• Texas Tech was even more impressive in beating No. 2 Michigan by 19 points after coasting through the second half, a game after ousting No. 6 Buffalo by 20 points. With an expected NBA lottery pick in Jarrett Culver and a ferocious defense, the Red Raiders look like a very tough out for any team left, starting with Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.
• So, yeah, that general lack of offense. The Wolverines were the worst offender, scoring a tournament record-low 16 points in the first half and missing 18 of 19 three-pointers for the game, but Virginia and Oregon weren’t much better in their 53-49 rock fight. Given that their game and Michigan-Texas Tech were the two late contests Thursday, that made for a brutal double-bill for hoops fans who decided to stay up. At least the Cavs and Ducks gave us a close ending, so there’s that.
• Friday was already set to be the glamour night of the Sweet 16, with the pedigreed likes of Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Michigan State in action, but after the four games Thursday, those aforementioned hoops fans must be positively starved for some high-level action. Of course, it will be up to Virginia Tech, Houston, Auburn and LSU to hold up their respective ends of the bargain, if we are to see some exciting finishes — would it kill this tourney to provide a buzzer-beater? — but they can’t do any worse than Michigan did, right? Dear lord, let’s hope not.
Schedule and results
Game times and TV information. All times Eastern.
Washington, D.C. (East Region)
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 LSU, 7:09 p.m., CBS
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech, approx. 9:39 p.m., CBS
Kansas City, Mo. (Midwest Region)
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Auburn, 7:29 p.m., TBS
No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Houston, approx. 9:59 p.m., TBS
Anaheim, Calif. (West Region)
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 6:09 p.m., TBS
Louisville (South Region)
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 3 Purdue, 8:49 p.m., TBS
Anaheim, Calif. (West Region)
Louisville (South Region)
In-game highlights and recaps
Cavaliers outlast Ducks to advance to Elite Eight
It wasn’t pretty, but when is it ever for Virginia? The South’s top seed survived a feisty upset effort by No. 12 Oregon, 53-49, and advanced to the Elite Eight, where the Cavs will face No. 3 Purdue.
Virginia, which led the nation in scoring defense, leaned on what it does best in stifling the Ducks, who hit just 17 of 45 shots (37.8 percent), including nine of 25 three-pointers. For their part, the Cavs made just nine of 33 attempts from long range, but they had more rebounds (34-31) and fewer turnovers (8-11) which may have made the difference in a tight contest.
Michigan goes gently into that good night
Well, at least it's over for the Wolverines. Oh, and they managed to hit a three-pointer!
Michigan made its first and only trey of the game, somewhat laughably, with just 24 seconds left, having gone 0-for-18 before that from long range against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were never threatened in the second half, as they turned a 24-16 halftime lead into a surprisingly easy, 63-44 win.
Texas Tech moved to the second Elite Eight appearance in program history, with the first coming just last year. The school is seeking its first Final Four berth, but the third-seeded squad will have to get past No. 1 Gonzaga to represent the West region.
Jarrett Culver, widely expected to become a lottery pick in June’s NBA draft, led the Red Raiders with 22 points, while teammate Davide Moretti added 15. In a dismal offensive display, including an NCAA tournament record-low 16 points in the first half, Michigan shot 32.7 percent overall and had far more turnovers (14) than assists (9).
With 12:23 left in the game, Virginia’s Kyle Guy made his first three-point shot at the KFC Yum! Center. He was 0-for-8 in three career roads games at Louisville, and he started 0-for-5 on Thursday at the Cardinals’ home arena (via ESPN’s Jeff Borzello). Guy had also been in an 0-17 slump from long range, at any venue.
Double techs shake up Virginia-Oregon
With Oregon having cut Virginia’s lead to just one point with under 14 minutes left, technical fouls were called on both the Cavs’ Mamadi Diakite and the Ducks’ Ehab Amin. They exchanged words, and Diakite appeared to get into Amin’s face and make slight head-to-head contact, to which Amin responded with a flop.
