NEW YORK -- Finally, a Sweet 16 run for Villanova.
It had been seven years since the Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second weekend, and led by their seniors, they moved on easily.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 16 points, Daniel Ochefu had 11 rebounds, and second-seeded Villanova beat seventh-seeded Iowa 87-68 on Sunday in the South Regional, the Wildcats' first Sweet 16 appearance since they went to the Final Four in 2009.
Arcidiacono, Ochefu and the rest of Villanova's seniors made it to the tournament's second weekend for the first time. They were upset in the round of 32 the last two seasons and didn't make it that far as freshmen.
"Great leadership by Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu," coach Jay Wright said. "I'm thrilled for that senior class that they get to play in a Sweet 16."
So are those seniors.
"It was definitely a big-time sigh of relief," Arcidiacono said. "I was ecstatic that we won our game against Iowa because we know how good of a team they are. But I'm just happy for our senior class to be able to get to experience it."
Ochefu, who said he heard the first question about the Sweet 16 last summer, was thinking of a lot of Villanova players.
"It means a lot for us and just for this program," he said. "And for all the seniors that were here before us and molding us into the guys we are today, this one's for them."
The Wildcats (31-5) will meet third-seeded Miami on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky.
"I just think the biggest thing is I'm honestly just done answering the questions about getting past the (first) weekend," Arcidiacono said. "I know it was always in the back of our senior minds and our team. But we definitely can go all the way as long as we stick to what we do."
Villanova lost in the round of 32 as a No. 1 seed last season and as a No. 2 seed in 2014. But there was no doubt in this one. The Wildcats led 54-29 at halftime and by as many as 34 points in the second half. The closest Iowa (22-11) got was 16 points in the final minutes.
Josh Hart scored 19 points, Kris Jenkins 15 and Jalen Brunson 12.
Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa with 16 points. Nicolas Baer had 15 and Peter Jok 11.
The Wildcats took command about 12 minutes in. While Villanova was hitting almost every shot - the Wildcats made seven of their first 10 3-point attempts - Iowa couldn't come up with a basket to stem the tide.
The Hawkeyes went five minutes with a field goal, and Villanova took a 39-21 lead. It didn't get any better for Iowa, and it couldn't have remained any better for the Wildcats against the Hawkeyes' zone.
Villanova, which wasn't fazed in the least by Iowa's midcourt trap, closed the half on an 8-0 run. The 54 points were the most the Wildcats have ever scored in a half in the NCAA Tournament.
"We were just hitting on all cylinders," Wright said.
Villanova shot 60.6 percent in the half. Three players - Jenkins, Hart and Brunson - had already reached double figures. Villanova had just four turnovers, none of which Iowa scored off, and it turned the Hawkeyes' eight turnovers into 12 points. The Wildcats outrebounded Iowa 19-12.
Wright said he told Iowa coach Fran McCaffery when they shook hands: "Hey, I'm sorry. We haven't played a first half like that in a long time."
And the Hawkeyes couldn't make a run in the second half.
"It's hard to come back. You've got to make 3s,"McCaffery said. "We had good looks at it from 3. If we could have made a few, maybe it would have been a little bit different."
The Wildcats had advanced to the second round with an 86-56 thrashing of UNC-Asheville while Iowa needed overtime to beat Temple 72-70 on a tip-in at the buzzer.
"I really think they can go a long way," McCaffery said of Villanova. "They're a really difficult team to guard. A lot of times, really talented offensive teams plays defense in spurts, and they don't. They play defense equally as well as they play offense."
March Mismatch: Gonzaga tops Utah to move to Sweet 16
DENVER -- Leave the buzzer-beaters and heart-stoppers to the other guys.
For Gonzaga, these are the March Mismatches.
The Bulldogs, looking like something much different than an 11 seed, rolled over No. 3 Utah on Saturday, 82-59 behind 22 points from Eric McClellan and a 19-point, 10-rebound effort from Domantas Sabonis.
This was a wire-to-wire effort even more impressive than their 16-point win over Seton Hall in the first round.
"We played as good as probably we've played all year, on what is the biggest stage," coach Mark Few said.
