When Sunday’s NCAA Tournament business is done, the men’s Sweet 16 will be determined while the women’s will decide half of the Sweet 16 field.
Two No. 1 seeds have already been ousted on the men’s side, highlighted by No. 1 Purdue’s stunning loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson. Now FDU aims to do what no 16-seed has ever done: reach the Sweet 16.
The Knights will try to make it happen Sunday (7:45 p.m. ET, truTV) against Florida Atlantic, a mid-major powerhouse that is 32-3 on the year after a dramatic win over Memphis. But first, no. 11 Pitt and no. 3 Xavier get the party started at 12:10 PM ET on CBS.
Women’s action begins with the defending champions as No. 1 South Carolina tries to move to 34-0 against South Florida (1 p.m. ET, ABC). Iowa standout Caitlin Clark then takes the national stage in the next game on ABC, her No. 2 Hawkeye vs. No. 10 Georgia.
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Follow the madness: Latest men’s NCAA college basketball tournament results and schedule
MEN’S TOURNAMENT: Full results and schedule
TOURNAMENT FOR WOMEN: Full results and schedule
GAME ON SATURDAY: Make up for all male and female actions
Xavier opens up a big lead at halftime with an attacking momentum
In its Round of 16 win against No. 6 Iowa State, No. 11 Pittsburgh allowed a game-high 41 points. It’s a different story in the round of 16. No. 3 Xavier scored 42 points in the 5:01 … first half. The Musketeers opened up a 48-34 halftime lead on a hot 19-of-36 (52.8%) field goal performance.
One big part of the difference was from beyond the arc, where Xavier converted half of its 14 attempts. In particular, guard Adam Kunkel is on fire, going a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range, with a team-high 15 points. Forward Jack Nunge was right behind him, scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Panthers started out hot, but then cooled off, outscoring them by a 27-16 margin to close out the half. Making matters even more concerning for Pittsburgh, Xavier guard Souley Boum, who led the Musketeers with 16.5 points per game this season, has yet to score a single point and is 0-of-6 from the field.
Sunday action in progress
The first game of the day, a men’s division matchup between No. 11 Pittsburgh and No. 3 Xavier, began just after noon Sunday. And if the offensive rhythm early on is any indication of what’s to come the rest of the day, the scoring will be on display.
The Musketeers have been the leading scorer in the Big East this season and pulled away from Pittsburgh midway through the first half, opening up a 28-18 lead. Xavier went on a 14-3 run and is shooting 57.1% from the field on 12 of 21 attempts. Guard Colby Jones and forward Jack Nunge each have eight points to lead the Musketeers.
Pittsburgh is shooting 7-of-16 from the field, at a 46.7% clip.
The matchup also provides an interesting bit of nostalgia and familiarity as Xavier head coach Sean Miller played quarterback for the Panthers from 1987-92, where he started 124 of the 128 games he played in.
This men’s tournament is truly up for grabs
All season long, this promised to be the most wide-open men’s NCAA tournament in a generation. Blue bloods were not so blue. The first-placed teams had obvious shortcomings. The combination of an extra year of COVID for older players, an out-of-control transfer environment, and a slew of freshmen who were mostly not ready for prime time meant that teams’ fortunes changed from game to game, week to week.
Here we are, almost done with the first weekend of March Madness, and an important question must be asked: Who will win the national championship?
Perhaps it would be better to say it another way. If you’re alive in this crazy tournament by Sunday night, go ahead and dare to dream. Even you, Princeton. It’s really up for grabs.
– Dan Clouds
Double trouble? Indiana and Miami will face off in the men’s and women’s games
No, you are not seeing double.
Indiana and Miami will play each other in the second round of the men’s and women’s tournaments. The men’s game will be played Sunday night in Albany, New York, while the women’s teams will face off on Monday in Bloomington, Indiana.
“It’s great. I mean, what a great situation,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “I know our athletic director was also on the plane coming back with somebody from Indiana.”
The NCAA does not have data on how many times schools have played each other in each tournament, let alone in the same round. But suffice it to say, it doesn’t happen often. Meier was asked about the potential for a double dip ahead of Saturday’s game, but she didn’t want to answer and made a fool of herself. Good thing, because the Hurricanes trailed by 17 before they were able to beat Oklahoma State.