Purdue’s Edwards in good company
With his 29 points against Tennessee, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards became the first player to score at least 25 in four straight NCAA men’s tournament games since Davidson’s Stephen Curry in 2007 and 2008. As with Curry, Edwards has needed two tournaments to get it done — although he has a chance to go four-for-four in this one — starting with a 30-point outing in a loss to Texas Tech in last year’s Sweet 16.
Edwards, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, preceded Thursday’s performance against the Vols with 26 points versus Old Dominion and 42 against Villanova. He’ll likely have to work for another 25 points in his next game, in which he’ll face the stingy defense of either Virginia or Oregon.
Virginia extends lead at the half
Virginia managed just 30 points by halftime, but that was good for an eight-point lead over Oregon, a 12-seed looking to topple a No. 1. Ty Jerome led the Cavs with eight points, while Ehab Amin posted the same amount for the Ducks.
The Cavs have been good when up at the half this season. So good, in fact, that the Ducks may want to start worrying.
Michigan just can’t score
A 16-point deficit in the second half would be a major problem for most teams but it may well be a disaster for the Wolverines in light of the fact that they haven’t been able to, you know, score points. Texas Tech had a 24-16 lead at halftime and pushed it to a 36-18 advantage with just under 16 minutes to play.
That’s more than enough time for Michigan to stage a comeback, but the clock is less of an issue than the Red Raiders’ defense. On offense, Texas Tech has been led by Davide Moretti’s 13 points, while Ignas Brazdeikis has paced his squad with six, on 2-of-7 shooting.
Not to be outdone by the offense-deprived slugfest between Michigan and Texas Tech, Virginia and Oregon slogged to a 10-10 tie through 12 minutes of the first half., before the Ducks went on a 6-0 run and the Cavs missed 15 of 16 field goal attempts. The Cavaliers ranked first in scoring defense on the season, followed by the Wolverines and Red Raiders, with the Ducks 12th, so the struggles to put balls in hoops could have been expected.
Nevertheless, the pair of concurrent contests could not have made for the greatest viewing experience, particularly after the excitement of Purdue’s 99-94, overtime win against Tennessee. On the bright side, the inability of any squad in the late games to score an appreciable amount of points meant that at least one more overtime session might be likely. Okay, that’s really stretching the definition of “bright side.”
Through 14 minutes, Virginia had made just 5 of 22 shots, scoring 13 points but only falling behind by three points with Oregon also struggling. The 12th-seeded Ducks were seeking a major upset that would make them the first team in the tournament to oust a No. 1 seed.
Ugly numbers mar Michigan-Texas Tech
The Wolverines hit just 7 of 25 shots from the field in the first half, including 0 of 9 from three-point range. At least the team’s 16 points were well-distributed, with four players each notching four points.
Texas Tech wasn't much better, hitting 10 of 28 shots, 2 of 8 from behind the arc. Red Raiders star Jarrett Culver missed seven of his 11 attempts, but his eight points led all players, with teammate Davide Moretti just behind with seven points.
Michigan had never scored so few points in any half in any game. The team has as many turnovers, seven, as made field goals and more personal fouls, three, than made free throws (two).
Michigan basketball getting the football treatment
With Michigan putting up just 16 points in the first half against Texas Tech, which itself scored just 24, more than a few folks online saw fit to make some football-related jokes. Specifically, there were a bunch posted at the expense of Wolverines football head coach Jim Harbaugh, whose offense was less than explosive in 2018.
The game is indeed low-scoring: Michigan’s first-half total of 16 points was a record for the NCAA tournament. The previous record, 18, was set by Holy Cross — in 1948.
