NCAA Tournament Elite 8 updates: UConn, Florida Atlantic advance to men's Final Four
March Madness, indeed! The men's NCAA Tournament has included all the mayhem expected during this time of year – with bracket-busting commonplace.
"The No. 1 overall seed doesn't guarantee you're going to win," Alabama coach Nate Oats said on the TBS broadcast after his team was upset.
After Friday's action, the Elite Eight was officially set, and it didn't feature a No. 1 seed for the first time in history, the Sweet 16 seeing No. 1 overall Alabama and No.1 Houston fall to No. 5 San Diego State and No. 5 Miami (Florida), respectively. Additionally, No. 6 Creighton and No. 2 Texas clinched spots into the weekend.
The Elite Eight began Saturday with No. 9 Florida Atlantic's victory over No. 3 Kansas State. Then, No. 4 UConn dominated No. 3 Gonzaga.
NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKETS: See who's alive as March Madness continues
Here's everything you need to know to be ready for the action:
No. 4 UConn dominates No. 3 Gonzaga to reach first Final Four since 2014
The Connecticut Huskies are headed to the Final Four for the first time since 2014 after demolishing the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 82-54, Saturday in the West Regional final.
No. 4 seed Connecticut shut down No. 3 Gonzaga with its smothering defense in an Elite Eight matchup at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga entered the game with the top-scoring offense in the country with 87 points per game. But the Bulldogs scored only 32 points in the first half, and things got even worse in the second half.
Sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins led Connecticut with 20 points.
Connecticut has won each of its four Tournament games by at least 15 points and moves into the Final Four for the first time under head coach Dan Hurley.
The Huskies had not won an NCAA Tournament game during the first four seasons of Hurley’s tenure. But in Year 5 they will play the Miami-Texas winner in a semifinal game at the Final Four in Houston.
On Saturday, Gonzaga star forward Drew Timme scored 12 in what is expected to be his last game for the Bulldogs. Last month he told The Athletic, “I’ve done my four years. I’m a senior, and I’m moving on.’’
In its first three games of the tournament, Connecticut won by an average of 20.3 points. Those lopsided victories over No. 13 seed Iona, No. 5 seed St. Mary’s and No. 8 seed Arkansas were a testament to the Huskies' talent as they rolled into the Elite Eight and then past Gonzaga.
For Gonzaga, the loss ended its hopes of reaching the Final Four for the second time in three seasons.
– Josh Peter
Drew Timme picks up fourth foul early in second half vs. UConn
As Connecticut pulled away in the second half, Gonzaga star Drew Timme found himself in an unfortunate place.
Timme headed there with 17:39 left to play and Connecticut leading by 10 points after he picked up his fourth foul in the Elite Eight match. One more foul and he’ll be on the bench for good.
But Gonzaga coach Mark Few put Timme back in the game about three minutes later – out of desperation. When Timme reentered the game, Gonzaga trailed 58-37.
Timme, a senior forward and Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer, had led the Bulldogs against the Huskies with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting before Few pulled him from the game after the fourth foul.
– Josh Peter
UConn leads Gonzaga after fierce first half
The No. 4 UConn Huskies lead the No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs 39-32 at the half of their Elite Eight game in Las Vegas.
After the Huskies went up 9-2 early, the Bulldogs crept back and took a 25-14 lead with 5:24 on the clock. But UConn utilized a well-balanced offense and took advantage of Gonzaga’s poor backcourt performance (only making one 3-point shot) to get back in front.
Juniors Andre Jackson Jr. and Adama Sonogo teamed up for a pair of plays down the stretch, including an exciting dunk, which the former is becoming known for. Sonogo already has a career-high five assists.
Freshman forward Alex Karaban leads the Huskies with 10 points. For the Bulldogs, senior forward Drew Timme and junior guard Julian Strawther each have nine points.
Florida Atlantic celebrates first trip to Final Four
The Florida Atlantic Owls are soaring high after beating the Kansas State Wildcats to earn their first Final Four berth.
Players jumped around elated after the team was handed the trophy. Still in uniform as his teammates donned their championship T-shirts, sophomore center Vladislav Goldin let out a yell. He recorded a double-double en route to the victory.
