[tps_title]Dayton vs Stanford[/tps_title]


Both teams earned spots in the Sweet 16 thanks to stellar defensive performances against some of the nation's best scoring teams.

Dayton was able to play against their normal up-and-down style and play stout defense against Syracuse to earn their birth in the regional semifinal.

Stanford harassed Kansas’ shooters and limited a team that averaged almost 80 points per game to just 57 in their third-round matchup.

Dayton had adapted to the style of their opponent rather than asserting their will. In this contest, the Flyers were able to spread their wings and run against the Stanford Cardinal.

Stanford tried to counter the pace of the Flyers with grinding post play but were hindered by early foul trouble.

When Dwight Powell picked up his second foul in the first eight minutes of the contest he had to take a seat, negating any height advantage the Cardinal held in the post. Stefan Nastic collected two within ten seconds of one another and picked up his third with more than seven minutes remaining in the half to add to the Stanford woes.

Dayton’s depth and ball movement in transition got them easy shots in the first half. The Flyers had four players with at least five points at the half as they took a 10 point advantage into the break.

In the second half, Stanford went on a 7-0 run lead by Powell and Nastic to cut the Dayton lead to 47-43. Five minutes later, Jordan Sibert and Kendall Pollard righted the ship for Dayton and extended the lead back to 12.

Stanford narrowed the Dayton lead down to six with eight minutes to play thanks to five consecutive points by Powell. By the time Nastic fouled out with five minutes left, the Dayton lead had ballooned back to 10 and Stanford could not recover.

Dayton won, 82-72, and is headed back to their first Elite Eight in 30 years.

[tps_title]Baylor vs Wisconsin[/tps_title]


Both Wisconsin and Baylor go to this matchup by dominating their opponents completely.

Baylor used their zone defense and hot three-point shooting to shut down the Creighton Jays. Wisconsin proved that it can play a high scoring style when it is called for in winning an 85-77 track meet against Oregon.

Wisconsin’s ability to play multiple styles was put to the test when they faced a Baylor defense that primarily plays out of zone sets. Wisconsin had not faced a full 40 minutes of zone defense since getting ousted from the tournament by Syracuse.

The Badgers came out completely unphased by Baylor’s zone. They dissected it with precision passing and consistently found the open man underneath. Wisconsin passed their way to 18 assists, six better than their season average.

As much as Baylor struggled on defense, it was even grizzlier for them on offense. Baylor was held to 31 percent shooting on the game and 2-15 from beyond the arc. Hot shooting from distance helped the Bears dispatch Creighton, as they went 11-18 from downtown against the Jays.

Frank Kaminsky led the way for the Badgers on both ends of the court, amassing 19 points while blocking a career-high six shots.

Ben Brust added 14 points and combining with Kaminsky for nearly half of Wisconsin’s point total as the Badgers tamed Baylor, 69-52. It is the Badgers’ fourth ever Elite Eight appearance.

[tps_title]UCLA vs Florida[/tps_title]


On the line in this matchup were two streaks for Florida. One was their 28 game winning streak and the other was a fourth consecutive appearance in the Elite Eight.

For UCLA, it was their opportunity to return to the final eight since their last appearance in 2008.

The trio of Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Travis Wear played well for the Bruins to start the game, rebounding and shooting UCLA into the lead early.

Then Florida woke up. The Gators forced seven turnovers from the Bruins in the first half thanks to their now trademark defensive effort.

When David Wear drained a three to put the Bruins up 14-11, Florida responded with an 11-2 run keyed by Michael Frazer’s long-distance shooting. Frazer connected on three shots from long-range in a three minute span as the Gators took a lead that they would not relinquish.

The Bruins did put together another run midway through the second half to draw within one at 55-56, thanks to a Norman Powell layup. But the Gators answered with a 10-0 run to extend their lead and effectively end any thoughts of a Bruins comeback.

The Gators were efficient on offense, making the extra pass turning good shots into great shots. Kase Hill finished with 10 assists good for half of the Gators’ 20 assists on 29 made baskets.

This performance showed why many favored Florida to win it all.

[tps_title]San Diego State vs Arizona[/tps_title]


Heading into the Regional Semifinal game between San Diego State and Arizona, much of the talk surrounded the lockdown defense that both teams had employed to reach this game.

Both defenses only held for so long before scorers from both teams took over the game late in the second half. Throughout the first half, the game remained close with neither team holding more than a four-point advantage.

