Then with 1:24 remaining, sharpshooter Conor Frankamp — who had been held scoreless the entire night — finally got an open look and buried a 3-pointer to push Wichita’s lead back up to 7. Dayton, a No. 7 seed, could not recover.
Wichita was one of the most efficient offensive and defensive teams in the nation this season, but their low seeding reflected some lack of respect from the committee. The Shockers showed their toughness Friday, though, particularly how they defended the glass.
In other action, Duke’s Jayson Tatum became the first Blue Devils freshman to record a double-double in his N.C.A.A. tournament debut since Danny Ferry in 1986, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks in Duke’s 87-65 win over Troy.
And Kansas became the third team already this tournament to score in triple-digits, demolishing No. 16 seed U.C.-Davis, 100-62.
Rhode Island Too Much for Creighton
In its first N.C.A.A. tournament appearance in 18 years, No. 11 seeded Rhode Island played like it certainly belonged.
The Rams, led by Coach Danny Hurley, have relied on a tenacious half-court defense all season, and they ratcheted the pressure up against No. 6 Creighton, 84-72. Blue Jays’ stars Marcus Foster and Justin Patton combined to shoot 9-29 from the field and Creighton committed 11 turnovers. Rhode Island struggled with its outside shot (4-21 from 3-point) but still managed to put more than 80 points on the board.
The winners of the Atlantic-10 tournament championship are turning back the clock and looking like a team that seems capable of reaching the second weekend.
N.C.A.A. Leader Says Discrimination Policy Is Clear
The N.C.A.A. president, Mark Emmert, said Friday that the organization was standing behind the firm position it has staked out on anti-discrimination protections for athletes and fans, a decision that led it to bar North Carolina from hosting N.C.A.A. championship events like this week’s men’s basketball tournament.
Emmert was in Greenville on Friday, in fact, only because the N.C.A.A. had moved a set of first- and second-round games out of Greensboro, N.C., last year in response to a contentious state law that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“We have stated very clearly our views and values,” Emmert said. “I fully expect the board and I will act accordingly. To presuppose what any state is going to do is presumptuous and we’ll wait and see what happens there or anywhere else.”
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U.N.C.-Wilmington Coach Gets New Job One Day After Loss
It was largely assumed that U.N.C.-Wilmington Coach Kevin Keatts would land one of the available coaching jobs after leading the Seahawks to their first N.C.A.A. tournament in 11 years. But it happened faster than expected.
A little more than 24 hours after U.N.C.W. lost a tight battle with No. 5 seed Virginia, Keatts was hired by another A.C.C. team, North Carolina State, the school announced Friday night.
Keatts, a former Rick Pitino assistant, replaces Mark Gottfried, who was fired after six seasons.
Brief Break for Uncooperative Floor
Duke and Troy came out on the floor to warm up for the third game of the day in Greenville, S.C., and found four arena workers on their hands and knees about 19 feet from one of the baskets, trying to push down one of the wood panels that make up the floor. A corner of the slat had popped up during the earlier North Carolina-Texas Southern game and, in the officials’ view, presented a tripping hazard.
The crew pushed the corner back in place and secured it, then used a small sander to smooth out the repair. The referee Lamont Simpson proclaimed the floor playable and the teams took the court.
The N.C.A.A. supplies the floors for each of the tournament sites and uses them for three tournaments, then makes the floors available to schools. The Furman athletic director, Mike Buddie, said the floors cost between $90,000 and $100,000.
The N.C.A.A., which supplies the floors for each of the tournament sites, released a statement saying the concern was “a minor irregularity” that was quickly corrected.
“During the first session of today’s NCAA tournament games in Greenville, a minor irregularity was discovered on one of the panels on the playing court,” the statement said. “As is the case every year, our partners from Connor Sport Court are on site, and they quickly repaired the seam as soon as the North Carolina-Texas Southern game concluded. Once the repairs were made, players from Duke and Troy were given access to the court and each team had 46 minutes to warm up. The safety of the student-athletes remain our top priority.” — RAY GLIER
Trojans Advance Over S.M.U.
Like cockroaches in a nuclear winter or trick candles at a child’s birthday party, Southern California just does not go away. The Trojans, who needed to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit against Providence just to join the main field of the N.C.A.A. tournament, found themselves down by 12 against Southern Methodist on Friday, and well, whatever.
“You better get way away from them,” Southern Methodist Coach Tim Jankovich cautioned.
His No. 6 Mustangs could not, and it sunk them. Southern Cal, seeded 11th, grabbed its first lead with about 2 minutes remaining and, after a frenetic final sequence, held on to win, 66-65, in its East Region game. On the truTV telecast, the sideline reporter Dana Jacobson said it was the Trojans’ 13th comeback win from a double-digit deficit, and this, by far, was the sweetest.
With U.S.C. trailing by 65-63, Elijah Stewart, left open in the corner, drilled a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left. On S.M.U.’s next possession, Ben Moore was fouled but missed the first free throw of a one-and-one. Chimezie Metu of U.S.C. pulled down the rebound but he, too, missed the front end of a one-on-one, giving S.M.U. one final opportunity.
Driving into the lane, Shake Milton got a clear look but his leaner clanged off the front rim as time expired.
Southern Cal advances to play Baylor on Sunday.
