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.
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.
It's on to the weekend that many consider the defining mark of a season. Reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and a season is a success. Two wins from the Final Four and all the weekday games are in prime time. "I just told everybody, just wait," Michigan's John Beilein, one of three coaches taking a Big Ten team to the round of 16, said of the conference's early struggles.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- UCLA had trouble getting its high-octane offense going in the first half against Cincinnati's big, athletic defenders. Once the Bruins got rolling, there was no stopping them -- all the way into the Sweet 16. Next up: A blue blood rematch with Kentucky in the South Regional semifinals.
Results from the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday: ___ EAST REGION SOUTH CAROLINA 88, DUKE 81 GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Sindarius Thornwell had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and seventh-seeded South Carolina stunned No. 2 seed Duke 88-81 on Sunday night to advance to its first Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament's expanded bracket.
The Latest on the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern): 12 a.m. The Sweet 16 is set after a Sunday filled with close games and two huge upsets. No. 7 seed South Carolina bounced No. 2 seed Duke, a team that opened as the betting favorite in some Las Vegas casinos. Another 2, Louisville, was taken down by Michigan to leave the ACC with only one team in the field.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Steve Alford was criticized for not winning enough, considered to be on the hot seat heading into this season. Bryce Alford was knocked for shooting too much, expected to have a hard time taking a back seat to freshman phenom Lonzo Ball. Look at them now.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- North Carolina is at its best when the Tar Heels are pushing the ball upcourt in a go-go-go pace, one that frequently has opponents desperately trying to slow things down. That shouldn't be a problem for Sunday's second-round game in the South Regional. Arkansas is just as eager to play fast -- even if that's a prospect that thrills the top-seeded Tar Heels.
The Latest on Day 3 of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern): 12:05 p.m. It took three days for the NCAA Tournament to produce a major upset. It was a stunner that busted a ton of brackets. Villanova, the defending national champion and the top overall seed, was upended by eighth-seeded Wisconsin 65-62. Fellow No.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- UCLA raced out for layups, dropped in 3-pointers, piled up the points. The Bruins are the nation's top-scoring team, so no surprise there. The defense? That still could use a little work. UCLA raced out to a big lead and held on through numerous defensive lapses, pulling away late for a 97-80 victory over scrappy Kent State on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament South Region.
UCLA coach Steve Alford says he's focused on the NCAA Tournament, not the job opening at his alma mater Indiana. Alford played four seasons in Bloomington and led the Hoosiers to the 1987 NCAA title under coach Bobby Knight. His name was among the first to come up when Indiana coach Tom Crean was fired on Thursday. "That was 30 years ago," Alford said at a news conference before his third-seeded Bruins face No.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball dribbled around the court Thursday at Golden 1 Center in preparation for his team's opening game of the NCAA Tournament. With nearly every shot he took, fans yelled out: "You're better than Steph!" This has become Ball's world since his father, LaVar, proclaimed the talented freshman better than NBA MVP Steph Curry.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Tom Crean put Indiana basketball back in the national conversation. As it turned out, there was too much talk and not enough wins. Not for the Hoosiers. Nine years after taking over a team mired in turmoil following an NCAA scandal, Crean was fired Thursday after missing the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in his tenure.
The Latest on the NCAA Tournament (all times EDT): 12:55 a.m. It's been 20 years since a Pac-12 team won the national championship, and Arizona is out to match what the 1997 Wildcats pulled off. They're off on the right foot, beating North Dakota 100-82 in the final game of a day that saw two teams make their NCAA Tournament debuts. Northwestern's inaugural visit ended in a stunning victory over Vanderbilt.
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) -- Lonzo Ball had a turnover and two fouls before his first postseason game was 3 minutes old. Nothing came easy for the star guard Thursday night, but No. 3 UCLA did just enough to advance in the Pac-12 Tournament. Isaac Hamilton scored 22 points, and the Bruins held off rival Southern California 76-74 in the quarterfinals. "It was tough," Ball said of his early foul trouble.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Bryce Alford lifted his warmup jersey to wipe his watery eyes. His father and coach, Steve Alford, had tears, too. The third-ranked Bruins were an emotional mess before the game tipped off on Senior Night. It showed in the early going until they got their act together in the second half to beat Washington State 77-68 on Saturday night for their ninth straight win and a 16-1 finish at home.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- An awesome offense has carried UCLA to a terrific season. The Bruins turned to rebounding and defense for what may have been their most impressive win yet. Thomas Welsh scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and No. 5 UCLA dominated the offensive boards to beat No. 4 Arizona 77-72 in a Pac-12 showdown Saturday night. "That's what Tommy does," UCLA coach Steve Alford said.