SACRAMENTO — Nearly three decades after one of the most stunning upsets in NCAA history, the Princeton Tigers delivered another with a stunning 59-55 victory over second-seeded Arizona on Thursday.
After being down for most of the game, No. 15 seed Princeton’s tight defense and pinpoint passing allowed the Tigers to put on several runs in the second half, including a 9–0 run to close out the game. With about two minutes remaining, Ryan Langborg drove into the lane to give the Tigers the lead for good.
Up until that point, the Tigers had gone to the foul line only once during the entire game. But with Arizona in trouble, the Wildcats fouled freshman Caden Pierce with 21 seconds left, and he calmly hit both shots to make it 58-55.
Arizona’s Courtney Ramey and Kerr Kriisa missed 3-point attempts in the final seconds, and when Tosan Evbuomwan grabbed the rebound with three seconds remaining, Arizona fouled. Evbuomwan made the first free throw, missed the second, and as the clock expired, the Tigers mobbed in celebration. It was their biggest victory since the team dispatched UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament.
The loss was the second for Arizona as a No. 2 seed; the Wildcats also lost to Santa Clara in 1993. The No. 15 seeds are now 11-138 all-time against the No. 2 seeds. —Scott Miller
Furman floored Virginia with a well-timed steal and quick score.
Less than three hours into the round of 64 of the men’s tournament, No. 13 seed Furman delivered a wild finish, taking out a No. 4 Virginia team that may be best known for losing its first-round game as the top seed. tournament overall. Five years ago.
This time, it looked like the Cavaliers would put up a rally of the underdog. Virginia and Furman traded leads in the final five minutes of the game until Virginia went up by 4 points, 67-63, with 19 seconds remaining. Garrett Hien fouled and made both free throws, and then came a miss on an inbounds play for the Cavaliers.
Virginia’s Kihei Clark attempted to pass the ball to midcourt, but was intercepted by Hien. He quickly passed it to JP Pegues, who hit a 3 from the sideline with about two seconds remaining. Final score: 68-67.
“We had them trapped, I was calling a foul, but God knew and they couldn’t hear me,” Furman’s coach Bob Richey said at the postgame news conference.
Virginia began the game on an 8-0 run and built what seemed to be a comfortable lead, by a double-digit margin with less than 11 minutes remaining in the game. But Furman pulled away and tied the game with 5:42 remaining, setting up the furious finish.
The loss will sting the Cavaliers, but they can find a silver lining in their recent past: After their 2018 first-round loss to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the Cavaliers came back the next season to win the championship. — Oscar Garcia
The Missouri defense clamped down on Utah State.
SACRAMENTO — The state of Utah was spinning. As soon as they found openings in 3-point territory, they thought, the 10th-seeded Aggies would zip past Missouri.
But that never happened. The No. 7 seed Tigers, a team seen as a potential shocked victim in the first round of the NCAA men’s tournament, won the game, 76-65.
Missouri’s pressure defense blocked an Aggies team that ranked fifth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, holding them to 0-for-11 in the first half and just 4-for-24 for the game. Utah State went 0-for-13 before youth guard Steven Ashworth, who ranks sixth in the nation in 3-point percentage (.443), finally made one with 17:51 remaining. For the game, the Tigers held Ashworth to 2-of-10 from 3-point ground.
“Our focus was full-court pressure,” Missouri guard D’Moi Hodge said. “We know what they wanted. They wanted jump shots. We tried to force them to the basket to make two, for the big man to score.
“Make them take tough 3s, make them take bad shots,” Hodge added. “That helped us in the long run.”
Missouri ranked first nationally with a plus-5.9 billing margin. The Tigers nearly matched that number Thursday, forcing 15 Utah State turnovers and committing just 10 themselves. —Scott Miller
Kansas played without coach Bill Self.
Kansas coach Bill Self missed Thursday’s NCAA tournament first-round game against Howard as he continues to recover from a recent health issue.
Norm Roberts, an assistant coach from Kansas who had been the head coach at St. John’s, continued to coach the team in Self’s absence.
Self, 60, missed the Big 12 tournament last week after undergoing a procedure to treat blocked arteries in his heart. The Hall of Fame trainer was released Sunday from a hospital.
Kansas (22-7) went 13-5 in the Big 12, winning a regular-season title for the 17th time during Self’s 20-year tenure, but lost to Texas, 76-56, in the Big 12 tournament final. 12 on Saturday. The Jayhawks, who won the NCAA tournament last year, are the No. 3 seed overall — and No. 1 in the West — this postseason, despite losing three starters from the 2022 title-winning team. —Adam Zagoria
Michigan is bouncing back just in time.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The Michigan women’s team may be on the mend at the right time.
