Dayton vs Florida


Dayton came into this matchup with all the confidence in the world and did not blink when staring down a Florida team seeking its 30th straight win and their first Elite Eight win in three consecutive tries. Checkout the best final four odds at Bet Phoenix Sportsbook

The Flyers matched the Gators shot-for-shot in the first few minutes before Florida gained separation on back-to-back layups by Patrick Young.

Florida honed in on Flyers center Matt Kavanaugh, denying him entry passes and doubling him immediately when he did get the ball on the block.

Dayton relied on their outside shooting to hang with Florida through the first half, hitting on four attempts from distance, taking the lead on a Scoochie Smith 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining in the half.

That is when Florida went to work. They outhustled the Flyers in the paint to the tune of a 9-5 rebounding advantage and two blocks in the last seven minutes of the half.

The Gators went on a 19-4 run to end the half, including 11 points from guard Scottie Wilbekin to lead 38-24 at the break.

Dayton got back in the game with two consecutive 3-pointers from Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierre to start the second half. The Gators pushed their lead back up to 17 thanks to dogged defense, at one point forcing three Dayton turnovers in less than a minute of game action.

Dyshawn Pierre was not about to allow his team to go without a fight. Pierre scored 11 in a row for the Flyers.

Unfortunately for Dayton, they turned out to be the last 11 points the Flyers would score in the game. Florida was just too strong for Dayton down the stretch, allowing the Flyers only four points in the final four minutes.

Wilbekin finished with a game-high 23 points while Dyshawn Pierre led the Flyers with 18.

Florida’s 62-52 victory gave them their fourth consecutive double-digit win in the tournament. Five of the last six teams to win each of their first four games by double-digits went on to win the national championship.

Wisconsin vs Arizona


Frank Kaminsky.

The name sounds more like a grizzled detective from a noir novel than a lanky collegiate basketball player. But Kaminsky has come to play for Wisconsin in the tournament scoring 19 points in each of the Badgers’ last two wins, seven points above his season points-per-game average of 12.

Wisconsin needed everything from Kaminsky in their Elite Eight face-off with the No. 1 seed Arizona Wildcats.

This was a game for the grinders with neither team shooting better than 40 percent from the field. Arizona jumped out to a 12-5 lead thanks to balanced scoring.

Four Wildcats contributed for the 12 points before Frank Kaminsky scored in the paint and followed it up with a rare 3-pointer to get the Badgers within two. Following a Jordin Mayes jumper, the Wildcats went on an 8-2 run to lead 19-12 midway through the first half.

To say that freshman phenom Aaron Gordon struggled with his shot in this contest would be a vast understatement. Gordon shot 76 percent in the paint through the first three games of the tournament, missing only three layups in the process.

On this evening, the length of the Wisconsin bigs definitely bothered Gordon. The freshman went 2-9 in the paint on Saturday, missing six shots at the rim.

After scoring eight points in the first half, Kaminsky came out in the second half and put his team on his back with 14 second half points, including seven in the first four minutes of the final half. Kaminsky tied the game at 32 with his second 3-point field goal of the game.

Arizona limited the Badgers to one shot per possession on six of seven possessions in the middle part of the half, with Aaron Gordon leading the way in cleaning the glass for the Wildcats. Gordon finished the game with a beastly 18 rebounds.

Nick Johnson scored seven points in a row for Arizona as the Wildcats clinged to a one-point lead with less than five minutes to play. It was a battle down the stretch with the teams trading baskets to the very end.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did everything for the Wildcats. In the last four minutes, the springy forward collected two key rebounds, had a block in a tied game and had a dunk with 36 seconds left to tie things up at 54.

Wisconsin had one last shot with two seconds left, but Traevon Jackson missed the jumper. It was the seventh overtime game of this year’s edition of the tournament, tied for the record for most overtime games in a single tournament.

Ben Brust and Aaron Gordon traded 3s to start the extra period. Frank Kaminsky added four points in the overtime period before getting a tip-in to fall with 1:13 left to put the Badgers up, 64-61. Jordin Mayes had a tip-in of his own to pull Arizona within one with a minute left.

T.J. McConnell missed a jumper for Arizona with 13 seconds left, but was able to collect his own rebound and kick the ball out to Nick Johnson.

In what will be a much talked about call in Arizona lore, Johnson pushed off of Josh Gasser to gain a bit of separation and was called for an offensive foul.

The call gave the ball to Wisconsin, but Gasser tipped the ball out of bounds giving the Wildcats one last shot at advancing with three seconds left. Nick Johnson got the ball but was pressured by the Wisconsin defense and wasn’t able to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.

Frank Kaminsky finished the game in dominant fashion, having 28 points and 11 rebounds. 

Michigan State vs UConn


This matchup of two of the nation’s elite basketball programs did not disappoint as streaky basketball led to an exciting finish.