Next up for the Zags (28-7), a game against Syracuse or Middle Tennessee in the Midwest Regional.
Kyle Wiltjer had 17 for Gonzaga. He went 3 for 4 from 3-point range, all in the first half, to help the Bulldogs jump to a quick double-digit lead.
This game was billed as a battle of big guys, between the 6-foot-11 Sabonis and Utah's 7-footer, Jakob Poeltl. That fizzled. Poeltl finished with five points and four rebounds. He got in foul trouble early - drawing his first when Sabonis spun to the baseline and left Poeltl grabbing to prevent the dunk.
"He's an incredible player," Poeltl said. "He made some really good plays today. It's his versatility that makes him so tough to guard."
On Utah's first possession of the second half, Poeltl posted up and tried the hook. Sabonis redirected it and the ball never got to the glass. The son of former NBA star Arvydas Sabonis recorded his 22nd double-double of the season.
"He's a really, really aggressive and tough, tough kid," Few said. "If you haven't faced him or felt him - you know, live - I think there's an adjustment period."
A few minutes after Sabonis denied Poeltl, McClellan converted a steal by Kyle Dranginis into a layup and a three-point play to push Gonzaga's lead to 20.
From there, this was a pick-your-score runaway - the only drama involving when Few would give his eight-man rotation a break and let some of the walk-ons and others get a piece of the action. For the record, that came with 1:39 left, and by then, Gonzaga fans were booking their tickets to Chicago for next Friday's game.
Utah (27-9) walked off wondering what happened. And if that was really an 11 seed they'd just played.
"I know Gonzaga's a really good team. I would never put a number on them," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I wouldn't be surprised if they're in the Final Four."
That hardly looked possible back in December - or January or February - with the losses piling up; seven is a lot for this program.
The trials and tribulations were spelled out in detail on a behind-the-scenes documentary airing on HBO: "The March to Madness," that chronicled the season-ending injury to star center Przemek Karnowski, the guards' struggle for consistency and the never-for-sure quest simply to make the tournament for the 18th straight year.
"I don't think any of us can deny there was a little bit of a sense of desperation that we faced," Few said. "We had a talk in the locker room, it was fight or flight, man. It's human nature. We lined up and we all chose to fight."
The fight goes on. It's Gonzaga's second straight Sweet 16 appearance, though not many people saw this one coming.
"I think we'll be in a great situation in Chicago," Few said. "No matter how anybody wants to dress it up, I don't think we should have any expectations on us."
Late tip gives Notre Dame 76-75 win over Stephen F. Austin
NEW YORK -- Rex Plfueger tapped in a miss with 1.5 seconds left and Notre Dame survived a valiant effort by No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin 76-75 on Sunday to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.
With 17.5 seconds left, sixth-seed Notre Dame grabbed an SFA rebound down one and put it in the hands of Demetrius Jackson. The point guard drove to the basket and missed. Zach Auguste followed for the Irish (22-12) but could not convert. The ball slipped off the rim and with one hand Pflueger flipped it in for his only basket of the game.
A long heave from Stephen F. Austin (28-6) went wide and Notre Dame celebrated by swarming Pflueger.
The Irish advance to play either Wisconsin or Xavier Friday in the East Regional at Philadelphia.
Thomas Walkup, the hero of Stephen F. Austin's first-round upset of West Virginia, scored 21.
Hield's 36 points lead Oklahoma past VCU 85-81
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Buddy Hield scored 19 of his 36 points in the final eight minutes to help No. 2 seed Oklahoma hold off No. 10 seed VCU 85-81 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Hield, who didn't score for more than 10 minutes to start the game, made 9 of 12 shots in the second half after going 2 for 8 in the first. The senior guard posted at least 30 points for the 11th time this season.
Jordan Woodard scored 17 points and Isaiah Cousins added 15 for the Sooners (27-7), who advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Melvin Johnson scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, JeQuan Lewis scored 22 points and Michael Gilmore added 12 for VCU (25-11), which was trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since its Final Four run in 2011.
