So once we got into those diamonds and traps, we were able to get some stops and get some easy looks, and therefore got the run going.”
Baylor’s late success in urgent North Carolina, Hubert Davis mentioned, had two penalties: It pressured the Tar Heels to hurry up and led to turnovers.
“They did not want to go home,” he mentioned of Baylor.
Ultimately, with lower than 16 seconds left, the Bears tied the sport at 80, the place the rating would keep till extra time.
The three-pointer by Types to start extra time let U.N.C. regain management. Bacot made a free throw. Baylor successfully hung round till 78 ticks remained, with the Tar Heels up by 6 after a flurry of free throws and layups from each groups.
Then, although, time ebbed additional, and the rating didn’t change a lot, with Baylor, which earned a share of the Massive 12 Convention’s regular-season title, squandering probabilities that might have drawn it nearer to salvaging a day and a season.
“At the end of the day, it’s hard making shots in that second game, and both of us don’t have deep benches and usually the numbers will probably back that up,” mentioned Scott Drew, Baylor’s coach. “But they had two guys that came out of the gate shooting it well.”
Drew mentioned he thought his crew had displayed “the heart of a champion” by staging the comeback it did.
However North Carolina, a crew possibly to neglect not way back, grew to become this system to play on in March.
Gonzaga, down by 10 at halftime, comes again in opposition to Memphis.
High-ranked Gonzaga survived a scare late Saturday night time, rallying from a double-digit deficit after which holding off a fierce Memphis crew to stay alive within the N.C.A.A. males’s basketball match with an 82-78 victory within the second spherical.
Drew Timme got here alive within the second half to spark Gonzaga’s comeback, ending with 25 factors, 14 rebounds and 4 assists, whereas level guard Andrew Nembhard added 23 factors, together with 4 free throws within the last minute.
Even after Gonzaga surged to a 76-69 lead, seemingly taking management, the Tigers steadied themselves.
Jalen Duren threw down a dunk, and after Timme left a jumper quick, DeAndre Williams hit a jumper within the lane to attract Memphis inside 76-73. Rasir Bolton made a pair of free throws to spice up Gonzaga’s result in 5 with 42 seconds left.
Lester Quinones answered with a fast 3-pointer and Memphis fouled Nembhard, who sank each free throws — a rarity on an evening when the Zags have been uncharacteristically shaky on the line, making simply 13 of 24 free throws.
Gonzaga strikes on to play fourth-seeded Arkansas in a West regional semifinal in San Francisco on Thursday. It’s the seventh consecutive season the Zags have reached the match’s second weekend.
The Zags, the highest total seed, have hardly seemed the half via two rounds.
They discovered themselves trailing Sixteenth-seeded Georgia State by 54-52 with 13 minutes left of their first-round sport earlier than hitting the Panthers with a late blitz to win comfortably. They seemed out of types on Saturday, too, getting beat in transition and struggling to get the ball within the paint in opposition to the lengthy, athletic Tigers.
When Alex Lomax bolted the size of the court docket and dished to Josh Minott, who sank a floater on the buzzer, Memphis ran off the court docket at halftime with a 41-31 lead.
The Zags returned and rectified their inside scoring vacuum the identical manner they’d on Thursday — be feeding Timme the ball. He scored 21 factors within the second half, main the cost again. And when Chet Holmgren sank a jumper with 12:53 left, Gonzaga had drawn even at 51.
The shock run of St. Peter’s will head to the match’s second weekend.
Murray State’s Trae Hannibal was breaking away for a dunk. St. Peter’s ahead KC Ndefo raced downcourt behind him, leapt for a clear block, then sprawled out right into a crowd of Murray State cheerleaders seated beneath the basket.
These Fifteenth-seeded Peacocks can fly higher than you suppose. All the way in which to the spherical of 16 within the N.C.A.A. match.
The hustle play by Ndefo, a 6-foot-7, 195-pound ahead, confirmed the defensive dedication that has anchored this crew, which prolonged its March run with a 70-60 victory over No. 7 seed Murray State in Indianapolis.
“I’m just happy for these guys, I’m kind of soaking it in right now,” Shaheen Holloway, the St. Peter’s coach, mentioned in a tv interview. “It’s an amazing vibe.”
The win for St. Peter’s followed a stunning upset of No. 2 seed Kentucky, and it got here in opposition to one other faculty from the state of Kentucky.
Ndefo was sensible for the Peacocks (21-11) with 17 factors, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks and three assists. Junior guard Doug Edert, whose mustache impressed its personal Twitter account, added 13 factors, together with an enormous 3-pointer that prolonged St. Peter’s result in 5 factors within the last minutes.
Murray State, which outlasted San Francisco in extra time within the first spherical for its twenty first straight win, had not misplaced since Dec. 22 at Auburn.
The Peacocks are simply the third No. 15 seed to achieve the final 16 after Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral Roberts in 2021. They are going to meet the winner of Sunday’s sport between No. 3 Purdue and No. 6 Texas on Friday at Wells Fargo Middle in Philadelphia, the place they’re certain to attract an enormous native crowd.
They’re the primary New Jersey faculty since Seton Corridor in 2000 to advance that far. The Peacocks had by no means received an N.C.A.A. match sport earlier than slaying Kentucky, which has received eight nationwide championships.
