SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Sean Miller had just been named Xavier's head basketball coach when he began meeting with athletic director Dawn Rogers about filling out his staff. Rogers had previously worked with Chris Mack, then on Skip Prosser's staff at Wake Forest, and suggested Miller consider him with the Musketeers. Miller knew nothing about Mack, but during the meticulous process of finding assistants, the Xavier alum's name kept coming up.
When Michigan was slumping earlier in the season, the coach started thinking Super Bowl, not Final Four. John Beilein conjured up the highlight-reel catch that Patriots receiver Julian Edelman made during New England's game-tying drive in the Super Bowl, and said the Wolverines should keep that sort of play -- an outlier, as he called it -- in mind.
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Getting to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament is nothing new for Gonzaga and Arizona. The task this weekend for the Bulldogs and Wildcats will be trying to make it out of the West Region and take that next step to the Final Four. The process starts Thursday when top-seeded Gonzaga (34-1) faces No. 4 seed West Virginia (28-8) and second-seeded Arizona (32-4) faces No. 11 seed Xavier (23-13).
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- No. 11 seed Xavier (23-13) vs. No. 2 seed Arizona (32-4) Third round, West region; San Jose, California; 10:09 p.m. EDT. BOTTOM LINE: Xavier is the lone double-digit seed left in a Sweet 16 filled with power programs. The Musketeers pulled off a pair of upsets to reach the regional semifinals, beating No. 6 seed Maryland and No. 3 Florida State the first weekend of the tournament.
The NCAA Tournament's first weekend closed with a flourish, a Sunday full of scintillating games after three days of good-not-always-great basketball. That put the madness back in March and should carry over into a regional round filled with great matchups and big-name programs. Here's a rundown of the top games, players, coaches and interesting story lines for the Sweet 16: ___ TOP GAMES UCLA vs. Kentucky, South Region; Friday, Memphis. Blue bloods in Bluff City.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's win over defending national champion and overall No. 1 seed Villanova shook up office pools around the country, though the tested Badgers aren't a typical No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Eleventh-seeded Xavier might be a surprise team in the regional semifinals, but with their 3-point prowess, the Musketeers are capable of shooting their way past any opponent.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Point guard Edmond Sumner eased himself down the hallway from Xavier's practice gym on Monday using a pair of crutches to protect his surgically repaired knee. Somehow, his team has figured out how to move on without him. The Musketeers (23-13) are the biggest surprise in the Sweet 16.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- The Atlantic Coast Conference's strong regular season only stood to set up a first-weekend flameout in the NCAA Tournament. The league had a record nine bids, but North Carolina is the only one alive in the Sweet 16. And the South Region's No. 1 seed was fortunate to survive a second-round game against Arkansas to get there.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Arizona and Saint Mary's are no strangers after scrimmaging during the preseason three times in the last four years. So, the Wildcats weren't surprised when the Gaels punched them in the mouth early. Lauri Markkanen and Allonzo Trier shined and No. 2-seeded Arizona rallied to defeat No. 7 Saint Mary's 69-60 on Saturday night and advance to the West Regional's Sweet 16.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- No. 2 seed Arizona (31-4) vs. No. 7 Saint Mary's (29-4) Second round, West region; Salt Lake City; 7:45 p.m. EDT. BOTTOM LINE: Saint Mary's brings the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation to face an Arizona team that's averaged 90.25 points in its last five games. The Wildcats have been one of the hottest teams in the country while winning the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gonzaga got the credit it deserved this year -- in the form of a No. 1 seed -- for making its schedule as challenging as it could. Maybe it shouldn't be so hard, though.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Arizona's freshman combination of Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins didn't act their age Thursday night in their NCAA Tournament debut. The pair combined for 40 points as the Wildcats began what's expected to be a deep postseason run. Markkanen scored 20 points as second-seeded Arizona cruised to a 100-82 victory over No. 15 North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA's West Regional.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- There's a different feel around Gonzaga these days as the program has evolved from a little known mid-major to a title contender. The Bulldogs enter the NCAA Tournament with the No. 1 seed in the West and just one loss. They've completed the best regular season in school history with what may be the best team the program has put together.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- No. 2 seed Arizona (30-4) vs No. 14 seed North Dakota (22-9) First round, West region; Salt Lake City; 9:50 p.m. EDT. BOTTOM LINE: Arizona is one of the hottest teams in the country after winning the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles. The Wildcats have advanced to the Elite Eight three times under coach Sean Miller, but have not reached the Final Four since 2001.
This year's NCAA Tournament has a chance to be just as good as 2016, when Kris Jenkins capped March Madness the most dramatic way possible with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win Villanova a title. North Carolina fans may not have liked it, but it was the perfect end to a wild tournament filled with upsets and great games. Plus, the Tar Heels are a No.
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Arizona stayed resilient while its best player was suspended, fought through injuries, kept finding ways to win. That composure helped the Wildcats share the Pac-12 regular-season crown with Oregon and withstand a furious rally by the Ducks in the conference title game. Now they're Pac-12 Tournament champions and have a decent shot to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. Led by ever-calm sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, No.
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A spot in the championship game secure, Arizona coach Sean Miller called a timeout with 0.9 seconds left against UCLA, threw the ball onto the floor and began shouting in the face of Kadeem Allen. Miller said it was to give the senior guard his due and make sure his team was poised at the end the game.
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Arizona allowed Colorado to hang around for a half. Once the Wildcats got rolling, there was no stopping them on the way to the Pac-12 semifinals. Lauri Markkanen scored 20 points, Allonzo Trier added 19 and No. 7 Arizona pulled away in the second half for a 92-78 victory over Colorado on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney. "They were offensive juggernauts tonight," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball has been named player and newcomer of the year, while Arizona coach Sean Miller has been named coach of the year on the All-Pac-12 Conference men's basketball team announced Tuesday by The Associated Press. Ball arrived at UCLA with plenty of hype and lived up to this season, leading the nation in assists with 7.8 per game. The 6-foot-6 guard also averaged 14.9 points and 6.2 rebounds for the third-ranked Bruins.