Oklahoma started the game on a 21-7 run despite Hield going scoreless. VCU hit three 3-pointers in a three-minute span to cut the Sooners' lead to 30-25.
Hield sat for the final 4:25 of the first half with two fouls. The Sooners led 32-27 when he went to the bench, but they outscored the Rams 12-4 the rest of the half to lead 44-31 at the break. Hield scored seven points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half. Lewis scored 13 points in the first half to keep the Rams within range.
Johnson, who struggled in the first half, hit two quick threes at the beginning of the second half to spark the Rams. VCU trimmed Oklahoma's lead to 49-45 before the Sooners regrouped with five straight points by Woodard.
VCU rallied, and two threes by Gilmore put the Rams up 62-61.
VCU led 65-63 when Hield scored eight points in 1:53, including two 3-pointers, to put the Sooners ahead for good
Syracuse routs Middle Tennessee State to reach Sweet 16
ST. LOUIS -- The insufferable zone of Syracuse ground Middle Tennessee State's magical March ride to a halt, and the No. 10 seed Orange beat the No. 15 seed Blue Raiders 75-50 on Sunday night to advance to the Sweet 16.
Michael Gbinije poured in 23 points, Tyler Lydon added 14 and the Orange (21-13) used a 21-2 charge midway through the second half to crack open a close game and join five other ACC schools in advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
After teetering on the bubble a week ago, they'll play No. 11 seed Gonzaga on Friday in Chicago.
The Blue Raiders (25-10), who shredded so many brackets with their upset of second-seeded Michigan State, made things tough on Syracuse for a while. They led early in the second half and still trailed just 40-39 with 16:02 to go, but proceeded to make one of their next 16 field-goal attempts.
The Orange became the sixth and perhaps most unlikely of the ACC schools to advance to the Sweet 16, a record number for a single conference since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The league went 12-1 in the opening two rounds with only Pittsburgh losing.
Darnell Harris led Middle Tennessee State with 11 points, while Reggie Upshaw - who scored 21 points against the Spartans - was held to two on 1-for-10 shooting.
Trevor Cooney got Syracuse off to a good start with three early 3s, but he was just as valuable alongside Gbinije at the top of its zone. The long, athletic guards were able to cut off the Blue Raiders before they could drive to the basket, forcing them to take a series of off-balance jumpers.
Still, their trouble at the foul line allowed Middle Tennessee State to hang in the game.
The Orange led just 31-27 at halftime, and the hardscrabble Blue Raiders even managed to pull ahead when Giddy Potts followed a 3-pointer by Jaqawn Raymond with one of his own out of the break.
But after Potts, the nation's top 3-point shooter, hit again a few minutes later, the Blue Raiders managed one more field goal over the next 11 minutes. They resorted to deep 3-pointers rather than even try to penetrate the Syracuse defense, and Lydon kept swatting away the few inside chances they had.
Meanwhile, Gbinije started to heat up. The senior knocked down a pair of pull-up jumpers, then curled in a 3 from opposite the Syracuse bench, giving the Orange a 50-41 lead with just over 11 minutes to go.
By the time their game-defining run was over, the Orange were feeling sweet again.
The program has been overshadowed the past couple of years by an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct. The penalties included the loss of scholarships, the vacating of wins and the suspension of coach Jim Boeheim while keeping the Orange out of the postseason a year ago.
Well, they're back. And now they're sticking around for a while.
No. 5 seed Maryland beats No. 13 seed Hawaii 73-60
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Melo Trimble watched Maryland miss its first 15 3-pointers and stand locked in a defensive battle with Hawaii in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Then Trimble sank a 3 during a 14-0 Maryland run and it seemed to break the game open for the Terrapins.
"When that shot went down, it made everybody loose," said Maryland's Rasheed Sulaimon after the Terrapins beat Hawaii 73-60 on Sunday to advance to the round of 16.
Trimble scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Maryland, but it was the 3-pointer that did the most damage.
"When I made that 3, I felt great," Trimble said.
Hawaii led 41-39 midway through the second when Sulaimon launched the 14-0 run.
