2024 March Madness scores, winners and losers: Tennessee back to Sweet 16, Kansas falls, is on to next year



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The theme surrounding Saturday’s second-round NCAA Tournament slate was a lack of upsets. Seven of the eight winners were lower-seeded teams.  No. 11 seed Oregon looked like it might provide a late-night upset, but ran out of gas in the second overtime of an 86-73 loss to Creighton. The lone exception came from Gonzaga, which blew out No. 4 seed Kansas, 89-68.

The win gave the No. 5 seed Bulldogs their ninth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance and opened the door for an intriguing showdown against the winner of (1) Purdue and (8) Utah State next week. Kansas failed to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament after opening the season as the preseason No. 1 team.

Jayhawks coach Bill Self lamented on the team’s lack of firepower after the loss. 

“I think for the last month, I’ve been thinking about next season, to be honest,” Self said. “Not in the moments during the game, but obviously, we played — we had eight guys on scholarship, and we play — I mean, that were healthy there late. Injuries are part of the game. That’s not an excuse.

“But we could have done a much better job as a staff of putting more guys out there that we could play, and so that’s something that I’ve thought about for a long time. The thing about it is, in basketball, early on you can play through some things. But the course of a season, there’s a grind that goes with it and bodies get run down, injuries occur. It’s all part of it. When you don’t have as much firepower or that maybe you’ve had in past years, it certainly showed this year.”

The first overtime game of the second round was a thrilling finish back-and-forth contest between March Madness darlings Oakland and NC State. The Wolfpack held off a late second-half surge from Oakland behind 24 points from big man D.J. Burns Jr. in the 79-73 win. 

No. 7 seed Texas gave No. 2 seed Tennessee all it could handle down the stretch before SEC Player of the Year Dalton Knecht knocked down two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining to seal a 62-58 win. The Volunteers advanced to their third Sweet 16 since 2019. 

Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 30 points in a win over No. 11 seed Duquesne. Shannon has scored at least 25 points in his last six games to help the Fighting Illini punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Here are the winners and losers from Saturday’s action.

Winner: Gonzaga makes ninth straight Sweet 16

No. 5 seed Gonzaga reached its ninth straight Sweet 16 by throttling No. 4 seed Kansas 89-68. The Zags outscored KU 46-24 in the second half, making another statement two days after crushing No. 12 seed McNeese 86-65. Gonzaga fell out of the AP poll for six weeks during WCC play after starting 11-5. The Zags were struggling to build an at-large resume, and their streak of eight consecutive Sweet 16 appearances seemed like it could be ending. Really, all this team needed was time. With program legend Drew Timme gone after four seasons and transfers Ryan Nembhard and Graham Ike finding their way, the Zags jelled in the season’s second half after the national spotlight had faded. An 89-85 win at Kentucky on Feb. 10 showed where this team was headed. We should have paid more attention. — David Cobb

Loser: Kansas limps to the finish line

Kansas won 23 contests — including an NCAA Tournament game — and spent 17 weeks in the top 10 of the AP poll. But KU’s 2023-24 season will nonetheless go down as one of the worst in coach Bill Self’s 21-year tenure. Much of it had to do with the program’s roster construction — or lack thereof. 

The Jayhawks lost a pair of top-100 commitments from their 2023 recruiting class as Marcus Adams Jr. and Chris Johnson both opted to attend other Big 12 schools. Kansas also rolled the dice on Texas transfer Arterio Morris, despite the fact that he’d previously been accused of domestic violence. He was then charged with rape and dismissed from the team before the season. 

With Towson transfer Nic Timberlake and the freshman pair of Elmarko Jackson and Jamari McDowell struggling to meet expectations, the Jayhawks were perilously light on depth. A bone bruise for star wing Kevin McCullar Jr. proved to be the death knell. He was unable to play in the NCAA Tournament, and KU just didn’t have the horses needed to meet the program’s typical standard. That was painfully apparent in the Jayhawks’ uncompetitive second-half performance against Gonzaga. — Cobb

Creighton wins a thriller

After the opening day of the second round of the NCAA Tournament was filled with blowouts, No. 3 seed Creighton’s dramatic 86-73 double-overtime win over No. 10 seed Oregon provided a spark. Creighton stars Steven Ashworth, Baylor Scheierman, and Ryan Kalkbrenner delivered big individual performances to help the Bluejays advance to the Sweet 16. No. 3 seed Creighton’s upcoming matchup with Tennessee next week is already one of the best games on the schedule. If Baylor Scheierman misses the game-tying jumper at the end of regulation, then we never get treated to a thrilling finish. — Cameron Salerno

Winner: Arizona role players step up

Keshad Johnson and Jaden Bradley rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in scoring for Arizona. But with leading scorer Caleb Love making just 1 of 8 attempts in the second half, they stepped up to help the No. 2 seed Wildcats beat No. 7 seed Dayton 78-68. Both players produced nine points after the break and combined to hit 7 of 11 shots from the floor. Bradley also finished with three steals and three blocks while Johnson added seven rebounds and two steals. Johnson’s nasty dunk helped propel the Wildcats to their second Sweet 16 appearance in the past three seasons. — Cobb

Loser: Saturday provides little drama

Unless you’re adept at predicting college basketball outcomes or have resorted to choosing your winners based on the aesthetics of the mascots, chances are your bracket is toast. The average college basketball fan (with no rooting interest) is likely cheering for chaos and underdog stories the rest of the way. Saturday provided little of that, as seven of the eight higher-seeded teams won. The positive news is Day 2 of the second round has the potential for plenty of upsets. — Salerno

Iowa State entered the day ranked second nationally in turnovers forced per game at 17.5, which is impressive considering the Cyclones don’t play a particularly fast pace. In a 67-56 win over No. 7 seed Washington State, the No. 2 seed Cyclones played true to their identity with a 13-6 turnover margin. That led to a 21-4 edge in points off turnovers. It may not always (or ever) be pretty with Iowa State, but third-year coach T.J. Otzelberger has his team in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years after inheriting a program that went 2-22 in 2020-21. — Cobb

Winner: NC State’s unfathomable run continues

NC State never won more than four straight games during the regular season. After outlasting No. 14 seed Oakland 79-73 in overtime, the No. 11 seed Wolfpack have won seven in a row during the postseason. The improbable run is moving on to Dallas and next week’s Sweet 16 as the Wolfpack make their first appearance in a regional semifinal since 2015. DJ Burns Jr. was the hero yet again as he led a contingent of five NC State players in double figures with 24 points and 11 rebounds. The formidable big man has reached double figures in every game of his team’s postseason journey. — Cobb

Loser: Duquesne’s shining moment goes dark

On a day full of games that were generally close — or at least close for a half — the one exception came as No. 3 Illinois crushed No. 11 seed Duquesne 89-63. The Illini took a double-digit advantage at the 13:58 mark of the first half and never looked back. The Dukes made a splash by upsetting No. 6 seed BYU on Thursday but went out quietly. Nonetheless, it was a memorable March for retiring coach Keith Dambrot, who led his team to an unexpected A-10 Tournament title and the program’s first win in the Big Dance since 1969. — Cobb

Winner: Tennessee survives a clunker

Tennessee is now 10-1 when it makes fewer than eight 3-pointers after outlasting No. 7 seed Texas 62-58. The No. 2 seed Volunteers have garnered attention this season for their improved offense, but defense continues to be the program’s lifeblood. Without it, the abysmal shooting performance would have sent the Volunteers home. Instead, they are making consecutive Sweet 16 appearances for the first time since Bruce Pearl’s tenure as coach. –– Cobb





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