A pair of marquee matchups featuring top seeds kicked off Elite Eight action at the 2016 NCAA tournament Saturday night, and expectations were sky-high given the caliber of the programs that hit the hardwood.
With spots in the Final Four on the line, the No. 1 seed University of Oregon Ducks and No. 2 seed University of Oklahoma Sooners squared off for West Region superiority, while the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks and No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats clashed for the right to represent the South Region in Houston next weekend.
Beyond regional bragging rights, each esteemed program was seeking to make history Saturday night. Oregon was trying to return to the Final Four for the first time since it won the whole thing in 1939, while Oklahoma was hoping to secure a spot in the national semifinals for the first time since 2002.
In the night's late matchup, Kansas and Villanova sought to snap three- and six-year Final Four droughts, respectively.
With that established, here's a look at some of the top social media reaction from Saturday's top-flight showdowns.
Oklahoma 80, Oregon 68
Buddy Hield led Oklahoma with an immaculate scoring display. The Sooners are headed back to the Final Four for the first time in 14 years after they captured an 80-68 win over the Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Oregon becomes the first No. 1 seed to fall 😢https://t.co/xV6GCcFFXT— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 27, 2016
Hield finished with 37 points on 13-of-20 shooting (8-of-13 from three), which thrust him into elite NCAA tournament territory, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Buddy Hield is 1st player with at least 30 pts vs a 1 seed in Elite 8 or later since Carmelo Anthony did so for Syracuse in 2003 vs Texas— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 26, 2016
Hield started off en fuego as he converted each of his first three three-point attempts—all of which came in the first five minutes, six seconds of the opening frame:
Buddy Hield right now 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/EvWfZdLfN8— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 26, 2016
Naturally, Hield's explosive display brought out a picture-perfect Buddy the Elf shoutout from CBS Sports' Robby Kalland:
Buddy Status: Already Lit pic.twitter.com/RCaoCY0GiC— Robby Kalland (@RKalland) March 26, 2016
Meanwhile, SB Nation's Ryan Nanni outlined his hopes for Hield's eventual NBA employment with the help of Georgia-born rapper Bubba Sparxxx:
Hoping Hield somehow ends up getting drafted by Atlanta so their fans can chant BUDDY BUDDY BUDDY BUDDY ROCKIN EVERYWHERE— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) March 26, 2016
In the midst of another signature performance from Hield, ESPN Stats & Info noted that the sweet-shooting swingman made a bit of history:
At 4:29 left in the 1st half, Buddy Hield has passed Andre Emmett for 2nd on the Big 12's all time scoring list.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 26, 2016
He is 26 away from 1st.
Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer noted Hield could ultimately fly up draft boards since his perimeter-oriented game is tailor-made for modern NBA offenses:
Doesn’t today’s Steph-centric NBA push Buddy’s value up come draft time? Marketable star who’s likely the PotY.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) March 26, 2016
Hield entered halftime with 17 points—15 of which came from distance—which caused CBS Sports to break out some more Elf goodness:
Buddy lighting up Oregon like... pic.twitter.com/u3FM15lKfc— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 26, 2016
Down 18 points at halftime, Oregon couldn't help but ask Hield and the Sooners to take it easy:
When the second half rolled around, Oklahoma ignored Oregon's polite request:
The Ducks looked like they were primed to chip away at the Sooners' lead several times throughout the second half, but Hield and Co. responded with buckets time and again to maintain a double-digit edge.
If the Sooners can maintain the same sort of prolific scoring output they flashed throughout their stay in Anaheim, they may wind up hoisting some serious hardware when their time in Houston comes to a close.
Villanova 64, Kansas 59
Could it be the year of the No. 2 seed?
After Oklahoma took care of the Ducks in convincing fashion, Villanova outlasted the Jayhawks, 64-59, to clinch its first Final Four berth since 2009 and deny Kansas a shot at its first national title since 2008:
Villanova denies Kansas' Final Four bid! https://t.co/P03wo8cUj2— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 27, 2016
Once Villanova's Jalen Brunson hit a pair of free throws to ice things and put his team up five, the Wildcats went nuts on the floor of the KFC Yum! Center, as NCAA March Madness on Twitter documented:
Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia's John Clark snapped some pictures from the scene of Villanova basking in the glow of its victory:
Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel used Villanova's win as a way to put the Pac-12's struggles in perspective:
The Big East imploded, started over from scratch and still got back to the Final Four before the Pac-12.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 27, 2016
Villanova alum and former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook also took some time to chime in on the Wildcats' big win:
We are NOT done yet!!!— Brian Westbrook (@36westbrook) March 27, 2016
Finally, ESPN Stats & Info broke down the degree to which Kansas' offense struggled against one of the nation's most impressive defenses:
Kansas scored season-low 59 points and averaged 0.91 points per possession, its second-worst offensive efficiency of the season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 27, 2016
With the win in hand, Villanova will meet Oklahoma next weekend in Houston for a chance to play in the National Championship against the winner of a bout between the East and Midwest Region winners.
And boy should it be a good one.
Not only do the Wildcats and Sooners rank third and 13th, respectively, in KenPom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency metric, but the showdown should be a contrast in scoring styles.
While the Sooners figure to go as far as Hield will take them, Villanova embraces a more balanced approach that features an array of options who can score inside and out.
In a game that may very well evolve into a shootout, expect fireworks to rule the day in the Lone Star State.
Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four.