San Diego State dominated the Wildcats on the boards to the tune of a 24-14 rebounding advantage in the first half. The Aztecs used a 15-9 run to close the half up by a score of 32-28 .

In the second half, the Arizona duo of Kaleb Tarczewski and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson keyed a Wildcat run that culminated in an Aaron Gordon tip-in, which gave them the lead at 52-50 with under six minutes to play.

With a tight game reaching its final stages, Nick Johnson finally showed up for the Wildcats. Johnson missed his first 10 shots and had zero free throw attempts in the first 37 minutes of the game.

Johnson had his first bucket of the game on a transition layup with 2:46 remaining after the T.J. McConnell steal. That shot finally got the junior guard going.

Where Arizona utilized ball movement and found opportunities in transition, the Aztecs relied heavily on hot shooting from Xavier Thames and Dwayne Polee and as a team only totaled three assists for the game.

Thames and Polee refused to allow San Diego State to give in, but every bucket they made was answered by Johnson.

In the end Johnson finished 2-12 from the field and 10-10 from the free throw line with 15 points all in the final three minutes as the Wildcats prevailed in a nail-biter, 70-64.

[tps_title]Tennessee vs Michigan[/tps_title]


The question headed into this game was how would Tennessee’s dominance in the paint compare with Michigan’s ability to shoot the 3 proficiently? Both teams played to their strengths as Tennessee made 20 of their 30 field goals in the paint and Michigan connected on 11 of 20 3-point attempts.

But it was only enough to take these teams so far as this one finished in wild fashion

Michigan held a 10-point advantage at the half and was able to extend that lead to 15 with less than 11 minutes to play. It looked as if the Wolverines would pull away, but Tennessee would not go quietly into the night.

The Volunteers used their stout interior defense to limit Michigan’s opportunities at the rim, collecting eight team blocks as a result.

Jordan McRae used his slashing and scoring ability to pull Tennessee within seven with four minutes to play. After a Nik Stauskas three put the Michigan lead back up to 10, McRae and company kicked their defense into overdrive forcing four turnovers and limiting the Wolverines to one field goal in the last 90 seconds.

McRae scored eight points for the Volunteers pulling them within five and settling them in for a crazy finish. McRae got the ball off a Michigan turnover and hit a layup to trim the Michigan lead down to one point at 72-71.

When Michigan inbounded the ball to Chris LeVert as he ran toward the baseline, he accidently stepped out of bounds, turning the ball back over to Tennessee with 10 seconds remaining.

The Volunteers inbounded the ball to Jarnell Stokes on the block. As Stokes posted up on Jordan Morgan, he threw his shoulder into the Wolverine big man drawing an unfathomable whistle for charging.

That turned the ball over to Michigan and Tennessee was forced to foul Stauskas on the inbound. Stauskas, the Big Ten player-of-the-year, hit his first free throw and missed his second.

Tennessee rebounded, but with no time-outs remaining, could only muster a desperate heave that flew over the backboard as time expired.

Michigan had escaped mostly due to their hot 3-point and free-throw shooting. The Wolverines will have to protect the ball better if they hope to advance to their second Final Four in as many years.

[tps_title]Connecticut vs Iowa State[/tps_title]


In a battle of teams few expected to be there, Iowa State took on Connecticut at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Iowa State had been riding their offense through the opening rounds of the tournament while the Huskies relied on stellar point guard play from Shabazz Napier.

UConn opened the game up firing from 3-point range. Napier and guard Ryan Boatwright combined for six 3s in the opening 12 minutes as the Huskies jumped out to a 25-16 advantage.

Dustin Hogue and DeAndre Kane kept the Cyclones in the game, combining for 17 points as the Huskies took a 10-point lead to halftime.

In the second half, DeAndre Daniels asserted himself scoring 19 of his team-high 27 points. The Huskies held a 16-point advantage with 7:42 remaining when Dustin Hogue went to work for the Cyclones.

Hogue scored 24 of his 34 points in the second half and Hogue and Kane again fueled an Iowa State comeback. Kane hit Naz Long for a corner 3-pointer that cut the UConn lead to 67-63 with 2:20 remaining.

UConn answered with a 3 of their own from Niels Giffey to go back up seven, and from there the Huskies were able to close it out for an 81-76 victory.