Top-ranked Indiana was eliminated earlier in the day, while the IU and Miami men’s teams secured their spots on Friday.
“We’re looking forward to playing Indiana,” Meier said, “and hopefully the Canes can win two.”
– Nancy Armor
Princeton men and women win first-round games in same year, make Ivy history
This was a tournament to remember for the Ivy League even before Princeton’s men reached the second round.
This is the first year that Ivy teams have won their opening games in both tournaments. A day after the Princeton men stunned Arizona, the 10th-seeded Princeton women upset NC State on Friday night with a 3-pointer with seven seconds left.
“We watched (the men) in the locker room right before practice,” Julia Cunningham said Friday night. “Watching them, all the coverage they get from the media, it’s well deserved. We looked at each other and thought, we’re next, now it’s our turn.
“He’s special,” she added. “A special week to be a Tiger.”
– Nancy Armor
Ranking of Sunday’s matches
How many teams will you have in your Sweet 16? We’ll know who advances after Sunday’s eight-game slate featuring some of the highest seeds still standing after a wild and unpredictable start to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
But we’ll all be paying close attention to the outstanding value, as No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson looks to build on a historic loss to No. 1 Purdue on Friday night with a second-round matchup against No. 9 Florida Atlantic.
Keep this in mind, though: Of the eight games played on Sunday, six feature the highest possible seeds — No. 6 vs. No. 3, No. 5 vs. No. 4 and No. 7 vs. No. 2.
Here’s a list of Sunday’s games, ranked by how watchable they are:
1. 16. Fairleigh Dickinson vs. 9. Florida Atlantic (7:45 p.m. ET)
2. number 5 Saint Mary’s vs. no. 4 Connecticut (6:10)
3. number 6 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas State (2:40)
4. number 3 Baylor vs. no. 6 Creighton (7:10)
5. number 3 Gonzaga vs. no. 6 TCU (9:40 a.m.)
6. number 7 Michigan State vs. no. 2 Marquette (5:15)
7. number 5 Miami vs. No. 4 Indiana (8:40 a.m.)
8. number 3 Xavier against no. 11 Pittsburgh (12:10 p.m.)
– Paul Myerberg
Merrimack coach cheers for Fairleigh Dickenson
With the loss of top-seeded Purdue, the Knights gave the Northeast Conference its first NCAA Men’s Tournament first-round win in four decades. But the Knights wouldn’t be here without Merrimack, which won the conference title but was ineligible for it due to its move to Division I — NCAA rules require a school to sit out four years after such a move.
So Merrimack coach Joe Gallo and the rest of the team stayed home and watched Fairleigh Dickenson pick Purdue – and big man Zach Edey – apart. So is there jealousy among his North Eastern enemies?
“To quote my 6-year-old, ‘Dad, we beat them, so we want them to win,'” Gallo told CBS Sports. “People have been hard on our league all year, too, so I’m happy for the win.”
– Heather Tucker
UMBC finds a friend on Twitter
The UMBC Twitter account finally has a best friend. This is the Twitter account for the Farleigh Dickinson men’s basketball team. What do they have in common? Both thrive on creating absolute chaos and breaking brackets.
The UMBC Twitter account celebrated Fairleigh Dickinson’s win over Purdue, which likely destroyed many of the men’s NCAA Tournament brackets. The FDU Twitter account got wind of this and announced their new mutual friendship.
UMBC will always have a hard time finding someone who understands that. After all, it’s not often you get a 16 seed to upset a 1 seed. UMBC was the first men’s program to do so when it unseated Virginia in 2018. But if anyone understands that feeling, it’s FDU.
— Mike D. Sykes II, For the win
The final USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll
Houston entered the NCAA Tournament with the No. 1 seed in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll, despite losing in the American Athletic Conference championship game just before the bracket was revealed last Sunday.
The Cougars, who were without leading scorer Marcus Sasser in the loss to Memphis, retained 21 of 32 votes for the No. 1 to hold off second-ranked Alabama. The Crimson Tide picked up eight firsts after winning the SEC title in impressive fashion.
Houston defeated Northern Kentucky in its first-round game and Auburn in its second-round game, while Alabama defeated Texas A&M Corpus Christi in its tournament opener. The Crimson Tide knocked off No. 8 seed Maryland late on Saturday.