March Madness viewer’s guide for Saturday’s 2nd round action
Mackenzie Salmon provides you with everything you need to know for Saturday’s 2nd round March Madness action.
The first eight bids for the Sweet 16 in the men’s NCAA Tournament will be locked up Saturday, while the women’s tournament finishes up the first round.
Furman and Princeton took the sports world by storm Thursday with upsets of No. 4 Virginia and No. 2 Arizona, respectively. Both were in action again. The 13-seeded Paladins started the men’s action with a loss to No. 5 San Diego State. But the 15-seeded Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16 with a win against No. 7 Missouri.
On the women’s side, No. 1 seed Indiana was in action after top seeds South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Stanford took care of business on Friday. The Hoosiers kicked off Day 2 of the women’s first round with a 77-47 win against No. 16 seed Tennessee Tech, which beat Monmouth in a First Four game on Thursday.
Think you have what it takes to beat your friends? Test your college basketball skills (or luck) here with USA TODAY’s Survivor Pool. Bookmark our brackets page, too!
MEN’S TOURNAMENT: Complete scores and schedule
WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT: Complete scores and schedule
No. 4 UCLA started the game on a 16-2 run and never looked back, handling 13th-seeded Sacramento State with ease, winning 67-45. Freshman Kiki Rice led the way with 15 points, while senior Charisma Osborne finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. UCLA outrebounded Sac State 47-32 and turned the ball over just five times. The Bruins will play Oklahoma on Monday for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Shaylee Gonzales led four players in double figures with 20 points, Rori Harmon dished out 12 assists and Texas dominated East Carolina in every phase of the game in a 79-40 win. Texas had as many points in the paint as East Carolina had total, and the Longhorns shot 54% while holding the Pirates to less than 18% shooting. Texas did have 17 turnovers, but East Carolina could only turn them into eight points.
— Nancy Armour
No. 8 Maryland got off to a quick 9-2 start but Alabama asserted control and then cruised to a 73-51 victory in the final game of Saturday’s men’s NCAA Tournament slate. Alabama joined Houston as the only No. 1 seeds to make it through the opening weekend after Kansas lost earlier Saturday and Purdue was shocked by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round on Friday.
It was a struggle from the field for both teams. Maryland shot just 35.2% from the field, including a 1-for-8 mark from 3-point range. Alabama wasn’t much better even playing in front of a partisan crowd in Birmingham, converting just 39.7% from the field and hitting six of its 21 3-point attempts.
Brandon Miller, who didn’t score in the Crimson Tide’s first-round win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, found a semblance of his pre-injury form, finishing with 19 points, though he went just 5-for-17 from the field. Jahvon Quinerly led Alabama with 22 points.
The Crimson Tide will face No. 5 San Diego State in the Sweet 16.
Third-seeded Duke outrebounded No. 14 seed Iona 43-15 (no, that’s not a misprint) as the Blue Devils led wire-to-wire in their 89-49 blowout win.
Kennedy Brown scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out four assists. Twelve different Blue Devils got in the scorebook as Duke shot 58% from the field, advancing to the second round to meet sixth-seeded Colorado.
Seven players scored 8 points or more, led by 14 from both Taylor Robertson and Aubrey Joens, and Oklahoma became the second fifth-seed to win Saturday, using a 24-point third quarter to separate from Portland and go on to win, 85-63.
The Sooners, regular season co-champions of the Big 12, led almost the entire game. OU held Portland to 38% from the field and just 16% from 3, and out rebounded UP 49-30. The Sooners turned 18 Portland turnovers into 23 points, too. Portland forward Alex Fowler finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Another day, another major injury for UCLA … maybe.
The Bruins won 68-63 over seventh-seeded Northwestern on Saturday, but it came with a scare.
Fifth-year guard David Singleton, who averages 9.2 points for the second-seeded Bruins, went down with 20.3 seconds to play and UCLA up 64-60 after badly turning his right ankle.
Singleton was clearly in a lot of pain, and paramedics actually came on to the floor to cart him off. He managed to hobble off with help, but the loss of another guard could be devastating for UCLA. Just before the conference tournament the Bruins lost Jaylen Clark, one of the nation’s best perimeter defenders, to a season-ending injury.