Michigan, Texas Tech off to glacial shooting start
In what was far from a surprising development, Michigan and Texas Tech could each only muster six points over the first 9:30 of their game. Both teams specialize in stifling opposing offenses, with the Red Raiders and Wolverines ranking one and two, respectively, in adjusted defensive rating (per kenpom.com)
CBS forced into audible at Michigan-Texas Tech
A power outage affecting the CBS telecast of Michigan-Texas Tech in Anaheim temporarily caused the network to throw it to their studio analysts rather than their on-site announcing team while the game was unfolding in the early minutes. The issue was resolved fairly quickly, but CBS did not initially have its full complement of camera angles, and some viewers complained online that they were deprived of seeing Charles Barkley continue to filibuster while the technical difficulties were addressed.
Tennessee first top 3 seed out
The ending was a teensy bit anticlimactic, as Purdue slowly pulled away at the free throw line in overtime and we’re still waiting for our first buzzer-beating, game-winning shot of the NCAA tournament. But the Boilermakers’ win over Tennessee offered plenty of Madness, especially down the stretch in regulation with a scintillating stretch featuring clutch threes, dunks and defensive gems.
The Vols became the first top-three seed to lose in the tournament and their loss threw a jolt into brackets across the country. It helped the drama that college basketball fans did not have another game to distract them from the late second half and overtime, given that Gonzaga’s decidedly less scintillating win over Florida State was the first game to start and finish.
In his previous 13 seasons as head coach of Purdue, Matt Painter had taken the Boilermakers to the NCAA tournament but never made it past the Sweet 16 before Thursday. It wasn’t easy, but No. 3 Purdue prevailed in overtime over No. 2 Tennessee, 99-94.
The Vols had been living dangerously, blowing a 25-point lead in their previous game before winning in overtime. They became the first team since 2011 to go to overtime in two straight NCAA tournament contests, and this time they were not able to make enough plays.
Boilermakers star Carsen Edwards led all players with 28 points, but teammate Ryan Cline made headlines by scoring a career-high 27 points, including 22 after halftime. Tennessee's standout tandem of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield topped their team with 21 points each, but it wasn't enough.
Painter and the Boilermakers were knocked out in the Sweet 16 in each of the past two seasons, and four times overall in his tenure with the school. They have all the more reason to celebrate a huge victory, giving them their first trip to the Elite Eight since 2000, where they will face the winner of a game between No. 1 Virginia and No. 12 Oregon.
Vols’ Williams starts OT on the bench; Turner injured
Tennessee star Grant Williams, who played the final eight minutes of regulation with four fouls, was on the bench to start overtime. Williams, the two-time SEC player of the year, had 18 points, 7 rebounds and four assists.
The Vols’ Lamonte Turner was later injured on a shot attempt, on which he was fouled. He was ruled unable to take his free throws, so Tennessee sent senior forward Kyle Alexander to the line. Alexander hit both to cut a three-point Purdue lead to one, with 3:39 left in overtime, which the Vols also played in last weekend against Iowa.
Edwards’s free throws send game to overtime
Tennessee needed overtime to vanquish a Big Ten opponent in the previous round, and it’ll need a repeat performance in the Sweet 16. After taking out Iowa in the extra session, the Vols will have to subdue a feisty Purdue squad. The Boilermakers led for much of the game, but the Vols reclaimed the lead with under six minutes left. It was back-and-forth after that, as Purdue’s Ryan Cline hit a number of huge shots, while Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield, who had been struggling, sprang to life.
With Purdue down two and 1.5 seconds left, Carsen Edwards was fouled on a three-point attempt. He had a chance to give his team the lead but missed the first free throw. Suddenly facing enormous pressure just to tie the game, the Boilermakers’ star scorer made the next two, knotting the score at 82-82.
After getting within four points of Gonzaga with just over four minutes to go, Florida State went cold from the field and Gonzaga pushed its lead back to double digits. It helped that, after missing the front end of a pair of one-and-ones a few minutes earlier that helped the Seminoles make things tight, the Bulldogs began hitting their free throws down the stretch. Gonzaga ended the game on a 12-2 run and became the first team to reach the Elite Eight, where it awaits the winner of a game between Michigan and Texas Tech.