The Wolverines played all of February without Laila Phelia, who had a leg injury. Phelia, a sophomore guard, is one of three Michigan players averaging at least 16 points per game. The team went 4-3 without her, but she returned for the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Michigan also played its last two games in February without Leigha Brown, the team-leading fifth-year guard who scores 18 points per game and whose 5.9 assists per game ranks 15th in Division I.
In late February, the Division I selection committee considered Michigan one of the top 16, which would have allowed the Wolverines to host the first and second rounds on the Ann Arbor campus. But Michigan closed out the month with three losses in four games, including a sub-.500 road loss to Wisconsin.
Michigan slipped to the No. 6 seed, forcing it to travel to the Louisiana State campus, where it will face 11th-seeded UNLV on Friday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
But the team sees positives in the time lost by its leaders. Sophomore guard Jordan Hobbs started every game in February and posted three double-figure scoring games. Greta Kampschroeder and Cameron Williams also increased their roles.
“A lot of people got experience that maybe they wouldn’t have if Laila was still there,” Emily Kiser, a graduate forward who averages 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, said at a news conference. “So I think we’re coming back stronger.”
Kiser expects a physical game against UNLV, which enters the tournament having won 22 straight games. But Michigan will enter with its top three scorers — Brown, Phelia and Kiser — back together.
“Because other teams can’t do that, just take away a player, we may have other options,” Phelia said. — evan easterling
Injuries can play a leading role.
ALBANY – Some of the best teams in the NCAA Men’s Tournament are dealing with major injuries to key players.
Houston guard Marcus Sasser, the American Athletic Conference player of the year, suffered a groin injury in the semifinals of the conference tournament. Houston was still ensconced as the No. 1 seed and No. 2 overall behind Alabama despite the uncertainty surrounding their first all-American first team since Hakeem Olajuwon.
On Wednesday, before Houston’s Thursday night game against No. 16 Northern Kentucky, coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters that Sasser would be “one of those infamous game-time decisions.”
Fully healthy, Houston may have the best backcourt in college in Sasser, who is averaging 17.1 points and 3.2 assists, and Jamal Shead, who is averaging 10.3 points and 5.4 assists. But without Sasser, Houston may have trouble scoring.
Miami’s Norchad Omier is a 6-foot-7 Nicaraguan forward who averages 13.6 points and 9.7 rebounds; he also plays a key role as a big, physical body in the team’s defensive scheme. Omier missed most of Miami’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinal against Duke with an ankle injury, but looked good during an on-court workout Thursday at MVP Arena in Albany.
“We’re going to put him through a workout today and see how he’s doing,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said beforehand. “If he is good, we are good. If he is not, we will know and we will make the adjustments ”.
Several other teams are also missing key contributors. Tennessee point guard Zakai Zeigler suffered a torn ACL in a win over Arkansas on February 28. Xavier is playing without forward Zach Freemantle, who has been out since Jan. 28 with a foot injury. And UCLA is without Jaylen Clark, one of the best defensemen in the nation, because of an Achilles tendon injury.
Heading into Thursday’s game against No. 15 UNC Asheville, the No. 2 Bruins were also weighing whether to play their first-year big man Adem Bona, who is battling soreness in his left shoulder following an injury against Oregon. in the Pac-12 tournament. He was involved in “a few things” during practice Wednesday, head coach Mick Cronin told reporters.
“He’s going to have to play in some pain at some point if we keep playing,” Cronin said. “But he would never put himself in jeopardy for his career.” —Adam Zagoria
Obama chose Iona as the annoying candidate.
ALBANY — Iona’s trainer, Rick Pitino, already admired former President Barack Obama. Now, he’s an even bigger fan.
when obama posted his NCAA tournament brackets on Twitter On Wednesday, he chose Pitino and the No. 13 Gaels to defeat No. 4 Connecticut in the men’s first round, in their Friday afternoon meeting, and then to beat VCU before losing to Kansas in the Round of 16. final.
“I’ve always said that President Obama was one of the smartest presidents we’ve ever had, and this gives credit to that,” Pitino quipped Thursday.
Obama has a men’s Final Four of Baylor vs. Duke in one national semifinal and Houston vs. UCLA in the other. The former president chose Duke over Houston in the final.
In the women’s Final Four, Obama selected all of the No. 1 seeds, with defending champion South Carolina beating Indiana in the final.
Pitino, 70, has been linked to St. John’s head coaching vacancy after the school fired Mike Anderson last week after four seasons.
“I have a great team coming back,” Pitino said Thursday, adding, “It’s going to take a special place for me to consider leaving.”
In addition to his coaching stints at Kentucky and with the Knicks and Celtics, Pitino, a Naismith Hall of Famer, also previously coached in the Big East in Providence, leading the Friars to the 1987 Final Four, and in Louisville, which he guided to the NCAA championship in 2013. That title was vacated after the NCAA ruled the school had paid guards to help recruit players. Pitino has denied knowing anything about the scandal of the escorts. —Adam Zagoria