NCAA Tournament reaches Sweet 16
Following a three-day breather after a weekend of chaos, the men’s NCAA Tournament returns to action with the start of the Sweet 16.
The first of four games in the West and East regions tips off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET when Michigan State plays Kansas State. Following the Spartans-Wildcats clash will be Connecticut vs. Arkansas, which knocked off No. 1 seeded Kansas. Florida Atlantic, which ended the Cinderella story for No. 16 seeded Fairleigh Dickinson, will take on Tennessee in the night’s third game, and a heavyweight showdown between UCLA and Gonzaga will conclude the night.
Follow along for live updates throughout the rest of the day.
MEN’S TOURNAMENT:Complete scores and schedule
WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT:Complete scores and schedule
Follow the madness: Latest Men’s NCAA Tournament College Basketball Scores and Schedules
Halftime: Kansas State 43, Michigan State 38
Markquis Nowell was an offensive magician, weaving pinpoint passes to teammates to give No. 3 Kansas State a five-point lead over 7-seeded Michigan State at the break.
Nowell racked up 10 assists in the first 20 minutes and added a deep 3-point field goal for the Wildcats.
The Spartans, meanwhile, got a torrid first-half effort from Joey Hauser (12 points, three rebounds). Hauser connected on 2 of 4 attempts from 3-point range. Michigan State also won the first-half rebound battle 18-12 and pulled down seven offensive boards compared to just one for Kansas State
Why you might see Barry Sanders during Michigan State’s Sweet 16 game
A lot of college basketball fans perhaps not completely clued into Michigan State basketball appeared to be taken aback when Pro Football Hall of Famer and Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders appeared on their television screens wearing a green and white MSU cap — and sitting behind former MSU football coach Mark Dantonio and Kirk Gibson — during the Spartans’ second-round NCAA tournament game Sunday against Marquette.
But as all Spartan supporters know, there’s a very simple explanation as to why Sanders was in Columbus, Ohio, for the game. His son, Nick, is a freshman on the MSU basketball team.
– Phil Friend, Lansing State Journal
Las Vegas is now poised to be a hub for college sports with several NCAA events scheduled over the next several years, beginning with Thursday’s West Regional at T-Mobile Arena. From golf to bowling to hockey — the 2026 Frozen Four will also be held here — the NCAA logo will soon be as ubiquitous on the Las Vegas Strip as ads for celebrity chef restaurants and Cirque du Soleil shows.
It will all lead up to 2028, when the NCAA brings its crown jewel event, the men’s Final Four, here for the first (and probably not last) time.
“It was just getting over the stigma that it was Las Vegas,” said Jim Livengood, the longtime athletics director at Washington State, Arizona and UNLV.
— Dan Wolken
With Mick Cronin in charge, the forecast for UCLA’s storied basketball program remains perpetually sunny. The Bruins are in the Sweet 16 of the men’s NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.
Up next: a rematch against Gonzaga, which at the 2021 Final Four outlasted UCLA in overtime, 93-90.
“We’re four games away from hanging a 12th banner,” Cronin said, referring to UCLA’s 11 national championships. “That’s how we look at it. That’s how we talk about it.”
— Josh Peter
The men’s Sweet 16 round tips Thursday night, with action in the Big Apple and Sin City.
►No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 7 Michigan State
Time/TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, TBS
►No. 4 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Arkansas
Time/TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
►No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic
Time/TV: 9 p.m. ET, TBS
►No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 3 Gonzaga
Time/TV: 9:45 p.m. ET, CBS
Best shot at making Final Four
The 2022 Final Four in men’s basketball was, in the end, dominated by bluebloods. This year’s version could be more about new bloods.
Of the 16 remaining teams, only four have won a championship (Michigan State, UCLA, UConn, Arkansas). Three of those are in the same region, so there’s a high probability that somebody new will be cutting down the nets in Houston.
Seven of the Sweet 16 teams (Alabama, Creighton, Florida Atlantic Miami, San Diego State, Tennessee and Xavier) have never even been to a Final Four. We ranked them in order of their chances to make the national semifinals for the first time.
— Eddie Timanus
What have we learned?
Surprises and upsets defined the first two rounds of the men’s NCAA Tournament, sending some of college basketball’s biggest names packing – including Kansas, Purdue, Duke, Virginia and Kentucky – as Fairleigh Dickinson beat Purdue and Princeton topped Arizona and Missouri to write two of the top Cinderella stories in recent tournament history.
Amid this flurry of unpredictability, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
With the Sweet 16 set to begin, we detailed eight lessons learned from the first weekend of the tournament.
— Paul Myerberg
Ranked outside the top 25 for most of the season, Michigan State would not have been considered much of a threat to get to the Sweet 16 except for one thing: They have Tom Izzo on the sidelines.
It’s not that Izzo is unbeatable or has an ironclad track record in March. Like every other great coach, he’s had his share of surprising flameouts. But every few years, Izzo finds a way to push a team deeper into the tournament than it’s supposed to go.
Michigan State’s second-round win against No. 2 seed Marquette was the 16th time Izzo has beaten a higher-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament, beating out Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim for the all-time record. Perhaps more impressively, it was the sixth time he has gotten to the Sweet 16 with a team seeded fifth or worse.
The Spartans take on No. 3 seed Kansas State in the first men’s Sweet 16 game Thursday.
— Dan Wolken
Princeton men, women win first-round games in same year, make Ivy history
This was a tournament to remember for the Ivy League even before Princeton’s men reached the second round.
This is the first year the Ivy’s teams have won first-round games in both tournaments. A day after the Princeton men stunned Arizona, the 10th-seeded Princeton women upset N.C. State on Friday night on a 3-pointer with seven seconds left.
“We were watching (the men) in the locker room right before practice,” Julia Cunningham said Friday night. “Watching them, all the coverage they are getting from the media, it was so well deserved. We looked at each other and thought, we’re next, now it’s our turn.
“It is special,” she added. “A special week to be a Tiger.”
The Princeton women were beaten in the second round by Utah, but the Tigers’ men will take on Creighton on Friday in the Sweet 16.
– Nancy Armour
Final USA TODAY Sports coaches poll
Houston entered the NCAA Tournament with the No. 1 ranking in the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll, despite its loss in the American Athletic Conference championship game prior to the unveiling of the brackets.
The Cougars, who were playing without leading scorer Marcus Sasser in the loss to Memphis, retained 21 of 32 No. 1 votes to stave off second-ranked Alabama. The Crimson Tide received eight firsts after winning the SEC title in impressive fashion on Sunday.
Houston and Alabama are the lone No. 1 seeds remaining in the tournament after Kansas was knocked off by Arkansas in the second round and Purdue, the top seed in the East, was upset in the first round by Fairleigh Dickinson.
— Eddie Timanus
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