Singleton came back out to the handshake line and was walking on his own power, which is a good sign for the Bruins. Mick Cronin said afterward that he wasn’t sure how bad Singleton’s injury was, but “I knew it scared him.”
Singleton had five points and six rebounds in 28 minutes in UCLA’s win. He will likely be re-evaluated and his availability will be announced later this week.
Alabama star Brandon Miller finally got in the points column in the Crimson Tide’s second-round game against No. 8 Maryland. After going scoreless (0-for-5 from the field) in the first-round victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi while dealing with a groin injury, Miller hit three of eight shot attempts in the first half against the Terrapins to take a game-high nine points into halftime. No. 1 Alabama led 28-23.
No. 2 Texas was in control most of the game, but a 10-0 Penn State run put the No. 10 Nittany Lions up 58-55 with 4:50 to go.
Undaunted, the Longhorns responded with a 10-0 run of their own, powered by four Dylan Disu baskets. Disu finished with a game-high 28 points and added 10 rebounds for the double-double.
The victory advanced Texas to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. It will face the winner of Sunday’s game between Xavier and Pitt.
Frida Formann scored 15 of her team-high 21 points on 3-pointers, and Colorado used its long-range shooting to roll past Middle Tennessee 82-60. The sixth-seeded Buffaloes made a season-high 13 3-pointers, including one by Tayanna Jones midway through the first quarter that gave Colorado the lead for good.
It’s the first time since 2003 that Colorado has won a first-round game.
– Nancy Armour
A frenzied back-and-forth game featuring 12 lead changes and 14 ties came to an end when Hailey Van Lith, Louisville’s All-American guard, hit a pull-up at the elbow with 53 seconds to play, giving Louisville a lead it would not relinquish.
The Cardinals clinched the 83-81 win by making four of five free throws in the final 20 seconds, staving off what would have been the third 12-5 upset of the day.
After Drake hit two free throws to get within one, 78-77, a terrific sideline out of bounds play from Louisville got Van Lith open for an and-1 layup with 16 seconds to play, which made it a two possession game. A quick 3 from Drake’s Sarah Beth Gueldner again brought the Bulldogs within one, but Van Lith hit two more free throws to give Louisville breathing room. Drake’s next 3 attempt missed badly, and Louisville fouled to not allow a 3. Drake made the first free throw and missed the second, but Louisville corralled the rebound.
Van Lith led all scorers with 26 points, while Mykasa Robinson added 14 points and seven assists. Five Drake players scored in double figures, led by Katie Dinnebier, who had 20 points and seven assists.
No. 1 Houston found itself down 10 at halftime against No. 9 Auburn in Birmingham, Alabama. The Cougars were in danger of becoming the third No. 1 seed to be eliminated before the Sweet 16. But they turned it on in the second half, outscoring Auburn 50-23 on the way to an 81-64 victory.
This was not an aesthetically pleasing game. The teams combined to shoot 65 free throws. One of the major differences in the contest was the shooting from the free throw line: Houston hit 24 of its 29 attempts (82.8%); Auburn went a dreadful 19-for-36 (52.8%).
Houston received a boost from the return of Marcus Sasser. The AAC player of the year aggravated a groin injury suffered in the conference tournament in Thursday’s first-round win over Northern Kentucky. But he got the start Saturday and scored 22 points on 7-for-14 shooting. That trailed only Tramon Mark, who had a game-high 26 points.
The Cougars will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Miami and Indiana.
This was a tournament to remember for the Ivy League even before the Princeton men reached the Sweet 16.
This is the first year the Ivy’s teams have won first-round games in both tournaments. A day after the No. 15 Princeton men stunned No. 2 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.”
– Nancy Armour
In a battle of Tigers, No. 15 Princeton looked like the higher seed with an impressive 78-63 win over No. 7 Missouri.
Ryan Langborg led the way with a game-high 22 points.
Princeton is just the fourth No. 15 seed to reach the men’s Sweet 16, joining 2013 FGCU, 2021 Oral Roberts and 2022 Saint Peter’s, which made it all the way to the Elite Eight last year before falling to national runner-up North Carolina.
