(Thursday, March 26)
Final Score: Notre Dame 81, Wichita State 70
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) – Mike Brey called a timeout early in the second half after Wichita State took its first lead of the night. Whatever was said in the huddle apparently provided a spark, as Notre Dame took over and rolled to an 81-70 win that ended its long Elite Eight drought. Notre Dame lit up the usually-stingy Shockers for 48 points in the second half on 18- of-24 (75 percent) shooting, including a 6-of-8 effort from behind the arc. Four Notre Dame players scored in double figures, and a fifth, Wooden Award finalist Jerian Grant, provided 11 assists with just two turnovers to go along with nine points. Demetrius Jackson poured in 20 points on only 10 shots, and Pat Connaughton added 16 with 10 rebounds in the convincing win. The third-seeded Irish (32-5), whose last trip to the Elite Eight came in 1979, will face undefeated Kentucky in the Midwest Region final on Saturday. Fred VanVleet and Darius Carter carried seventh-seeded Wichita State (30-5) with 25 and 22 points, respectively, while Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton and Evan Wessel combined for just 15 points on 4-of-21 shooting.
Final Score: Kentucky 78, West Virginia 39
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) – West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. will surely think twice the next time he makes a bold prediction. Kentucky made sure of that, as the unbeaten Wildcats embarrassed Miles and the Mountaineers 78-39 in a Sweet 16 mismatch on Thursday night. The Mountaineers’ press was rendered irrelevant because Kentucky (37-0) simply refused to let them score. West Virginia was limited to an ugly .241 field goal percentage, turned it over 13 times and trailed by as many as 41. Trey Lyles scored 14 points, Andrew Harrison added 13, and Aaron Harrison, Devin Booker and Dakari Johnson each chipped in 12 for the victors. Standing in the way of Kentucky’s fourth Final Four appearance in five years is Notre Dame. The Midwest Region final will take place on Saturday. Juwan Staten led the Mountaineers (25-10) with 14 points, while Miles, who was quoted as saying Kentucky was going to be “36-1,” was held without a point.
Final Score: Wisconsin 79, North Carolina 72
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) – Sam Dekker had a career-high 23 points to go with 10 rebounds and Wisconsin advanced to the West Regional final for a second straight year with a 79-72 win over North Carolina. Frank Kaminsky netted 15 of his 19 points in the second half and added eight rebounds for top-seeded Wisconsin (34-3), which will play Arizona in the Elite Eight Saturday. Wisconsin shot 57.7 percent (15-of-26) from the field in the second half after going just 36.7 percent (11-of-30) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson each scored 15 points for the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (26-12), who defeated No. 5 seed Arkansas to reach the Sweet 16.
Final Score: Arizona 68, Xavier 60
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) – Sean Miller beat his good friend Chris Mack to get Arizona back into the West Regional final. Now it’s time to exact some revenge. T.J. McConnell had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Wildcats pulled away from Xavier 68-60 Thursday night to set up a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight against Wisconsin. The Badgers edged the Wildcats in a West Regional final OT thriller, 64-63, in Anaheim last year. Arizona (34-3) advanced to the Elite Eight for the third time in its last five seasons. Matt Stainbrook led Xavier (23-14) with 17 points.