Kansas is the 6th straight men’s title holder to be eliminated early
It’s tough for a defending champion in the men’s NCAA tournament.
Arkansas’ 72-71 win over Kansas extended a remarkable streak for the reigning national title winner. The Jayhawks are now the sixth straight national title winner to be eliminated in the first weekend of the following year’s NCAA tournament.
The final defending champion to advance to the tournament’s second weekend is Duke in 2016. The Blue Devils were 4th seeded this season, beating No. 13 UNC Wilmington and No. 12 Yale before beating No. 1 Oregon lost Sweet 16. Since then, the tournament performances of the defending champions are as follows:
Villanova 2017: Lost in the second round to No. 8 Wisconsin as No. 1.
2018 North Carolina: Lost in the second round to No. 7 Texas A&M as the No. 2 seed.
Villanova 2019: Lost in the second round to No. 3 Purdue as a No. 6 seed.
2021 Virginia: Lost in the first round to No. 13 Ohio as a No. 4 seed.
Baylor 2022: Lost in the second round to No. 8 No. 1 North Carolina.
2023 Canada: Lost in the second round to No. 8 Arkansas as a No. 1 seed.
Kansas kept Arkansas at bay throughout the first half before the Razorbacks’ chaotic style began giving the Jayhawks real bouts. The foul-filled game contained 23 fouls as four players were eliminated and four others ended with four fouls.
The foul play made it fitting that the game was decided at the free throw line. Arkansas’ Ricky Council IV made five free throws in the last 24 seconds and made four straight after scoring an important offensive rebound from a missed free throw.
If Kansas went on a deep run at this year’s tournament, it would happen with a team hardly resembling the one that knocked down the Nets in 2022. Jalen Wilson averaged 20 points per game this season as Kansas’ top scorer after averaging 11 a season ago. With players like Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun in the NBA, freshman Gradey Dick and Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar played big roles, and big man KJ Adams went from five minutes a game a season ago to 27 a game this year .
The revamped team was really good. Kansas again won the regular-season Big 12 title, but showed some flaws at the track, which were exposed twice by Texas in eight days. A talented but underperforming Arkansas was also a poor matchup for the Jayhawks, as the Hogs were able to keep up well with Kansas throughout the court and pressured the Jayhawks in the second half.
Here’s what else you need to know to catch up on everything important that happened on Day 3 of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tournaments.
Princeton continues the run for number 15
Princeton became the third No. 15 in as many years to advance into the Sweet 16 with a 78-63 win over Missouri.
The Ivy League champion absolutely dominated Missouri on glass, passing the Tigers by 15. Princeton also made 12 3-pointers as it shot over Missouri’s zone defenses in the second half. A Missouri team that relies on ball losses and outside shots didn’t force Princeton to frantic possession and shot poorly from 3.
Four 15th-seeded players have made the Sweet 16 in NCAA men’s tournament history, and they’ve all made it in the past decade. Florida Gulf Coast was first in 2013 ahead of Oral Roberts in 2021 and St. Peter’s in 2022.
The Peacocks became the first No. 15 to make the Elite Eight when they defeated Purdue a season ago. And it’s not hard to see how Princeton could do the same if they continue to recover like they did against both Arizona and Missouri
Louisville avoids a third 12-on-5 excitement
Louisville narrowly escaped third place 5, which fell to 12th place in the women’s NCAA tournament.
The Cardinals defeated Drake 83-81 after a fourth quarter with 54 combined points. Louisville won the game after a skillful inbound play with 20 seconds left when Hailey Van Lith converted an and-1 to give the Cardinals a 4-point lead.
Van Lith scored 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field while Mykasa Robinson added 14.
Earlier in the day, the Florida Gulf Coast defeated Pac-12 tournament winner Washington State 74-63 when Sha Carter scored 24 points and tucked six rebounds. The Eagles’ excitement came just before Toledo defeated Iowa State 80-73. The Rockets pulled away from Iowa State in the second quarter and kept the Cyclones at bay in the second half thanks to some phenomenal free throw shots.
A day of big comebacks
Double-digit leads weren’t as safe as usual at Saturday’s NCAA women’s tournament.