"We told each other we had to relax," Sulaimon said.
Diamond Stone added 14 points for fifth-seeded Maryland (27-8), which advanced to the round of 16 for the eighth time in the past 22 years.
Mike Thomas had 19 points and 11 rebounds for 13th-seeded Hawaii (28-6), which won a tournament game for the first time this season.
"That stretch in the second half was a big hammer," Hawaii coach Eran Ganot said of Maryland's run.
The Rainbow Warriors tried to respond, but Maryland put the game away at the free throw line.
"I'm very proud of our program," said Ganot, who led Hawaii to a team record for victories in his first season as head coach. "They galvanized the state."
Maryland will play Kansas next Thursday in the round of 16.
After a sluggish first half in which Maryland led 28-27, the tempo picked up in the second.
Hawaii went on a 10-4 run to take a 39-36 lead. Then the bottom fell out.
Trimble's 3-pointer, the first of the game for Maryland after 15 misses, highlighted a 14-0 run that put the Terps ahead 53-41 with just over seven minutes left. Hawaii made just 1-of-13 field goal attempts during Maryland's run.
"We didn't make the shots we are supposed to make," said Hawaii's Stefan Jankovic. "We missed a lot of layups."
Maryland had a big advantage in free throws, making 28 of 31. Hawaii made 10 of 15.
"We didn't get to the line as much as we like," Ganot said. "That's on us."
Neither team shot well. Maryland connected on 46 percent of its shots, but only made 1 of 18 from 3-point range. Hawaii shot 33 percent.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said making the round of 16 was satisfying after Maryland's recent run of losses.
"To be a part of the Sweet 16 is a big step for us," Turgeon said. "We feel good about ourselves."
Maryland missed its first six shots and didn't score a field goal until six minutes into the game, but Hawaii held only a 6-4 lead at that point. Hawaii made only five of its first 15 shots.
Hawaii built a 10-4 lead, but Diamond Stone scored four baskets as the Terps took a 14-13 lead.
The teams traded baskets as the scoring pace picked up. Maryland led 28-27 lead at halftime.
This season has been an unexpected success for Hawaii under first-year coach Eran Ganot. In December, the NCAA slapped his program with sanctions for infractions committed under former coach Gib Arnold. The penalties include a 2016-17 postseason ban, scholarship reductions and players being allowed to transfer without having to sit out a year.
Instead of crumbling, the Warriors won the Big West Conference. They set a school record for victories in a season by beating California 77-66 in the first round of the tournament, their first win after four losses in the NCAAs.
Meanwhile, Maryland hung on to beat South Dakota State 79-74 in the first round.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Terrapins, who at one point were ranked No. 2 in the nation before losing five of their final eight games before the tournament.
Texas A&M uses furious comeback to down Northern Iowa, 92-88
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Alex Caruso scored 25 points as Texas A&M overcame a 10-point deficit with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation to come back for a 92-88 double overtime victory over Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
The win puts the third-seeded Aggies (28-8) in the Sweet 16 for the third time in school history, the first since 2007.
Danuel House scored all 22 of his points in the second half and overtime, while Jalen Jones finished with 16 for Texas A&M - which has now won 10 of its last 11 games.
Jeremy Morgan had career highs of 36 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Panthers (23-13), who led 69-59 in the final minute of regulation before committing four turnovers in the final 29 seconds to spark the Aggies comeback.
Wisconsin rallies to stun No. 2 seed Xavier, 66-63
ST. LOUIS -- Bronson Koenig hit two 3-pointers in the closing seconds, the last of them as the buzzer sounded, and Wisconsin edged Xavier 66-63 on Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The talented sharpshooter who failed to hit from beyond the arc in a first-round win over Pittsburgh connected from well beyond the 3-point line to tie it at 63 with 11.7 seconds remaining.
Edmond Sumner brought the ball up court for second-seeded Xavier (28-6), and then drove to the basket, running over the Badgers' Zak Showalter and getting called for an offensive foul with 4.3 seconds to go.
