NCAA Tournament 2016: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for Elite 8
The last two days of play in the Elite Eight produced plenty of drama and a few unlikely Final Four participants.
The No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners booked the first ticket to Houston on Saturday, while the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats joined them following a win over the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks.
Jim Boeheim's No. 10 Syracuse Orange came out on top against the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers after they put together a tremendous comeback in the Midwest region final.
The No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels closed out the weekend with a victory in Philadelphia over the No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Continue reading for recaps and analysis for all four of the Elite Eight contests.
Midwest Final: No. 10 Syracuse 68, No. 1 Virginia 62
The No. 10 Syracuse Orange resurrected their championship hopes on Sunday and pulled off one of the most shocking comebacks in Elite Eight history against the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers.
Virginia broke out to a 14-point lead at halftime behind the stellar shooting of London Perrantes, who knocked down five shots from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
The Cavaliers appeared to have a victory locked up, but Syracuse surged back into the contest after the halfway point of the second half.
Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon hit back-to-back three-pointers with seven minutes remaining to pull within three of Virginia. A Richardson layup handed the Orange their first lead since the 13:09 mark of the first period with 5:51 to go.
Syracuse closed out the game on a 29-8 run to advance to Final Four for the first time since 2013.
Richardson, a freshman, was the catalyst of the unlikely comeback for the Orange. He ended with 23 points on just 6-of-16 shooting. Perrantes led Virginia with 18 points, but he only had three in the second half.
Lydon was one of the other key contributors to the Syracuse comeback. The freshman scored 11 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.
The Orange are off to Houston to face the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels in an ACC showdown on Saturday.
Update by Joe Tansey.
East Final: No. 1 North Carolina 88, No. 6 Notre Dame 74
The No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels secured the final spot in the Final Four on Sunday thanks to a dominant second half at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia against the No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
A high-powered first half turned into a second stanza of runs. The Tar Heels were threatened by the Fighting Irish in the middle of the second period, but Roy Williams and company responded with a fantastic run.
The biggest momentum swing of the ACC clash in the Elite Eight came with 12:20 remaining in the second half. Moments after the Tar Heels regained the lead following a 12-0 Notre Dame run, Theo Pinson stole the ball away from Bonzie Colson.
After Pinson's steal, the Tar Heels went on a 10-0 run that was highlighted by Pinson's alley-oop to Isaiah Hicks.
Hicks' slam with 9:21 to go put the dagger in the championship hopes of Notre Dame, who fell to the Kentucky Wildcats at the same stage a year ago.
Just like he has all season, Brice Johnson commanded the paint in key stretches for the Tar Heels. Johnson recorded a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Demetrius Jackson contributed 26 of his own in defeat.
Pinson's steal with 12:20 left in the second stanza took the momentum away from a hungry Notre Dame team. The guard earned six points, four assists and two rebounds on Sunday.
The Tar Heels will face fellow ACC team Syracuse at 8:49 p.m. ET on Saturday in the Final Four.
Update by Joe Tansey.
South Final: No. 2 Villanova 64, No. 1 Kansas 59
The No. 2 Villanova Wildcats advanced to their first Final Four since 2009 with a thrilling victory over the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Villanova went into the locker room with a seven-point advantage thanks to some strong defense against Kansas star Perry Ellis, who was scoreless through 20 minutes.
The top-seeded Jayhawks captured the lead with just over 13 minutes left in the contest, but Villanova responded with a pair of three-pointers from Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart to pull ahead with eight minutes to go.
Frank Mason III helped Kansas threaten the Wildcats' lead in the final minute as he knocked down a triple with 25 seconds remaining, but Villanova fended off the Jayhawk challenge by going 6-of-6 from the free-throw line from that point.
Arcidiacono was one of three Villanova players to score 13 points. The senior went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line and made four key foul shots in the final minute. Devonte' Graham led Kansas with 17 points, but he fouled out during the closing stages of the contest.
Mikal Bridges provided the Wildcats with great defense and a few big plays while Kris Jenkins sat on the bench with four fouls for the majority of the second half. Bridges made an acrobatic layup off an offensive rebound to put Villanova ahead 56-52 with 4:31 left.
The Wildcats are off to Houston to face Oklahoma in one of Saturday's two Final Four clashes.
Update by Joe Tansey.
West Final: No. 2 Oklahoma 80, No. 1 Oregon 68
Buddy Hield powered the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners to their first Final Four appearance since 2002 on Saturday as they downed the No. 1 Oregon Ducks in the first regional final of the weekend.
Lon Kruger's Sooners took a 2-0 lead with 19:35 to go in the first stanza and never relinquished it at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Hield, who is the front-runner to win National Player of the Year, produced one of the best individual NCAA tournament performances in recent memory. The senior guard scored 37 points and tied a career high with eight three-pointers.
The Oklahoma star became the first player to score 30 points against a No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight or later since Carmelo Anthony did it for the Syracuse Orange against the Texas Longhorns in 2003, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Oregon was never really in the game, but the Ducks were able to cut the deficit to 12 halfway through the second half. However, Dana Altman's team couldn't challenge the Sooners during the final stretch of the contest.
Hield will grab all of the headlines, and rightfully so, thanks to his tremendous showing on Saturday night. The senior was 13-of-21 from the field and 8-of-13 from beyond the arc. Elgin Cook led the Ducks with 24 points, 11 of which came from the free-throw line.
The Sooners aren't just all about Hield. Fellow guards Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard combined for 24 points in the win over Oregon. Cousins contributed seven assists and five rebounds to go along with his 11 points.
The Sooners will face the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats in Houston on Saturday in the Final Four.
Update by Joe Tansey.