March Madness Winners and Losers: Alabama Rises in Sweet 16; The red-hot Duke goes down against Tennessee

March Madness went ahead and went, well, crazy action on the first day of Round 2 on Saturday to kick-start the weekend. A day after Purdue, No. 1, was booted to the curb by Fairleigh Dickinson, No. 16, a second, No. 1, was sent home — and it was a big one, as reigning champ Kansas in a versus the No. 8, Arkansas, fell insane. The Jayhawks led or were ahead for all but 114 seconds of the 2,400 played in two halves of the action, but they didn’t as the clock stalled at a 72 -71 loss struck to zero.

Lo and behold, that wasn’t even the most surprising result of the day.

15th-seeded Princeton, who holed their ticket to the Sweet 16, was the real shocker of Saturday’s standings in terms of point distribution. Princeton knocked off Missouri 78-63 from No. 7 to become the fourth 15-seeded player to reach the Sweet 16 in tournament history, giving us our first official Cinderella story of the year. The Sweet 16 finish was Princeton’s first in 56 years (!!) – 18 years before the tournament expansion – and gave the Ivy League the first team to dance in the Sweet 16 since Cornell did it in 2010.

That’s just a fraction of the merchandise that was delivered on Saturday, when we hit the second-round half-time mark. The rest – in winner and loser fashion – is detailed below.

Let’s dive in.

Winner: Alabama looks unstoppable against Maryland

1-seeded Alabama looked very much like No. 1 overall in this year’s tournament in a dominant, runaway 73-51 win over 8-seeded Maryland. The Tide have been targeting teams in SEC games all season, and they did the same against the Terps, topping them 45-28 in the second half to distance themselves en route to a Sweet 16-bed . Freshman star Brandon Miller contributed 19 points after going scoreless in the first round, and Jahvon Quinerly led all scorers with 22 points. The win propelled Alabama into the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons under coach Nate Oats after failing to do so in 16 years through 2021.

Loser: Reigning champion Kansas is eliminated early

Vegas knows, folks. Vegas always knows. This could be the takeaway from Saturday’s No. 1 Kansas second-round loss to No. 8 Arkansas. The Jayhawks were the shortest second-round favorite for a No. 1 in nearly three decades — favored by just 3.5 points without the services of Hall of Famer coach Bill Self — and ended in a 72-71 loss at the end of the season Season Arkansas in a madness. The guaranteed loss of at least two No. 1-Seeds would be the second weekend of Big Dance after No. 1-Seed not see Purdue fell to number 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round on Fridaywhich is the biggest surprise in tournament history.

“It was a tough game. A fight,” said KU interim coach Norm Roberts. “It was hard not having a coach here. But we find no excuses. We have to line up and get it done and we fell a bit short today.”

Winner: Houston packs away an angry Auburn

About as close to an away game as a second-round NCAA tournament game, No. 1 Houston held off No. 9 Auburn in Birmingham, Alabama to beat his Sweet 16 ticket in style with an 81-. 64 win. The Cougars appeared to be on shaky ground in the second round as Marcus Sasser struggled with a groin injury and Jamal Shead with a knee injury, but they played their depth heavily as Tramon Mark posted a career-high 26 points to lead them to one Victory.

Auburn played Houston well into the second half and had a lead that grew to as much as 10 in the game, but as they’d done several times this season, they ran out of breath late and succumbed to several big Houston- Runs that helped put the game on hold. After losing No. 1 Purdue on Friday and No. 1 Kansas on Saturday, the Cougars — betting favorites to win it all if they entered the tournament — survived and saw their chances of winning it all even better.

Winner: Wounded UCLA rolls on

Without injured defensive star Jaylen Clark and big man Adem Bona dealing with a shoulder injury, the UCLA No. 2 held the leap into the Sweet 16 with an impressive 68-63 win over the No. 7 Northwestern thanks a late-occurring elite defensive . The Bruins held Northwestern until 2-of-12 shooting to end the game and produced some great performances from their stars, with Jaime Jaquez Jr. carrying 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 on before twisting his ankle.

Furman’s bid for No. 13 to become this year’s March Madness Cinderella story struck at midnight Saturday as No. 5 from San Diego State dominated the Paladins from start to finish with a 75-52 win and into the Sweet 16 rise. The Aztecs started slow but roared by half-time to a 14-point lead that grew to 26 points in the second half as they advanced to the regional semifinals. Furman was a feel-good story in the first round after beating No. 4 seed Virginia, but he fought off SDSU’s devastating defense, committing nine turnovers and shooting a dismal 16-of-50 from the field. The Paladins also struggled to slow SDSU’s balanced offensive attack, with four Aztecs – led by Micah Parrish’s 16 points – finishing in double figures in the afternoon.

“We prepared hard, we knew they were good and then we played a really good game on both sides of the court today,” SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said after the game. “We put our hat on defence. We do that in every game. When we get the opportunity to make shots and play well offensively, we’re very good.”

Loser: Duke fails to find form in the loss to Vols

Tennessee dropped out mid-season, losing point guard Zakai Zeigler, while Duke came on Saturday as one of – if not – on a 10-game winning streak The – the hottest team in college basketball. So picture this: The Vols smoked the Blue Devils 65-52 to get into the Sweet 16 in a game that wasn’t as close late on.

Tennessee’s stifling defense bested Duke and his talented roster by limiting Duke to a season-low 52 points in the win. The Vols forced 15 turnovers and converted them to 18 points in their column, effectively making the difference in the game.

“We love offense, we love high scoring, fun basketball, but clearly Tennessee’s defensive strength and effort and execution, complemented by timely and good offense [was the difference]’ said Clark Kellogg, an analyst at CBS Sports.

Winger Olivier Nkamhoua was the breakout star of the session, after overcoming a 4-point win in the first half to explode 23 points in the second half – including a stretch where he scored 13 straight points. He finished with 27 points, five boards and a Heckuva highlight reel finish to cap off a sensational day.

Winner: Princeton stays cool against Mizzou

No. 7-seeded Missouri has forced 10 or more turnovers in every game this season. Until Saturday. 15th-seeded Princeton turned it just nine times against Mizzou’s relentless pressure on his way to a dominant 78-63 win over his SEC opponent. With the win, Princeton became only the fourth Ivy League team to reach the Sweet 16 in modern times, and the first since Cornell in 2010. Equally impressive was Princeton on the glass with a 19-2 advantage in points the second chance dominated . After beating Arizona and beating Mizzou on Thursday, Princeton hardly feels like an underdog anymore. The Tigers are a confident, rock-solid bunch marching into the Sweet 16.

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

A dream run to the Big Ten tournament title game and a first-round NCAA tournament win for Penn State ended in Round 2 against 2-seeded Texas as the 10-seeded Nittany Lions lost 71-66. Penn State stayed to the end, briefly leading in the final minutes, but Texas — who holed their first ticket to the Sweet 16 since 2008 — turned on cruise control to make six of their last six field goal attempts to shut the stretch separate .

“I thought our guys came in and competed at a very high level,” said UT coach Rodney Terry. “This has been a very resilient group all year. Basketball is a running game. I think this team has done that at a very high level since January 1st.” March Madness Winners and Losers: Alabama Rises in Sweet 16; The red-hot Duke goes down against Tennessee

Chris Estrada

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