St. Peter’s — a tiny Jesuit school of some 2,300 students nestled in the heart of Jersey City, two miles west of New York Metropolis — has now received 9 straight video games and 10 of its final 11. On campus, college students watched the sport on an enormous display from an area nicknamed Run Child Run. Members of the college’s spirit squad took a 10-hour bus trip to get to the sport in Indianapolis so they might cheer on the crew in individual.
KJ Williams and Tevin Brown, Murray State’s two stars, shot a mixed 7 of 26 in opposition to the stingy St. Peter’s protection. After holding Kentucky to 43 % taking pictures, the Peacocks restricted the Racers to 35 %. The Racers have now had 5 probabilities to achieve the ultimate 16, and have been unable to get there.
Michigan discovered sufficient magic in time to beat Tennessee.
Put aside all the messes of this Michigan season — the ugly clash at Wisconsin and the suspensions that adopted, the stinging losses, the short exit from the Massive Ten Convention match — as a result of the Wolverines are all of the sudden profitable when it counts.
Michigan, a No. 11 seed within the South area, mounted a late surge in Indianapolis on Saturday to topple third-seeded Tennessee, 76-68.
Tennessee, which had ridden a well-timed profitable streak via the Southeastern Convention match, by no means commanded the sport in the way in which it wished. Its lead by no means exceeded 6 factors, and it missed 16 of 18 3-point tries. Michigan, which is able to subsequent play in San Antonio, was hardly setting information behind the arc, the place it went 6 for 16, however these factors proved essential. So did free throws: Eight of Michigan’s last 10 factors got here from the road.
Hunter Dickinson, Michigan’s beginning middle, had 27 factors and 11 rebounds to guide the Wolverines. Eli Brooks added one other 23 factors for Michigan in a sport with a dozen lead adjustments.
Michigan confirmed vulnerabilities, although, turning over the ball 15 instances, greater than twice as usually because the Volunteers, and fueling 20 Tennessee factors.
Kansas, one other No. 1, bought via a scare from Creighton.
Baylor might need misplaced, however the Massive 12 Convention is simply glad it averted two debacles: Kansas, a league stalwart and one other of the match’s No. 1 seeds, fended off Creighton, 79-72.
However the Jayhawks, whose roster boasts seven seniors and who led by as many as 9 factors on Saturday, generally appeared to wheeze to Chicago, the place they’ll play subsequent. Trey Alexander, a Creighton freshman, hit a protracted 3-pointer over Remy Martin to depart his crew trailing by simply 3. KeyShawn Feazell scored on a layup off a dribble penetration move from Alex O’Connell to trim the deficit a bit extra, to 73-72.
An errant move by Alexander gave Ochai Agbaji, the Massive 12 participant of the yr who would end on Saturday with 15 factors and eight rebounds, an opportunity to steal and rating and rebuild the Kansas result in 3.
Well timed protection saved Creighton, which was enjoying with out its personal defensive anchor after an harm on Thursday, from scoring once more, whereas Kansas used 4 free throws to push its tally to 79.
Kansas will face Windfall within the spherical of 16.
U.C.L.A.’s swarming protection wears down St. Mary’s.
Mick Cronin, the U.C.L.A. coach, got here to Westwood decided to give attention to protection. And although Jaime Jaquez Jr., Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard and Tyger Campbell can dazzle offensively, the Bruins are at their finest when they’re snarling and clawing with out the ball.
The Bruins’ protection fueled their memorable run from the First 4 to the Closing 4 final yr, and it moved them inside two wins of the identical vacation spot Saturday as they rolled St. Mary’s, 72-56.
St. Mary’s swished seven of its first 10 subject purpose makes an attempt and constructed a 7-point lead. Then, after the U.C.L.A. huddle through the under-12:00 timeout within the first half, the sport turned abruptly — absolutely not by coincidence.
The Bruins clamped down, holding the Gaels to three for 16 taking pictures throughout the remainder of the half, and prolonged that defensive effort via the remainder of the sport. Because the second half deepened, the fixed stress appeared to put on on St. Mary’s. The Gaels at instances appeared spent.
The largest fear for U.C.L.A. got here with 6:58 remaining when Jaquez, who has battled sprained ankles prior to now, turned his proper ankle whereas battling for a rebound.
He didn’t play the remainder of the sport, and his availability will turn out to be a significant story line because the Bruins transfer on to play North Carolina in Philadelphia on Friday. It will likely be U.C.L.A.’s fifth Candy 16 look prior to now 9 years. The matchup, that includes two colleges which have mixed for 17 nationwide titles, undoubtedly might be one of many marquee video games of the weekend.
Having performed in Gonzaga’s shadow for years within the West Coast Convention, the Gaels (26-8) served discover that they may very well be a difficult opponent for U.C.L.A. by completely destroying Indiana in a first-round sport Thursday night time. Buoyed by a 34-5 run to finish the primary half, they cruised to a straightforward 82-53 win.
However Indiana, and few others, play the type of rugged protection that Cronin calls for. U.C.L.A. (27-7) is now 22-0 this season when holding opponents beneath 66 factors.