When Sunday’s NCAA tournament activities close, the men’s Sweet 16 will be determined, while half the Sweet 16 field will be determined for the women.
Two No. 1 placers have already been knocked out on the men’s side, culminating in No. 1 Purdue’s stunning loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson. Now FDU wants 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 powerful mid-major who is 32-3 in the year following the dramatic victory over Memphis. But first, No. 11 Pitt and No. 3 Xavier get the party started at 12:10 a.m. ET on CBS.
The women’s action gets underway with the defending champions as No. 1 South Carolina tries to advance to 34-0 against South Florida (1 p.m. ET, ABC). Iowa standout Caitlin Clark next takes the national stage in the next game on ABC and her No. 2 Hawkeyes take on No. 10 Georgia.
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Xavier opens up a big lead at half time with attacking flourishes
In their Round of 64 win against No. 6 Iowa State, No. 11 Pittsburgh allowed 41 points in the entire game. In the Round of 32 it is a different story. No. 3 Xavier had scored 42 points by 5:01 … of the first half. The Musketeers have opened a 48-34 lead at the half on a torrid 19-of-36 performance (52.8%) from the field.
Much of the difference has been outside the arc, where Xavier has converted half of his 14 tries. 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 is right behind him and scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Panthers started hot, but then cooled off and were outscored by a 27-16 margin to close out the half. To make matters more concerning for Pittsburgh, Xavier guard Souley Boum, who led the Musketeers this season with 16.5 points per game, has yet to score a single point and is 0-for-6 from the field.
Action on Sunday
The first game of the day, a men’s class matchup between No. 11 Pittsburgh and No. 3 Xavier, was tipped just after noon Sunday. And if the offensive pace to begin with is any indication of what’s to come for the rest of the day, the score will show.
The Musketeers have been the leading scoring team in the Big East this season and have broken away from Pittsburgh midway through the first half, leading 28-18. Xavier went on a 14-3 run and shoots 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 shoots 7-of-16 from the field, with a 46.7% clip.
The matchup also provides an interesting bit of nostalgia and familiarity, as Xavier head coach Sean Miller played guard for the Panthers from 1987-92, starting 124 of the 128 games he played in.
This men’s tournament is really up for grabs
All season long, this promised to be the most open NCAA men’s tournament in a generation. The bluebloods weren’t so blue. The top-ranked teams had obvious shortcomings. The combination of an extra COVID year for senior players, an out-of-control transfer environment, and a crop of freshmen largely unready for prime time meant that the teams’ fortunes fluctuated from game to game, week after week, yo-yo. the.
Now here we are, almost done with the first weekend of March Madness, and there’s an important question: Who’s going to win the National Championship?
Maybe it’s better to say it another way. If you’re still alive in this crazy tournament on Sunday night, go ahead and dare to dream. Even you, Princeton. It’s really up for grabs.
– Dan Clouds
Double effort? Indiana and Miami go head-to-head in men’s and women’s play
No, you are not seeing double.
Indiana and Miami will play each other in the second round of both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The men’s game is Sunday night in Albany, New York, while the women’s teams compete in Bloomington, Indiana on Monday.
“That’s great. I mean, what a great situation,” said Miami women’s coach Katie Meier. “I know our athletic director was on a plane that also went back and forth with someone from Indiana.”
The NCAA has no record of how many times schools have played each other in each of the tournaments, let alone in the same round. But suffice it to say it hasn’t happened very often. Meier had been asked about the possibility of the double dip ahead of Saturday’s game, but she would not answer and curse herself. Good thing, because the Hurricanes fell behind by 17 before rallying to beat Oklahoma State.
Top-seeded Indiana had rolled earlier in the day, while the IU and Miami men’s teams both secured their spots on Friday.
“We’re looking forward to playing Indiana,” Meier said, “and hopefully the ‘Canes come out on top in two.”
– Nancy armor
Princeton men, women win first round matches in the same year, make Ivy history
This was a tournament to remember for the Ivy League, even before the men from Princeton reached the second round.
This is the first year that the Ivy’s teams have won first-round matches in both tournaments. A day after the Princeton men stunned Arizona, the tenth-seeded Princeton women upset NC State on Friday night with a three-pointer with seven seconds left.
“We watched (the men) in the dressing room right before practice,” said Julia Cunningham on Friday night. “Seeing them all the attention they get from the media, it was so well deserved. We looked at each other and thought, we’re next, now it’s our turn.
“It’s special,” she added. “A special week to be a Tiger.”
– Nancy armor
Ranking of Sunday’s matches
How many teams do you have in your Sweet 16? We’ll know who moves on after Sunday’s eight-game streak with some of the top seed still standing after a crazy and unpredictable start to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
But we’ll all be watching closely for the outlier as No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson looks to wind down Friday night’s historic upset of No. 1 Purdue with a second-round game against No. 9 Florida Atlantic.
However, keep this in mind: of the eight games played on Sunday, six have the highest possible seeds – No. 6 against No. 3, No. 5 against No. 4 and No. 7 against No. 2.
Here’s a list of Sunday’s games ranked by how good they are to watch:
1. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 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)
6. No. 7 Michigan State vs No. 2 Marquette (5:15)
7. number 5 Miami vs. No. 4 Indiana (8:40)
8. number 3 Xavier vs. No. 11 Pittsburgh (12:10)
Merrimack coach rooting for Fairleigh Dickenson
With their upset of Purdue as No. 1, the Knights gave the Northeast Conference its first NCAA men’s tournament first-round victory in four decades. But the Knights wouldn’t be here without Merrimack, which won the conference title but was ineligible due to its move to Division I—NCAA rules require a school to sit still for four years after such a move.
So Merrimack coach Joe Gallo and the rest of the team stayed home and watched Fairleigh Dickenson tear Purdue — and big man Zach Edey — apart. So is there jealousy among his northeastern enemies?
“To quote my 6-year-old, ‘Dad, we beat them, so we want them to win,'” Gallo told CBS Sports. “People have also been hard in our competition all year, so I’m happy with the win.”
– Heather Tucker
UMBC finds a friend on Twitter
The UMBC Twitter account finally has a best friend. It is the Twitter account of the Farleigh Dickinson men’s basketball team. What do they have in common? They both thrive on creating absolute chaos and breaking parentheses.
The UMBC Twitter account celebrated Fairleigh Dickinson’s victory over Purdue, which probably destroyed many men’s NCAA tournaments. The FDU Twitter account got wind of this and declared their new friendship together.
It would always be difficult for UMBC to find someone who understood. After all, it’s not often that you get a 16 seed interfering with a 1 seed. UMBC was the first men’s program to do it when it beat No. 1 Virginia in 2018. But if there’s anyone who understands the feeling, it’s FDU.
— Mike D. Sykes II, for the win
Latest poll of USA TODAY sports coaches
Houston entered the NCAA tournament ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports coaches’ poll despite losing in the American Athletic Conference championship game just before the unveiling of the braces last Sunday.
The Cougars, playing without leading scorer Marcus Sasser in the loss to Memphis, retained 21 of 32 No. 1 votes to fend off second-place Alabama. The Crimson Tide racked up eight firsts after impressively winning the SEC title.
Houston dealt Northern Kentucky in the first round and Auburn in the second round, while Alabama defeated Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the tournament opener. The Crimson Tide defeated No. 8 seed Maryland late on Saturday.
— Eddie Timanus