The Ivy League’s Tigers will play the winner of Sunday’s Baylor-Creighton game.
The No. 8 Razorbacks sent the defending champions home, defeating No. 1 Kansas 72-71 in the second round of the men’s NCAA Tournament. To celebrate, coach Eric Musselman ripped his shirt off. Really.
Musselman, one of the most high-energy coaches in college basketball – which is saying something – pulled his polo up over his head and twirled it before “Calling the Hogs” with celebrating Arkansas fans. Photos showed him embracing players and coaches sans-shirt.
This isn’t the first time the 58-year-old’s shirt has come off on the court or locker room. Musselman was known to rip his shirt off in celebration during his previous stop at Nevada from 2015-2019.
The Razorbacks are into the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year. We imagine if they break through to the Final Four, we will see more of Musselman’s midriff this March.
The second No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s tournament has gone down before the Sweet 16.
No. 8 Arkansas knocked off No. 1 Kansas 72-71 with a spirited second-half surge and late free throws by Ricky Council IV.
Baylor’s long-range shooting kept the Bears in the NCAA tournament.
After being held to a season-low four points in the first quarter and trailing by as much as 18 in the first half, Baylor shot itself back into the game from long range. Baylor made 14 3-pointers – no, that’s not a misprint – with Ja’Mee Asberry contributing seven of them in the No. 7 seed’s 78-74 victory over 10th-seeded Alabama.
Baylor didn’t have the lead until Sarah Andrews made a 3 – what else? – with 5:35 left in the third quarter. But Alabama came back and regained control, leading by eight early in the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide went cold, however, making just two field goals over the final 6:21, and made several mistakes that allowed Baylor to close it out.
The loss spoiled a monster effort by Alabama’s Brittany Davis, who matched her career high with 33 points. At one point in the first half, Davis was singlehandedly outscoring Baylor.
— Nancy Armour
Princeton takes a 33-26 lead into the locker room against Missouri as it aims to become the fourth No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 of the men’s NCAA Tournament.
Princeton led 33-19 before Missouri closed on a 7-0 run that included Sean East II beating the buzzer to take a little bit of momentum into halftime.
– Jace Evans
Maddy Siegrist reached another milestone in the Wildcats’ 76-59 win over the Vikings. She became just the fifth player in women’s Division I history to score 1,000 points in a single season following her 35-point performance on her birthday. She’s the first person to do so in Villanova history.
The Wildcats shot 43.9% from the field, 10-for-25 from three and outrebounded the Vikings 45-29. Christina Dalce added 16 rebounds and eight offensive boards.
Destiny Leo had 25 points.
North Carolina’s Deja Kelly came up clutch in a thrilling first-round game Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, driving and scoring on an and-1 to give the Tar Heels a 61-58 edge with 2.2 seconds left.
St. John’s Danielle Patterson was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 1.5 seconds to play and had a chance to tie, but the 81% free throw shooter missed her first two attempts and North Carolina held on to win and advance to play third-seeded Ohio State on Monday.
St. John’s took its first lead with 6:39 to go on a 3 to go up 49-48, and the teams traded big plays for the rest of the game. Mimi Reid scored for St. John’s on a wild layup with 6.5 seconds to go, and it looked like overtime was near. But then Kelly came up big for UNC.
Kelly scored 18 points and grabbed 4 rebounds, while Kennedy Todd-Williams added 14 points and seven rebounds. Jayla Everett led St. John’s with 17 points.
The Jayhawks entered halftime with a 35-27 lead over the Razorbacks, but Kansas fans collectively held their breath when Dajuan Harris Jr. went down with an ankle injury. He hobbled to the locker room with 3:07 left in the half after landing awkwardly on his right foot while contesting a shot. He had four points, while Jalen Wilson leads the team with nine points.
Arkansas’ Anthony Black turned his ankle early in the game, but returned after getting his ankle re-taped. He has two points and Ricky Council IV has a game-high 10 points.
Both teams are struggling from the 3-point line. Kansas was 1-for-7 from beyond the arc, while Arkansas was 1-for-9.
In the second 12-5 upset of the day, the Rockets of Toledo used 48% shooting to knock off fifth-seeded Iowa State 80-73. Toledo advances to play Tennessee on the Lady Vols’ home floor Monday.