UConn opened the game playing like their hair was on fire on both ends of the floor. The Huskies opened up a 12-2 lead by forcing four Spartan turnovers in the first six minutes of play.

Michigan State didn’t help themselves too much on the offensive end when they weren’t turning the ball over either, connecting on only one of their nine field goal attempts in the first eight minutes. They were 8-15 in the final 12 minutes.

The buckets that helped the Spartans crawl out of the hole cam in transition. UConn was packing the paint against Michigan State, and the Spartans responded by taking what the Huskies were giving them.

They hit four 3-pointers in transition in the first half. A Garry Harris 3 with less than four minutes left in the first half gave the Spartans their first lead of the game at 22-21.

UConn could not buy a bucket toward the end of the half as Michigan State held them scoreless in the final five minutes. UConn started game 5-8 from the field and finished half 3-21. Meanwhile, the Spartans finished the half on a 9-0 run to lead 25-21 at the half

Nearly three minutes into the second half, the Huskies found themselves down nine when Adreian Payne connected on a jumper.

The Huskies again turned up the defense, and again the intensity flustered Michigan State forcing five turnovers from the Spartans in first 10 minutes of the second half. UConn proceeded to go on a 12-0 run to lead by three, 35-32.

A Ryan Boatwright 3 extended the UConn lead to 10 with 6:15 to play. Michigan State answered with two 3s of their own—one by Denzel Valentine and another from Gary Harris—to cut the lead to four with five minutes to play.

Keith Appling once again got a big bucket in the tournament, hitting a circus shot off the glass to pull Michigan State within two.

Shabazz Napier answered for UConn with a jumper of his own. When Adreian Payne was fouled in the lane, he connected on both free throws to trim the Huskies lead to 53-51.

That is when Shabazz Napier, who has done it for UConn all year and led the team to this moment, was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Keith Appling with 30 seconds remaining. The senior Appling fouled out and Napier hit all three attempts effectively, sealing the victory for the Huskies

Napier finished the game with 28 points, and DeAndre Daniels dominated the interior for the Huskies with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks as UConn allowed Michigan State only six points in the paint.

For Tom Izzo, it was the first set of Michigan State seniors whom he has failed to lead to a Final Four. Meanwhile, nobody expected UConn to make it to April. The Huskies became the first team since 1984 to make the Final Four as a seven-seed.

They’ll need a little more magic in the Final Four when they face Florida.

Kentucky vs Michigan


Michigan took advantage Kentucky early in this game due to the absence of Willie Cauley-Stein. They did so by scoring frequently in the paint. MICH starts the game connecting on five of their first 10 shots to open up a 14-6 lead.

Marcus Lee finished at the rim with three thunderous put-back dunks, and Andrew Harrison completed a three-point play off a driving layup to pull Kentucky within one point at 18-17.

Stauskas keyed the offense for Michigan early, scoring 15 of Michigan’s first 32 points as the Wolverines opened up a 10-point lead with a little over five minutes to play in the half. Each team shot better than 50 percent from the field in the first half.

When Marcus Lee collected his fourth put-back dunk of the game, it put Kentucky back within two at 32-30. Julius put an exclamation mark on Kentucky’s 15-5 run to close the half when he hit baby hook shot in the lane as time expired in the half, tying the game at 37.

Kentucky got its first lead of the game on its first bucket in the second half when Julius Randle hit a shot in the paint. That got things rolling for Kentucky on the offensive end.

The Wildcats went on a little run that was capped by an Alex Poythress layup that extended their lead to six before Caris LeVert’s jumper brought Michigan within four once more.

Kentucky went on an 11-0 run over 5:30 minutes before Glenn Robinson III hit a three from the corner to cut the Wildcat lead to four.

Michigan again pulled within one on a Morgan three-point play before Aaron Harrison answered with a three of his own with three-and-a-half minutes remaining..

The two teams continued to go up and down in this fashion, with Aaron Harrison hitting another 3 to extend the Kentucky lead to five. Michigan responded with a 3 of their own from Glenn Robinson III. The Wildcats maintained an two point advantage into the final minute.

Michigan feverishly tried to take the lead with a 3. WIth less than 40 seconds left, Michigan tried to get a quick bucket in the lane but missed. The Wolverines collected the rebound and kicked it out to Stauskas for a 3, but he missed.

Michigan got the rebound again, this time sending it to the top of the key for another 3 attempt. It clanged off the iron, but Michigan was able to tip in the rebound to tie the game at 72 with 30 seconds remaining. After a Kentucky timeout, the Wildcats inbounded the ball.

Aaron Harrison ended up with the ball, and with less than 10 seconds to play, dribbled past a screen before pulling up from beyond the 3-point arc to hit an absolute dagger with 2.6 seconds left to put Kentucky up, 75-72. Michigan had one last chance, but Stauskas’ heave from mid-court was no good.

This was an epic battle with both teams playing their best basketball of the season. Kentucky is peaking at the right time and are now two wins away from another national championship.


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