No. 7 seed Wisconsin (22-12) called timeout after crossing half court and coach Greg Gard drew up a play for his best outside shooter. Koenig got the inbound pass in front of his own bench and buried the fallaway shot, sending the jubilant Badgers streaming onto the court and into another Sweet 16.
"I just tried to channel my inner Steph Curry," Koenig said, referring to the reigning NBA MVP.
The Badgers will face sixth-seeded Notre Dame on Friday in Philadelphia.
Koenig finished with six 3-pointers and 20 points. Ethan Happ had 18 points and Vitto Brown finished with 12 for Wisconsin, which improved to 15-5 in the NCAA Tournament over the past six seasons.
Remy Abell and Jalen Reynolds had 13 points apiece for Xavier, which had a 58-49 lead with just over 6 minutes before it slowly evaporated.
The game lived up to its rough-and-tumble billing, the pendulum swinging wildly in the first half.
The Badgers, who struggled to score 16 points by halftime in their 47-43 win over the Panthers, raced out to a 17-8 lead before Xavier could blink. But the 1-3-1 zone of the Musketeers eventually slowed them down, and the Big East runner-ups countered with a 21-8 run of their own.
They led 33-30 at halftime in an arena heavily tilted toward Badger fans.
The lead changed hands six times in the early minutes of the second half before the Musketeers began to assert themselves. Abell knocked down a 3 to give Xavier a 49-47 lead.
Cheered on by super-fan Bill Murray, the actor and comedian whose son Luke is an assistant on Chris Mack's staff, the Musketeers eventually pushed their lead to 58-49 - their biggest of the game.
The Badgers weren't done, though. They never seem to be this time of year.
Seeking a third straight trip to the Final Four, the Badgers quickly cut into their deficit. Koenig hit a pair of foul shots, and then a strip-steal turned into a layup for Showalter, before Hill hit yet another shot to make it 61-57 at the under-4 minute timeout.
The Badgers didn't stop coming back until the final shot of the game.
Brooks rallies top-seed Oregon past St. Joseph's 69-64
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Dillon Brooks refused to let top-seed Oregon and the Pac-12 Conference be eliminated on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, scoring 25 points and leading the Ducks to 69-64 win over No. 8 seed Saint Joseph's in the second round of the West Regional on Sunday night.
Oregon (29-6) was carrying the banner for the rest of the Pac-12 after the conference posted a collective dud on the opening weekend. Five teams were sent home in the first round and Utah was routed by 11th-seeded Gonzaga in the round of 32, leaving the Ducks as the lone conference representative.
And they were tested by the Hawks, rallying from down 58-51 in the final five minutes to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013. Brooks started the rally with a driving three-point play and put Oregon in front for good on a 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining.
DeAndre' Bembry led the Hawks (28-8) with 16 points, but the Atlantic 10 tournament champs saw their postseason run ended.
Despite seeing their lead evaporate in the closing minutes, the Hawks had chances in the final minute but had two terrible offensive possessions. First came a shot clock violation with 49 seconds left, followed by Bembry losing control of the ball trying to get open for a potential tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining after Oregon's Casey Benson split a pair of free throws.
Tyler Dorsey was fouled in the ensuing dogpile and made two free throws with 9.8 seconds for the final margin.
While Brooks was the star for the Ducks, Dorsey was in a key supporting role. The freshman scored five straight points late, first following Elgin Cook's miss then hitting an open 3-pointer that gave Oregon a 61-60 lead with 1:53 remaining. Dorsey finished with 14 points and along with Brooks were the only two Oregon players to hit 3-pointers.
Cook added 18 points and Oregon won its 10th straight games.
Lamarr Kimble added 11 points off the bench for SJU after combining to score 11 points in the previous three games. He was the catalyst for a 23-6 run that erased a 10-point Oregon lead and gave the Hawks a 58-51 advantage with 5:30 left after he scored.
But a combination of foul trouble and Oregon's defense shut down St. Joe's Aaron Brown and Isaiah Miles. Brown finished with 10 points and Miles was held to eight points, the first time all season he failed to score in double figures. Miles had the game-winning 3-pointer in the Hawks' dramatic first-round win over Cincinnati.