March Madness winners and losers: Alabama soars into Sweet 16; red-hot Duke descends on Tennessee

March Madness went ahead and went, well, crazy on Saturday in the first day of Round 2 action to kick-start the weekend. A day after No. 1 seed Purdue was run to the curb by No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, another No. 1 seed was sent packing — and it was a big one when reigning champion Kansas fell to No. 8 — seeded in Arkansas in a fantastic. The Jayhawks led or were tied for all but 114 seconds of the 2,400 played over two halves, but didn’t when the clock struck zero in a 72-71 loss thanks to a flurry of Razorbacks free throws in crunch time. .

And get this: it wasn’t even the most surprising result of the day.

No. 15 seed Princeton punching its ticket to the Sweet 16 was, by point spread, the real shocker of Saturday’s slate. Princeton knocked off No. 7 seed Missouri 78-63 to become the fourth 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 in tournament history, giving us our first official Cinderella story of the year. The Sweet 16 berth marked Princeton’s first in 56 years (!!) — 18 years before tournament expansion — and gave the Ivy League its first team to dance into the Sweet 16 since Cornell did so in 2010.

It is only part of the goods that were delivered on Saturday when we made it to the halfway mark for the second round. The rest – in winner and loser fashion – is described below.

Let’s dive in.

Winner: Alabama looks unstoppable against Maryland

No. 1 seed Alabama looked to be part of the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s tournament in a dominant, runaway 73-51 victory over No. 8 seed Maryland. The Tide have run it up on teams all season in SEC play, and they did the same against the Terps, outscoring them 45-28 in the second half to distance themselves en route to a Sweet 16 berth. Freshman star Brandon Miller contributed 19 points after being held scoreless in the first round, and Jahvon Quinerly led all scorers with 22 points. The win moved Alabama to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons under coach Nate Oats after failing to do so in 16 years until 2021.

Loser: Reigning champion Kansas bows out early

Vegas knows, folks. Vegas always knows. There could be takeaways here from No. 1 seed Kansas’ second-round loss Saturday to No. 8 seed Arkansas. The Jayhawks were the shortest favorite for a No. 1 seed in the second round in nearly three decades — favored by just 3.5 points without the services of Hall of Fame coach Bill Self — and it ended with a season-ending 72-71 loss to Arkansas in a stunning. The loss guaranteed that at least two No. 1 seeds would not see the second weekend of the Big Dance after the No. 1 seed Purdue on Friday fell in the first round to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinsonin what is the biggest upset in tournament history.

“It was a tough game. A game,” KU interim coach Norm Roberts said. “It was tough not having a coach here. But we’re not making any excuses. We have to step up and get it done, and we fell a little short today.”

Winner: Houston puts away upset Auburn

In about as close to a road game as you can get in an NCAA Tournament second round, No. 1 seed Houston held off No. 9 seed Auburn in Birmingham, Alabama, to punch its Sweet 16 ticket in style with an 81- 64 win. The Cougars appeared to be on shaky ground entering the second round with Marcus Sasser out with a groin injury and Jamal Shead playing through a knee injury, but they flexed their depth in a big way with Tramon Mark turning in a career high 26 more points lead them to victory.

Auburn played Houston close deep into the second half and had a lead that grew to as many as 10 in the game, but as they have done several times this season, they ran out of steam late and succumbed to several big Houston runs that helped put the game on hold. With No. 1 seed Purdue losing on Friday and No. 1 seed Kansas losing on Saturday, the Cougars — betting favorites to win it all — outlasted the tournament and advanced, seeing their chances to win it all open up even more.

Winner: Wounded UCLA keeps rolling

Without injured defensive star Jaylen Clark and with big man Adem Bona out with a shoulder injury, No. 2 seed UCLA advanced to the Sweet 16 with an impressive 68-63 win over No. 7 seed Northwestern thanks to an elite defensive which was shown late. . The Bruins held Northwestern to 2-of-12 shooting to end the game and got some big performances from their stars, with Jaime Jaquez Jr. who carried them with 24 points and eight boards. Amari Bailey stayed hot with 14 points and six dimes, and David Singleton also made some big shots late before turning his ankle.

No. 13 seed Furman’s bid to become this year’s March Madness Cinderella story hit midnight Saturday when No. 5 San Diego State dominated the Paladins from start to finish in a 75-52 victory to advance to the Sweet 16. The Aztecs got off to a slow start , but roared out to a 14-point halftime lead, which swelled to as many as 26 in the second half as they cruised into the regional semifinals. Furman was a feel-good story in the first round after taking down No. 4 seed Virginia, but it struggled against SDSU’s devastating defense, committing nine turnovers and shooting a woeful 16-of-50 from the field. The Paladins struggled to slow SDSU’s balanced offensive attack as well, with four Aztecs — led by Micah Parrish’s 16 points — finishing in double figures on the afternoon.

“We prepared hard, we knew they were good, and then we played a really good game today on both ends of the floor,” SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said after the game. “We hang our hat on the defense. That’s what we do every game. When we get the opportunity to start making shots and play well offensively, then we are very good.”

Loser: Duke can’t find form in loss to Vols

Tennessee went down the stretch losing point guard Zakai Zeigler while Duke entered Saturday on a 10-game winning streak as one of — if not the – hottest team in college basketball. Then the rain: The Vols smoked the Blue Devils 65-52 to advance to the Sweet 16 in a game that wasn’t that close late.

Tennessee’s stifling defense got the better of Duke and its talent-heavy roster by limiting Duke to a season-low 52 points in the win. The Vols forced 15 turnovers and converted those into 18 points in their column, which was actually the difference in the game.

“We love offense, we love high-scoring, entertaining basketball, but definitely the defensive strength and effort and execution of Tennessee, complemented by timely and good offense [was the difference],” CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg said.

Vols wing Olivier Nkamhoua was the session’s breakout star after overcoming a 4-point first half to explode for 23 points — including a stretch in which he scored 13 straight — in the second half. He finished with 27 points, five boards and one heck of a highlight-reel finish to cap off a sensational day.

Winner: Princeton keeps cool vs. Mizzou

No. 7 seed Missouri forced 10 or more turnovers in every game this season. Until Saturday. No. 15 seed Princeton turned it over just nine times against Mizzou’s relentless pressure en route to a dominating 78-63 victory over its SEC foe. With the win, Princeton became just the fourth Ivy League team to reach the Sweet 16 in the modern era and the first since Cornell in 2010. Equally impressive was how Princeton dominated on the glass with a 19-2 edge in second-chance points. After beating Arizona on Thursday and taking out Mizzou, Princeton hardly feels like an underdog anymore. The Tigers are a confident, fundamental-sounding bunch marching into the Sweet 16.

Winner: No. 2 seed Texas ends Penn State’s season

A dream run to the Big Ten Tournament title game and a first-round NCAA Tournament victory for Penn State ended in Round 2 vs. No. 2 Texas, as the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions fell 71-66. Penn State hung around until the end and led briefly in the final minutes, but Texas — punching its first ticket to the Sweet 16 since 2008 — turned on cruise control to make six of its last six field goal attempts to split the stretch. .

“I thought our guys came in and competed at a very high level,” UT coach Rodney Terry said. “This has been a very resilient group all year. Basketball is a game of runs. I think this team has been doing this at a very high level since Jan. 1.”

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