Dayton upset Syracuse, UConn shock Villanova
Dayton coach Archie Miller almost didn't want to look.
Syracuse star freshman point guard Tyler Ennis was open at the top of the key with 2 seconds left and the Flyers holding a two-point lead. When Ennis' attempt to win the game clanged harmlessly off the rim, Dayton had a victory it had been chasing for three decades.
"We have a good programme with great tradition," Miller said Saturday night (local time) after Dayton defeated Syracuse 55-53 in the NCAA tournament to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. "Now, we have the ability to build, and that's what it's all about."
Ennis had beaten Pittsburgh last month with a 40-foot shot at the buzzer, so he had the confidence to try again, even though Syracuse had missed all nine attempts from behind the arc against the pesky Flyers.
"The last shot was a great shot. It was the right play," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "A chance to win the game. You don't have enough time to get to the basket. I have no problem with that shot."
Neither did the 35-year-old Miller, though he probably aged just a little bit while the ball was in the air.
"That thing was on line and he went for the win," Miller said. "The thing that went through my head was the game at Pitt, when I saw that highlight 7000 times when he banged the 3. I thought he was going to go to the basket. When I saw him raise up, I didn't feel good about it. But Buffalo's been good to us these last couple of days on the buzzer shots."
It sure has.
Vee Sanford's basket with 3.8 seconds left was the margin of victory in Dayton's one-point win over in-state rival Ohio State on Thursday (local time). After that game, the Dayton Daily News mocked Buckeyes fans who refer to "The Ohio State University" with a headline that read: "THE University of Dayton."
Dayton (25-10), the 11th seed in the South, now advances to the regional semifinals next week against No 2 seed Kansas or 10th-seeded Stanford.
Syracuse was in position to pull this one out, but Ennis also missed a foul-line jumper with 8 seconds left. He was down in the subdued locker room, with red faces all around, but confident he had made the right decision as he had so many times in a standout season.
The third-seeded Orange (28-6), who finished second in their first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, struggled all game against the swarming Dayton defense. They missed all 10 attempts from beyond the arc, while the Flyers hit seven times from long range.
It was the first time in 665 games that Syracuse failed to make a 3.
UCONN STUN VILLANOVA
In a span of three days, Shabazz Napier and Connecticut knocked out both Philadelphia schools in the NCAA tournament.
Now, the seventh-seeded Huskies are off to the East Regional semifinals in New York City to see how much more bracket busting they can do a year after being barred from the postseason because of academic sanctions.
Second-seeded Villanova became the highest seed to fall so far after Napier scored 25 points in leading UConn to a 77-65 victory on Saturday night (local time).
"I guess it means something to you guys but at the end of the day, just because they're No 2 and we're No 7, they don't get extra points to start the game off," Napier said. "Everybody's the same."
UConn was better thanks to Napier, who scored 24 points two days earlier in an 89-81 overtime win against Philadelphia's other tournament entry, Saint Joseph's.
Napier had 21 points in the second half and helped put the game away by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to give the Huskies a 54-45 lead with 6:08 remaining.
HARVARD FALL SHORT
For 18 seconds, it was happening. Harvard owned basketball, too.
The school that churns out US presidents, Supreme Court justices, billionaire CEOs and Nobel Peace Prizes was taking a serious run at altering the discourse on this year's NCAA tournament, as well.
Harvard guard Laurent Rivard made a 3-pointer from the corner, looped his thumb and finger together around his eye - the "3-point goggles" - and flashed a determined glare toward a group of Crimson fans in the stands who were coming unhinged with 7:12 left in the game. Someone in the Harvard nation tweeted: "rooting for the 1 percent."
The Ivy Leaguers had overcome a 16-point deficit to take a two-point lead over Michigan State, a team that always comes up big on college basketball's biggest stage.
The next time down the floor, Spartans guard Travis Trice came back with a 3 to put his team back in the lead. A few minutes later, Michigan State was out of danger - not by much, though - on the way to an 80-73 victory that sent Harvard back home, but not without making a statement.
"We showed everybody that we can come all year and play with the best," sophomore guard Siyani Chambers said.
Led by a career-high 26 points from Branden Dawson, the fourth-seeded Spartans (28-8) moved onto the Sweet 16 for the 12th time in the last 17 seasons. They'll play Virginia or Memphis next Friday (local time) at Madison Square Garden.
In a test of tempos, Wisconsin delivered the knockout punch.
Ben Brust hit a 3-pointer with 1:07 left and the second-seeded Badgers overcame seventh-seeded Oregon's transition game for a thrilling 85-77 win to get into the Sweet 16.
Brust's clutch 3 from the corner gave the Badgers (28-7) the lead for good in a clash of styles played before a boisterous pro-Wisconsin crowd at the anything-but-neutral Bradley Center.
Traevon Jackson followed with three free throws, but missed one with 21 seconds left to give the Ducks (24-10) one more chance to tie trailing by three.
Oregon gave it to Joseph Young, who had made big shots all night and scored 29 points. But he missed a rushed 3 from the wing, and the Badgers sealed it at the foul line.
The red-clad fans erupted into a deafening roar. Their beloved Badgers are back in the NCAA regional semifinals for the first time since 2012. They will play Baylor or Creighton in Anaheim, California, on Thursday (local time).
Frank Kaminsky led the way with 19 points, Jackson finished with 16 and Brust had 12.
NO 1 FLORIDA ROLL
Scottie Wilbekin sat on the bench for the final minute, holding a bag of ice against his left knee.
It was about the only time he wasn't giving Pittsburgh huge problems on both ends of the court.
Wilbekin scored 21 points, including 11 of the team's 13 during a 7-minute stretch in the second half, and top-seeded Florida handled the Panthers 61-45 in the NCAA tournament. The Gators' 28th consecutive win put them in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year.
The latest victory followed a lackluster and head-scratching performance in the team's NCAA opener against Albany two days earlier.
The Gators vowed to play with more energy and intensity, and Wilbekin spearheaded the effort.
"We just wanted to come out and not let them play harder than us or not play as hard as we can," Wilbekin said. "I think we did a good job of having our energy up at the start of the game, and we played together on offense and played together on defence."
Wilbekin took over in the second half, scoring eight consecutive points at one point. Patric Young wasn't too shabby, either, finishing with seven points and eight rebounds. Will Yeguete added eight points - all in the paint.
Michael Frazier II chipped in 10 points for the Gators. Frazier was just 2-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Had Florida not been cold from behind the arc, the game would have been essentially over much sooner than it was. The Gators finished 5 of 20 from 3-point range, with at least five of those rimming in and out.
Florida will face either fourth-seeded UCLA or 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin on Thursday (local time) in the South Regional in Memphis, Tenn. The Bruins and Lumberjacks play Sunday (local time) in San Diego.
The Gators have the longest current streak of Sweet 16 appearances - and expect to go further.