Five-foot-10 guard Quinesha Lockett — fittingly nicknamed “Lockett the Rocket” — scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the win, and Jayda Jansen added 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Iowa State star Ashley Joens, a perennial All-American, finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but her team went just 13-for-30 on layups and couldn’t recover after being outscored 23-13 in the second quarter.
Toledo built as much as a 16-point lead in the second half as the Rockets picked up their first NCAA Tournament win since 1996.
Aaliyah Edwards did a little bit of everything in UConn’s 43-point win over Vermont. She finished with a career-high 28 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and two blocks. Caroline Ducharme added 12 points off the bench.
The Huskies controlled the boards, outrebounding the Catamounts 43-19, and had 14 free throw attempts, compared with Vermont’s two. UConn shot 61.9% from the field, compared with the Catamounts shooting 33.3%.
Tennessee’s Olivier Nkamhoua was on fire in the second half, scoring 23 of his 27 points after halftime. He entered Friday’s matchup shooting 31.3% from 3-point range but went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to extend Tennessee’s lead in the second half. Nkamhoua put an exclamation point on the win with a put-back dunk with 1:16 left.
“They didn’t let me play in the first so I had to get my action in the second,” Nkamhoua said after the 65-52 win.
Turnovers were the story of the game for the Blue Devils. They committed 15 turnovers that led to 18 points for the Volunteers. Tyrese Proctor led Duke with 16 points. Dereck Lively II had 11 rebounds, but didn’t attempt a shot the entire game. Jeremy Roach, who was in foul trouble a majority of the game, finished with 13 points.
The nation’s leader in 3-pointers per game needed only five treys — Florida Gulf Coast averages almost 12 — to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the women’s first round, topping fifth-seeded Washington State 74-63.
This is the second year in a row that No. 12 seed FGCU beat a 5 in the first round (last year Virginia Tech fell victim to the Eagles). FGCU shot a sizzling 56% from the field and dominated the paint (50 to 26) in the win.
It was a significant letdown for Washington State, which just a couple weeks ago won the school’s first-ever Pac-12 championship when the Cougars knocked off UCLA in the conference tournament championship. FGCU did a terrific job locking up WSU star Charlisse Ledger-Walker, who finished with just five points before fouling out with 5:25 to play.
Four Eagles scored in double figures, led by guard Sha Carter, who had 24 on 10-for-13 shooting. She also grabbed 6 rebounds.
The Hurricanes edged out a 62-61 win over the Cowgirls on Friday and it was a dramatic finish. Oklahoma State’s Anna Gret Asi knocked down a quick three with 5.3 seconds left in the game to bring the Cowgirls within one, 62-61. Miami was hit with a five-second violation and turned the ball over while attempting to inbound the ball. Oklahoma State’s Naomie Alnatas missed a jumper that would have won the game as the clock expired.
The Hurricanes outscored the Cowgirls 42-24 in the second half to erase a 17-point halftime deficit, which is tied for the fifth largest comeback in NCAA tournament history. It was a team effort for Miami with four starters in double digits, led by Haley Cavinder’s 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Blue Devils and Volunteers are finding a tough time finding the bucket as Tennessee leads 27-21 at halftime.
Tennessee is shooting 33% and closed the first half on a 14-2 run and Duke, who have also committed 11 turnovers is doing slightly better, hitting at a 36 percent clip.
Dariq Whitehead leads Duke with eight points, while Santiago Vescovi is pacing the Volunteers with eight points.
No lead is safe when Ohio State is playing.
The third-seeded Buckeyes rallied from 16 points down to beat 14th-seeded James Madison 80-66. It’s the seventh time this year Ohio State has won after trailing by double digits, including a record-setting comeback against Indiana in the Big Ten tournament semifinals when the Buckeyes erased a 24-point deficit.
Big Ten freshman of the year Cotie McMahon had 18 before fouling out to lead four Buckeyes in double figures. Ohio State also got a big game from Jacy Sheldon, who was playing just her fourth game – and making her first start – after missing much of the last three months with a foot injury. Sheldon had 17 points, nine assists and four steals.
The loss continued the streak of futility for 14 seeds in the women’s tournament.
