The NCAA tournament started out with 68 teams, and one week later, 16 teams remain in the hunt for the National Championship.
Duke, the No. 1 seed overall, is one of those that remains in the hunt, and the Blue Devils will be playing the fourth-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sweet 16.
Looking ahead does not tell the story for the Blue Devils. Instead of romping over ninth-seeded UCF, they needed a near-miracle to win the game. Trailing by three as the final seconds drained off the clock, superstar Zion Williamson took the ball into the paint and made a layup over 7'6" Tacko Fall with 14.4 seconds to play.
Williamson was fouled on the play, and while he missed the free throw, R.J. Barrett got the rebound and finished the putback to give Duke a 77-76 lead. UCF, coached by former Duke star and assistant coach Johnny Dawkins, had a final possession to win the game.
B.J. Taylor missed a short shot, but Aubrey Dawkins (Johnny Dawkins' son) swooped in and took the rebound. His putback tantalized as it rolled around the rim before finally falling out, and that allowed the Blue Devils to survive and advance in the East bracket of the tournament.
Both Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Dawkins were emotional after the game. They embraced after the game for long seconds, and Krzyzewski had empathy for his former charge when he assessed the results.
"I love Johnny. I'm going to start crying. I love Johnny Dawkins," he said, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com. "The moments, the times we've spent together and building the program and 10 years on our staff and the connections we've had with him at Stanford and Central Florida, we're family. I feel bad they lost. It's like a yin and a yang because they were deserving of winning."
The Blue Devils will play again Friday night, while the Knights must wait until next season.
Here's the schedule for all the Sweet 16 games that will be played Thursday and Friday (all times ET), along with predicted scores:
Thursday, March 28
West Region, Anaheim, California
Florida State (4) vs. Gonzaga (1), 7:09 p.m., CBS, Gonzaga 92, Florida State 87
Texas Tech (3) vs. Michigan (2), 9:39 p.m., CBS, Michigan 77, Texas Tech 70
South Region, Louisville, Kentucky
Purdue (3) vs. Tennessee (2), 7:29 p.m., TBS, Tennessee 71, Purdue 70
Oregon (12) vs. Virginia (1), 9:59 p.m., TBS, Virginia 68, Oregon 60
Friday, March 29
East Region, Washington, DC
LSU (3) vs. Michigan State (2), 7:09 p.m., CBS, Michigan State 72, LSU 58
Virginia Tech (4) vs. Duke (1), 9:39 p.m., CBS, Duke 81, Virginia Tech 75
Midwest Region, Kansas City, Missouri
Auburn (5) vs. North Carolina (1), 7:29 p.m., TBS, North Carolina 91, Auburn 88
Houston (3) vs. Kentucky (2), 9:59 p.m., TBS, Kentucky 78, Houston 69
Florida State vs. Gonzaga
The fourth-seeded Seminoles will try to take down the top-seeded Bulldogs in Anaheim, California, but it will be a difficult assignment.
Florida State (29-7) finished fourth in the ACC, but the Seminoles have been anything but a middle-of-the-pack team in its first two NCAA tournament games.
After beating Vermont 76-69 in the first round, the Seminoles overwhelmed Murray State and Ja Morant by a 92-60 margin.
Forward Mfiondu Kabengele led Florida State in scoring in both games with 21 against the Catamounts and 22 against the Racers. He leads his team with an average of 13.4 points per game while hitting 50.6 percent of his shots.
Guard Terrance Mann is averaging 11.6 points and connecting on 51.6 percent of his shots, including more than 41 percent from beyond the arc.
Gonzaga (32-3) has had a dominant year, and it has not been pressed in its first two tournament victories over Fairleigh Dickinson and Baylor.
The Seminoles represent a major step up, and the Bulldogs will have to be prepared for their ability to put scoring runs together.
The Bulldogs are led by power forward Rui Hachimura, who is averaging 19.7 points and connecting on 60.3 percent of his shots. Fellow frontliner Brandon Clarke is contributing 17.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while connecting on 69.9 percent of his shots.
Florida State is good enough to push Gonzaga well into the second half, but the Bulldogs will prevail in the final five minutes and move on to the Elite Eight.
LSU vs. Michigan State
LSU (28-6) finished first in the Southeastern Conference this season, and they went into the SEC tournament with five straight wins, but they were upset by the Florida Gators in their first game.
However, the Tigers have managed to win two tight games against Yale and Maryland to earn the opportunity to play in Washington D.C. Tremont Waters hit the winning layup against the Terrapins with 1.6 seconds remaining to key the victory for LSU.
Waters is the Tigers' leading scorer with an average of 15.6 ppg, and he will try to lead his team to a second victory over a Big Ten opponent. However, the Spartans are a much tougher and more consistent team than the Terrapins, and that will make it that much harder for Waters, Naz Reid (13.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Skylar Mays (13.6 ppg) to be successful.
The Spartans (30-6) were initially unhappy with their No. 2 seed and having to play in the same bracket as Duke. As a result, Michigan State looked somewhat distracted in their opening-round victory over Bradley.
Michigan State and Bradley exchanged leads for 35 minutes before the Spartans put the game away in the final five minutes. Head coach Tom Izzo's team was back on track in the second round with an easy 70-50 triumph over Big Ten rival Minnesota.
Cassius Winston is Michigan State's best all-around player and top scorer, and he is averaging 18.9 points and 7.5 assists per game. Nick Ward is scoring 13.7 ppg, while sparkplug Matt McQuaid is contributing 9.9 points per game and hitting 43.9 percent of his three-point shots.
LSU will come after Michigan State hard, but the Spartans are not going to be denied at this point and will prevail.