Middle Tennessee State as a Final Four Team?
Most people who watched Thursday as Middle Tennessee State knocked a Big Ten Conference team out of the N.C.A.A. tournament for the second consecutive year would agree they deserved better than a No. 12 seed. Butler Coach Chris Holtmann, whose team faces the Blue Raiders in Saturday’s second round, took it a step further. Four times Friday, he called Middle Tennessee State a Final Four-caliber team.
“Now that you’ve had a chance to study them, there’s no question,” Holtmann said the day after the Blue Raiders upset fifth-seeded Minnesota, 81-72. “We play a lot of physical teams in the Big East, but they’re certainly one of the most physical teams we played all year. I think you can put them up there with anybody we played the entire year.”
Keep in mind, Butler beat top-ranked Villanova twice.
Was it standard pregame hyperbole? Perhaps. Nonetheless, M.T.S.U. — ranked No. 35 nationally in R.P.I. and No. 16 in non-conference strength of schedule — appears undervalued. The 31-4 Blue Raiders, champions of Conference USA, led the entire second half against Minnesota and easily won the rebounding battle.
“It wasn’t a disappointment because we were glad to be in the tournament, but it kind of alarmed us going forward,” MTSU Coach Kermit Davis said of his team’s seeding. “Everybody said you have to play a good non-conference strength of schedule. So what alarmed us is, what do we have to do next year or the year after?”
Arkansas Knocks Off Seton Hall
The N.C.A.A. tournament is known for buzzer-beaters, and fans have been getting restless for some this year. But a questionable call cost Seton Hall a chance to take a game-winning shot against Arkansas.
The game, like many between No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, lacked marquee value, but offered the tantalizing possibility that it would go down to the wire. The chances seemed good as the game stayed close: Neither team ever led by more than 8.
Seton Hall had the ball trailing by 1 point with 24 seconds to go, and last-second heroics seemed even more likely. But not much went right for Seton Hall after that.
First, Khadeen Carrington traveled, giving the ball to Arkansas. Forced to foul, Desi Rodriguez pushed Jaylen Barford, their feet tangled, and it was judged a flagrant foul. The call, quite unusual at the end of a game, gave Arkansas shots and the ball, and ultimately the 77-71 victory.
Arkansas escaped, but will have to up its game against (almost certainly) top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday.
The flagrant foul call fired up many fans and commentators, who almost unanimously felt it was incorrect.
Twenty-eight years ago, Seton Hall fans were also aggrieved by a late call, and the stakes were even higher. In the N.C.A.A. championship game, Michigan trailed Seton Hall by 1 in overtime and looked for a game-winning bucket. But before they took the shot, Gerald Greene was called for a foul on Rumeal Robinson. He made both free throws, and Michigan won. Seton Hall has not been back to the Final Four since.
Michigan Keeps Rolling
Michigan and Oklahoma State both had top-rated offenses. Both pressed the pace. And both made a lot of their shots on Friday. The result was an entertaining shootout won by Michigan, 92-91. The game’s 183 combined points were the most so far in the tournament, besting Arizona’s 100-82 blowout of North Dakota on Thursday.
Back and forth it went, with point guards Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State and Derrick Walton Jr. of Michigan, trading crazy shot for crazy shot, electric pass for electric pass, each reveling in the spotlight whenever the ball was in his hands.
Evans crossed over Duncan Robinson and laid in a shot off the glass. Walton helped his teammate avenge the moment, finding Robinson for an open 3-pointer. When Walton drilled a 3-pointer from the near end of the “March Madness” logo covering center court, Evans answered quickly with a layup for the Cowboys.
Someone had to have the last word, though, and ultimately it was Walton and Michigan: he connected on a runner in the lane with less than a minute to go, giving seventh-seeded Michigan just enough breathing room to escape with a victory in arguably the best game of the tournament so far.
“If somebody ever said we were going to give up 91 and we were going to win,” Michigan Coach John Beilein said, “I wouldn’t have thought that was going to happen.”
Walton, a senior, finished with 26 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists, connecting on five of six 3-point attempts in the second half. Evans, a sophomore known for his otherworldly court speed, finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 12 assists for the Cowboys.
Here’s the Michigan-Oklahoma State box score.
Baylor Starts Slow, Finishes Fast
An underwhelming first half conjured memories of Baylor’s previous first-round exits, but after exploiting their physical dominance against undersized New Mexico State, the Bears cruised to a 91-73 victory in the East Region. Over a 10-minute stretch of the second half, Baylor embarked on a 26-6 run to distance itself from the pesky Aggies, who stayed close with 3-point shooting and tough rebounding.
Baylor, seeded third, faltered down the stretch this season, losing six of its final 11 games, including its Big 12 tournament opener against Kansas State. But in shedding their reputation for N.C.A.A. tournament underachieving, the Bears also reasserted themselves as a contender in the East Region.
Both of their leading scorers, Terry Maston (19 points, 9 of 12 shooting) and Al Freeman (21 points, 3-of-3 from 3-point range), came off the bench to complement a robust front line featuring Johnathan Motley (15 points, 10 rebounds) and the 7-foot Jo Lual-Acuil. Next up is either Southern Methodist or Southern California.
Here’s the Baylor-New Mexico State box score.
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