No. 9 Miami came back from 17 points behind at halftime to beat No. 8 Oklahoma State 62-61. The Cowgirls had a shot at the buzzer to win after a five-second injury in Miami, but it bounced off the rim harmlessly.
Hours later in the Seattle Regional 3s, No. 7 Baylor erased an 18-point lead over Alabama in the second quarter to win 78-74.
Baylor trailed 22-4 at the end of the first quarter before cutting the lead to 11 at halftime. The Bears then dominated the fourth quarter, taking a 3:30 lead to catch a 3-pointer from Sarah Andrews. Alabama scored six straight points to retake the lead before Baylor scored 7 straight points in the final 53 seconds to seal the win.
Miami’s comeback was the fifth-biggest in women’s NCAA tournament history before Baylor’s comeback resulted in a tie in third place.
We can’t forget the state of Ohio either. The No. 3 Buckeyes led No. 14 James Madison by 35:19 in the second quarter with 4:01 to go before coming back in the second half and outplaying the Dukes by 30 points the rest of the way. Ohio State beat JMU 80-66 while Cotie McMahon had 18 points and Jacy Sheldon had 17.
UCLA stays away from Northwestern
The UCLA No. 2 held Northwestern’s upset attempt at bay in a 68-63 win over the Wildcats.
The Bruins shot 50% from the field as Northwestern never led after taking a 3-0 lead early in the game. Tyger Campbell was a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line and Jaime Jaquez scored 24 points for the Bruins.
However, there are some concerns for UCLA. The Bruins got Adem Bona back on the starting lineup on Saturday but guard David Singleton looked like he had twisted his right ankle badly in the final minute coming onto the pitch. Singleton was helped by the court after writhing in pain despite being able to put weight on his leg.
“He didn’t break his ankle, which I feared,” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said of the injury.
An absence of Singleton in the Sweet 16 and a potential Elite Eight matchup would be huge for a UCLA team missing Jaylen Clark due to a lower leg injury.
Maddy Siegrist dominates
Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist went into Saturday’s first-round game against Cleveland State as the nation’s top scorer with 29 points per game. She easily topped that average with 35 points in Villanova’s 76-59 win.
Siegrist leads the nation in field goals scored and is second in field goal attempts per game. She was 15 of 28 from the field as no other wildcat had more than 10 shots.
Villanova made sure to make a statement early, outscoring Cleveland State 42-21 in the first half. By the end of the third quarter the lead was 29, but Siegrist ended up playing all but four minutes.
The win sets up a matchup with Florida Gulf Coast in the second round on Monday.
Rick Barnes is looking for the first Elite Eight since 2008
Rick Barnes is in his 36th season as head coach at college basketball’s highest level. His teams have won 778 games in those 36 seasons and he has coached 20 winning teams in 23 of those 36 seasons.
Yet Barnes has never found much success in the NCAA tournament. His teams have consistently done very poorly against the spread in the postseason and have only made one Final Four. That was in 2003 when Texas made it to the national semifinals.
And Barnes’ most recent Elite Eight appearance came five years later with the Longhorns in 2008. Since then, teams from Texas and Tennessee coached by Barnes have competed in nine NCAA tournaments. But neither of those teams has won three games in any of those appearances.
Tennessee has a strong chance of winning three games in 2023 after beating Duke 65-52. The Vols got 27 points from Olivier Nkamhoua and simply passed the Blue Devils on the glass. And thanks to Purdue’s upset loss to Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday, Tennessee must beat either the Knights or Florida Atlantic next Thursday to have a shot at Barnes’ second Final Four.
Furman cannot advance to Sweet 16
Furman’s NCAA tournament run ended the first weekend.
The No. 13 Paladins stunned Virginia on Thursday but were dominated by No. 5 San Diego State in Saturday’s first game of the day. The Aztecs won 75-52 as their stifling defense caused Furman to shoot just 32% of the field.
JP Pegues hit the game-winning shot against Virginia and was only 3-of-15 out of the field against San Diego State. The Aztecs had four players in double figures and shot 23 of 38 from the arc.
San Diego State broke Mountain West’s losing streak at the NCAA tournament with Thursday’s win and is now in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.