– Nancy Armour
Rickea Jackson and Jordan Horston combined for 39 of the Lady Vols’ 95 points in a first-round win over the Billikens. Horston (8 rebounds) was two point shy of a double-double. The 45-point win marked Tennessee’s largest margin of victory of the season and the Lady Vols improved to 25-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at home.
Brooke Flowers, Saint Louis’ all-time leader in blocks, added five more to her career total Saturday, in addition to 17 points and nine rebounds in her last collegiate game. The Billikens collectively shot 3-for-20 from 3-point range, had 20 turnovers and were outrebounded 39-28.
San Diego State is heading to the Sweet 16 after using a suffocating defensive effort to shut down Furman, ending the Paladins’ Cinderella run in the second round.
The Aztecs advance to the South Regional in Louisville, Kentucky to face the winner of Alabama and Maryland, making their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2014.
Micah Parrish had 16 points for San Diego State, who shot 50 percent and outrebounded Furman by 16 as the Paladins had no answer for the Aztecs and their inside game. Darrion Trammell had 13 points, Lamont Butler scored 12, and Matt Bradley chipped in with 10.
Jalen Slawson, the Southern Conference Player of the Year, had eight points and two rebounds before fouling out with 10 minutes left. Mike Bothwell led Furman with 15 points. The Paladins shot 32 percent, including 6-26 from three-point range.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama forward Brandon Miller is expected to play against Maryland, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Tuscaloosa News on Saturday. The person was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about Miller’s status.
Miller played only 19 minutes in the win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday and did not score . He is dealing with a groin injury suffered in the SEC Tournament final.
The SEC player of the year, who has been in the headlines because of his involvement in a capital murder case, was held out of live practice drills Friday, Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “I think knowing Brandon and how tough he is, physically, mentally, I think he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
— Nick Kelly, The Tuscaloosa News
Sydney Parrish led the Hoosiers to a 30-point win over the Golden Eagles with 19 points, eight rebounds and one steal. Indiana had two other starters in double digits: Grace Berger (17 points) and Yarden Garzon (12 points).
But the star of the show was the Hoosiers’ defense with 11 blocks and seven steals in front of a crowd of 14,000 fans at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. “It’s such an advantage having a sixth man,” Berger said of the home crowd.
Tennessee Tech was held to eight fourth-quarter points. Maaliya Owens had a team-high 17 points.
San Diego State is 20 minutes from the Sweet 16 as it leads Furman 39-25 at halftime in second-round action in the South Region.
The Aztecs took control with an 18-1 run, holding Furman without a field goal for more than 10 minutes. The Paladins shot 33 percent, including 2-of-11 from 3-point range, in the first half.
Micah Parrish has 14 points off the bench for SDSU, while Furman’s Jalen Slawson has eight points and two rebounds.
– Scooby Axson
Saturday’s winners earn a spot in the Sweet 16, and the eight games feature some of the best teams and players in college basketball. Three No. 1 seeds are in action, and the spotlight is on first-team All-Americans Jalen Wilson of Kansas and Alabama forward Brandon Miller, and potentially Houston’s do-everything guard Marcus Sasser.
Here’s the list of Saturday’s eight games ranked by how watchable they are.
- No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 5 Duke (2:40 p.m. ET)
- No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Maryland (9:40 p.m.)
- No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 15 Princeton (6:10 p.m.)
- No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Arkansas (5:15 p.m.)
- No. 1 Houston vs. No. 9 Auburn (7:10 p.m.)
- No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Northwestern (8:40 p.m.)
- No. 2 Texas vs. No. 10 Penn State (7:45 p.m.)
- No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 13 Furman (12:10 p.m.)
– Scooby Axson
Kansas head coach Bill Self will not coach in the team’s second-round game against Arkansas on Saturday, the school announced. Self continues to recover from a heart catheterization, which caused him to miss the Big 12 tournament. The 60-year-old Self did attend the Jayhawks practice on Friday, but mostly sat and watched.
Assistant Norm Roberts will once again serve as acting head coach for Kansas. He coached the Jayhawks to a 96-68 win over Howard in the first round.