The Huskies' ability to get into the lane and draw fouls, and their ability to hit free throws, was a large factor in this one. UConn hit on 20-22 free throw attempts, compared to Iowa State which struggled at the line, hitting on a mere 6-15 attempts.

[tps_title]Kentucky vs Louisville[/tps_title]


In what was the most talked about matchup of the Sweet 16, in-state rivals Kentucky and Louisville squared off for more than just bragging rights in the Bluegrass State.

For Louisville, it was a chance to return to the Elite Eight and extend coach Rick Pitino’s record in Sweet 16 games to 12-0.

For Kentucky, it was an opportunity to return to the final eight for the second time in three years and continue an improbable run with a talented group of freshmen.

The game started with Louisville’s talented guards making their imprint on the game early. Russ Smith and Luke Hancock combined for 11 of the Cardinals' first 18 points as Louisville ran out to a 18-5 lead.

In the opening minutes, Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein went down with an ankle injury and was not able to return to action. The talented sophomore’s presence in the paint on the defensive end was missed as Louisville penetrated with impunity in the first half.

The Wildcats were able to regroup, and Julius Randle and Aaron Harrison brought Kentucky back to one point of the Cardinals before a Russ Smith jumper gave Louisville the 34-31 halftime lead.

In the second half, the length advantage that Kentucky possessed across all positions started to wear down the Cardinals on the boards.

Mangok Mathiang did his best to keep pace with Kentucky’s bigs in the paint, but Julius Randle and company thoroughly out rebounded Louisville 37-29. The second half was much like a prize fight with each competitor taking their chance at the knockout blow.

Over a one-and-a-half minute stretch of the second half the teams traded dunks and jump shots combining for 14 points in a flurry of baskets.

Dakari Johnson had nine of his 15 points in the second half for the Wildcats, but it was Luke Hancock’s 10 consecutive points that brought Louisville’s lead to seven with 4:30 left to play.

Kentucky was able to claw all the way back to the lead, thanks to heroics from Alex Poythress. The sophomore scored six points as part of an 8-0 Kentucky run that gave the Wildcats the lead with 1:27 remaining.

Russ Smith hit another jumper to briefly regain the lead for Louisville, but he was answered by an Aaron Harrison 3-pointer that would give Kentucky the lead for good with 40 seconds to play.

The teams exchanged free throws, and fittingly it was Aaron Harrison’s made pair with two seconds remaining that iced the game for the youngins from Lexington.

Kentucky showed a lot of poise down the stretch, hitting their free throws and protecting the basketball in the face of Louisville’s fantic defense.

This team is gelling at the right time and will be riding a wave of momentum heading into the Elite Eight.

[tps_title]Michigan State vs Virginia[/tps_title]


There were games earlier in the tournament that featured low scoring and poor shooting.

The difference between those games and this game was that in this game, the two teams played as good on the defensive end as you are going to see in college basketball.

It was Virginia that was noted for its defensive abilities throughout the season, holding opponents to a mere 55.7 points per contest, the lowest in the nation.

Thus far in the tournament, Michigan State had yielded an average of 75 points per game to its two opponents, Delaware and Harvard. But on this night, the Spartans were able to control the game with their defense.

Michigan State held on to the lead for most of the first half thanks to Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson who combined for 18 points in the first half as the Spartans took a 31-27 lead into halftime.

Virginia came out of the locker room in the second half with a renewed commitment to defense. The Cavaliers forced the Spartans into five turnovers in the first seven minutes of the half, going on an 11-3 run to take the lead, 38-34.

Branden Dawson was the only scorer for Michigan State over a nine-and-a-half minute period before a thunderous Adreian Payne dunk brought Sparty out of their funk.

A Travis Trice 3-pointer gave Michigan State a 43-40 lead with a little more than nine minutes remaining. Joe Harris was the only Cavalier able to solve the Michigan State defense for a four-minute stretch, scoring six in a row for Virginia.

A Branden Dawson dunk put Michigan State up five with 53 seconds to play, but it was immediately followed by a Joe Harris 3 that gave Virginia life. The two teams traded free throws as the Cavaliers found themselves down four with two seconds left when Malcolm

Brogdon hit another three to cut the lead to one. Virginia fouled Gary Harris on the inbound and the Michigan State star hit one free throw before Virginia’s last attempt fell short at the buzzer sounded.

Michigan State won this battle, 61-59.


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