Dayton was game, but Florida won their 30th straight to reach their 5th Final Four
The Florida Gators are first yet again this season.
Scottie Wilbekin scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half, and Florida became the first team to advance to the Final Four with a 62-52 win Saturday night over the 11th-seeded Dayton Flyers in the South Region final.
The Gators reached their fifth Final Four after losing at this point in each of the past three NCAA tournaments. This time, they came in as the country’s top-ranked team and the overall No. 1 seed.
Florida won its 30th straight game and improved to 36-2, topping the 35 wins by the 2007 national championship squad.
Ben Brust and his Wisconsin teammates got oodles of open shots while they sliced and diced Baylor’s vaunted zone defense. When the Bears had the ball, 7-foot Frank Kaminsky always seemed to be right in their way.
Brust, Kaminsky and their Badgers realize they dominated Baylor in a 69-52 victory Thursday night because of a coach who always puts them in the right spots.
Bo Ryan has never been to college basketball’s final weekend, but the Badgers are thrilled to put him on the brink.
”That would be a very special thing to do, but we also know that he’s not going to let us look too far ahead,” said Brust, who scored 14 points. ”When that time comes, we’ll handle it. I’d definitely like to do that for him.”
Nick Johnson put an awful first half behind him and came up big for Arizona in the final 2:45.
The Pac-12 player of the year scored all of his 15 points over that span after missing his first 10 shots, and helped Arizona hold off San Diego State 70-64 on Thursday night to reach the final eight of the NCAA tournament.
“When I hit one shot it just started to feel a little bit better,” he said. “I just kept on hitting shots.”
Mostly, Johnson hit free throws, making all 10 of his attempts to go with a field goal and a 3-pointer after the Aztecs shut him down for the first 37 minutes.
Like a red and blue blur, the Dayton Flyers were pressing and passing, shooting and scoring. The waves never seemed to stop coming, with 10, 11 and then 12 players giving them quality minutes.
An exhausted and foul-plagued Stanford simply couldn’t keep up.
The underdog Flyers — an 11 seed in this South Region — are now in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984 after an emphatic 82-72 victory over Stanford on Thursday night.
“We had 11 guys score in the game and from top to bottom, we kept coming and coming,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “The way they shared the ball and moved the ball … it was a true team effort. It’s nice that on the biggest stage, we acted like ourselves.”
For 18 seconds, it was happening. Harvard owned basketball, too.
Laurent Rivard made a 3-pointer from the corner, flashed his 3-point goggles toward an unhinged group of Crimson fans and ran down the court. The Ivy Leaguers had overcome a 16-point deficit to take a two-point lead over a Michigan State team that always comes up big at March Madness.
The next time down the court, Travis Trice came back with a 3 to put the Spartans back in the lead. A few minutes later, Michigan State was out of danger — not by much, though — on the way to an 80-73 victory that put basketball back in a more familiar, but arguably less-scintillating orbit.
Led by a career-high 26 points from Branden Dawson, the fourth-seeded Spartans (28-8) moved onto the Sweet 16 for the 12th time in the last 17 seasons. They’ll play Virginia or Memphis next Friday at Madison Square Garden.
UConn 77 Nova 65
Villanova becomes the first 2-seed to lose, falling to their old Big East mates
Dyshawn Pierre scored 14 points and Jordan Sibert, held scoreless in the first half, hit a key 3-pointer with 47.7 seconds left as Dayton stunned Syracuse 55-53 Saturday night to earn a spot in Sweet 16 for the first time in three decades.
Syracuse was poised to pull out another close victory, but Tyler Ennis missed two jumpers that would have given the Orange the lead in the final seconds.
Dayton (25-10), the 11th seed in the South Regional, advances to the regional semifinals next week and will play Kansas or Stanford.
In a test of tempos, Wisconsin delivered the knockout punch.
Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer with 1:07 left and the second-seeded Badgers overcame seventh-seeded Oregon’s transition game for a thrilling 85-77 win Saturday night to get into the Sweet 16.
Brust’s clutch 3 from the corner gave the Badgers (28-7) the lead for good in a clash of styles played before a boisterous pro-Wisconsin crowd at the anything-but-neutral Bradley Center.
Traevon Jackson followed with three free throws, but missed one with 21 seconds left to give the Ducks (24-10) one more chance to tie trailing by three.