The defending national champions will tip off against the Razorbacks at 5:15 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
In case you missed it Friday night (though we can’t imagine how), Purdue became just the second men’s No. 1 seed to fall to a 16 since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985, when Fairleigh Dickinson shocked the nation with a 63-58 upset.
If there’s a winner besides current Fairleigh Dickinson players and first-year head coach Tobin Anderson — not to mention every single FDU graduate and fan — it’s probably Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who is now not the only coach to lose to a No. 16 seed. Yikes. Talk about a club you don’t want to join.
But perhaps the biggest winners are fans of college hoops. That we’ve now seen two 16-seeds beat 1-seeds in the last five years is proof that parity continues to grow in men’s college basketball, which makes the NCAA Tournament more unpredictable and ultimately, more fun.
— Lindsay Schnell and Paul Myerberg
Lior Garzon’s initial excitement during Sunday’s selection show was over Oklahoma State receiving No. 8 seed in the NCAA women’s tournament opposite No. 9 Miami (Fla.). It took the junior forward less than a minute to realize not only were the Cowgirls dancing, they were heading to Bloomington, Indiana, where her younger sister, Yarden Garzon, is a freshman guard for No. 1-seed Indiana.
At their respective schools by way of Ra’anana, Israel, the Garzon sisters never discussed the possibility of ending up together in the bracket prior to Sunday, but they knew it could at least be in play. Indiana tip-off against Tennessee Tech at 11:30 a.m. ET, followed by Oklahoma State-Miami at 2 p.m.
Thursday’s reunion at the team hotel marked the first time the sisters have seen each other since Yarden visited Stillwater, Oklahoma over winter break.
“I’m really excited to watch her play,” said Lior, who averages 11 points and shoots 43% off the bench.
As for the possibility of an Indiana-Oklahoma State second-round matchup — and Lior was quick to point out they still have to win their first-round games — it would mark the first time the sisters have gone head-to-head since they played in a club game shortly before Lior left for the United States.
— Brian Haenchen, Indianapolis Star
No. 15 seeded Princeton dominated inside and threw the South Region into chaos with an upset of Arizona.
Maybe this wasn’t exactly like when the Tigers pulled off a memorable upset of UCLA in 1996, when they were seeded 14th and beat the third-seeded and defending champion Bruins 43-41. There was more offense and given how common upsets are now, it probably didn’t shock as many people. But it’s still a big deal. And it’s the just the second tournament win for Princeton since that game. The Tigers beat UNLV in the first round in 1998.
— Lindsay Schnell
Princeton might have pulled off the biggest upset Thursday, but 13-seeded Furman’s downing of No. 4 Virginia was a fun (unless you’re a Cavaliers fan, of course) start to the 2023 men’s NCAA Tournament.
It’s been a long wait for Paladins men’s basketball fans. It was more than 40 years since Furman was last in the tournament, and over 45 years since its last March Madness win.
The American Heritage College Dictionary defines a Paladin as a “paragon of chivalry” or “a heroic champion.” A Paladin was also one of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance on the court of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, in the 8th century.
— Jordan Mendoza
Alabama’s biggest opponent may be exhaustion from unending chaos
The athletics director issued a statement at halftime. The most scrutinized 20-year-old in basketball couldn’t make a shot before eventually going to the bench to rest a sore groin. The walk-on nobody had heard of before Wednesday night threatened to sue the New York Times. And the coach is losing his mind on every dribble for two straight hours of a game he didn’t come close to losing.
In other words, it was just another day in Alabama basketball.
— Dan Wolken
That backfired in spectacular fashion.
Just five days after Marcus Sasser strained his groin in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals, he was back in the Cougars’ starting lineup Thursday night. For a first-round game against a No. 16 team.
In a surprise to pretty much no one, Sasser didn’t even make it to halftime. Now top-seeded Houston might not make it to the second weekend, let alone to the Final Four in its hometown.
— Nancy Armour
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 just prior to the unveiling of the brackets on Sunday.
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 handled Northern Kentucky in its first-round game, while Alabama routed Texas A&M Corpus Christi in its tournament opener. The Cougars clash with No. 9 seed Auburn on Saturday, while the Crimson Tide take on 8-seed Maryland.
— Eddie Timanus