Well, it WAS a 17-point lead for Purdue. Then Tennessee started to get its act together, and with just under eight minutes left, a Lamonte Turner layup trimmed the Vols’ deficit to just three points. We may have an exciting finish yet in Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.
Zags can’t shake Seminoles
Florida State began to eat into Gonzaga’s lead by disrupting the Bulldogs’ offense. With just over six minutes left, the Bulldogs had 14 turnovers to just nine assists, this from the team that had No. 1 assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76) in the nation.
At one point, the Seminoles cut the Bulldogs’ margin to just five points, led by junior guard Trent Forrest, who had 15 points and three steals.
Seminoles’ depth being tested
With over 14 minutes left in the game, Florida State’s 7-foot-4 senior center, Christ Koumadje, picked up his fourth foul. That sent him to the bench but the Seminoles, known for their length and depth, were able to bring in a very effective reserve in Mfiondu Kabengele. Still, the loss of Koumadje left some room near the rim for Gonzaga, which quickly took advantage with a pair of dunks.
Big Ten still haunting Vols
In its previous game, Tennessee took a huge lead over Big Ten squad Iowa before allowing an equally big comeback, then prevailing in overtime. Now it’s the South Region’s No. 2 seed which must stage a major rally against another Big Ten team, third-seeded Purdue.
The Boilermakers took a 40-28 lead to the locker room, outplaying the Vols in a number of areas, including a 55.2-37.0 edge in field goal percentage. Tennessee also made just 4 of 13 free throws, including missing a pair after something of a gift call with just 1.5 second left.
The Boilermakers were equally bad from the free throw line, but their 1-of-5 mark wasn’t as damaging and their scoring star, Carsen Edwards, came through with 15 points. The Vols’ standout tandem of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield combined for just nine, including only one point from Schofield.
Zags, perfect when leading at the half, lead at the half
Gonzaga ended a big first half against Florida State a near-perfect note. The Bulldogs’ Josh Perkins stole the ball and swooped in for a layup and a foul with one second left. The senior guard hit his free throw to give Gonzaga a 38-27 halftime lead, but he was also hit with a technical foul, as was the Seminoles’ M.J. Walker from some jawing and a bit of physicality after the play.
The CBS announcing crew was unimpressed with the officials’ decision to hand out those fouls for what they deemed fairly innocuous behavior, but the Bulldogs could certainly be pleased with how the first 19 minutes and 59 seconds unfolded. Gonzaga didn’t shoot very well, hitting just 40,5 percent of its shots, but they hounded FSU into missing 20 of its 30 attempts.
Gonzaga is 28-0 this season when leading at the half.
Perkins shared the scoring lead (10 points) with teammate Rui Hachimura. Reserve players P.J. Savoy and Mfiondu Kabengele led FSU with six points each.
Even their shoes are slowing the Vols
Adding to Tennessee’s early issues was something of a wardrobe malfunction for Jordan Bowen. The junior guard lost his shoe while on defense, and had to have one tossed to him from the sideline. Meanwhile, Purdue was socking it to the Vols, taking a 26-18 lead late in the first half.
Seminoles stand with teammate
As they did in their second-round game against Murray State, Florida State players wore patches with “MC” on their jerseys. They were honoring Mike Cofer, the father of Seminoles forward Phil Cofer as well as an ex-NFL player in his own right, who died a week ago at the age of 58.
FSU was playing Vermont in a first-round matchup at the time, and Phil Cofer did not learn that his father had passed away until after that game. He was not with the team Thursday for its game against Gonzaga, opting instead to be with his family in Georgia.
“We have to turn this into whatever positive we can,” Seminoles Coach Leonard Hamilton said earlier this week, “and dedicate our minds, our spirits and everything else we have to go out and demonstrate the love and respect we have for Phil’s family and him by how we represent him and the school at this moment.”