.@FAUMBB celebrates their first EVER trip to the Final Four 👏#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/FE9Tv3tI7i
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 26, 2023
The Owls cut down the net with joy beaming from their faces at Madison Square Garden, one of basketball’s most hallowed grounds.
– Victoria Hernandez
No. 9 Florida Atlantic takes down No. 3 Kansas State to reach Final Four
The Florida Atlantic Owls continued their fairy-tale run, earning a spot in the Final Four with a 79-76 victory over Kansas State Saturday in the East Regional final.
Florida Atlantic senior Michael Forrest made four clutch free throws in the final 18 seconds to help lift the ninth-seeded Owls past the third-seeded Wildcats.
Vladislav Golden, Florida Atlantic’s 7-foot-1 center, had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Markquis Nowell, Kansas State’s dynamic point guard, had 30 points and 12 assists.
Florida Atlantic trailed 63-57 when Nowell made a 3-pointer with 8:39 left to play. Then the Owls staged their comeback.
Florida Atlantic (35-3) will play the San Diego State-Creighton winner in a semifinal game at the Final Four in Houston.
The ninth-seeded Owls are making just their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament and had not won a Tournament game until this year. But they have been unstoppable, beating No. 8 Memphis, No. 15 Fairleigh Dickinson and then No. 4 Tennessee before upsetting Kansas State.
For Kansas State (26-10), the loss ended an unexpectedly stellar season. The Wildcats were picked last in the Big 12 preseason poll but finished third in the regular season before embarking on their postseason run.
In the Tournament, the Wildcats beat No. 14 Montana State, No. 6 Kentucky No. 7 Michigan State before falling one game shy of reaching the Final Four for the first time since 1964.
Florida Atlantic made its first Tournament appearance in 2002. The Owls, seeded No. 15 that year, lost to No. 2 seed Alabama, 86-78.
– Josh Peter
Half: No. 9 FAU 42, No. 3 Kansas State 38
Despite turning the ball over a dozen times, Florida Atlantic entered halftime with a four-point lead on Kansas State. The Owls maintained a slight lead by controlling the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats 22-9.
Vladislav Goldin is closing in on a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds, including four offensive rebounds. Alijah Martin added nine points.
Markquis Nowell leads Kansas State with 15 points and seven assists.
Saturday's Elite Eight slate
Half of the Elite Eight is set after a series of regional semifinals highlighted by perhaps the best game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
That would be No. 3 Kansas State's 98-93 overtime win against Michigan State that included a historic performance by senior point guard Markquis Nowell, who dished out a tournament-record 19 assists.
Also on Thursday, No. 4 Connecticut ran all over No. 8 Arkansas to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since winning the 2014 national championship; No. 9 Florida Atlantic pulled away from No. 4 Tennessee by leaning into the Volunteers' physical style; and No. 3 Gonzaga traded late buckets with No. 2 UCLA and pulled out a last-second win.
– Paul Myerberg
Parity creating ultimate March Madness chaos
In a span of mere minutes Friday night, two programs that have had lots of good seasons but rarely seemed like they’re on the cusp of anything significant, evicted the last two No. 1 seeds left, from this NCAA men's tournament.
And with those back-to-back results, this is officially the maddest March of them all.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, we don’t have a No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight.
— Dan Wolken
March Madness strikes again: No. 1 overall Alabama goes home
Oh, how the mighty fell on Friday.
Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA men's tournament, buckled late in a 71-64 loss to fifth-seeded San Diego State and were eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the South Regional.
The Crimson Tide squandered a nine-point lead in the second half as its quest for the first national championship in school history came to an abrupt end.
— Josh Peter
1 and done: Houston is out
Fifth-seeded Miami did more than upset top-seeded Houston in a Sweet 16 matchup Friday.
The Hurricanes walloped the Cougars 89-75 in the men’s NCAA Tournament that ended Houston’s hopes of playing for the school’s first national championship in its hometown.
And it means there will be no No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight for the first time.
— Josh Peter
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness bracket Elite 8 updates: UConn, FAU reach Final Four