March Madness 2019: Top Social Media Highlights for Sunday's Elite 8

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2019

Cassius Winston and the Michigan State Spartans overcame a powerful Duke team in the regional finals.
Cassius Winston and the Michigan State Spartans overcame a powerful Duke team in the regional finals.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

It took overtime for one and a lead change in the final minute for the other, but Auburn and Michigan State prevailed and are joining Texas Tech and Virginia as the teams that are headed to the Final Four in Minneapolis next weekend.

The Spartans outlasted the Duke Blue Devils 68-67 in the East Regional final, as the two college basketball heavyweights exchanged punches for 40 minutes, and Michigan State's ability to rally at the end of both halves proved instrumental.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

ONIONS https://t.co/zCI7znW1Ah

Michigan State used a 13-0 run at the end of the first half and a 5-1 blitz in the final 90 seconds to earn the narrow victory. Kenny Goins hit the go-ahead three-point shot for Michigan State that proved to be the winning points in the game.

"We got some warriors here," said Tom Izzo during his postgame interview with Tracy Wolfson on CBS. "We withstood some big runs, and we came through."

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

.@MSU_Basketball UPSETS DUKE AND IS HEADED TO THE #FINALFOUR! 😱 #MarchMadness | #Elite8 https://t.co/dbysnN9szp

The Spartans were led by Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston. He had the ball in his hands on nearly every possession, and he had a game-high 20 points, 10 assists and four steals. Teammate Xavier Tillman added 19 points and nine rebounds.

Michigan State overcame a huge effort from star freshman Zion Williamson, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds. Williamson was especially effective in the second half when he netted 17 points. Fellow freshman RJ Barrett added 21 points, while Javin DeLaurier had 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR https://t.co/O458KZtbiE

The Spartans had lost 11 of 12 games to Duke under Izzo, and they will face the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 8:49 p.m. ET on CBS in the second of two national semifinal games Saturday in Minneapolis.

Fifth-seeded Auburn outlasted second-seeded Kentucky by a 77-71 margin in overtime in the Midwest Regional final.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Chuma Okeke gets the honor of stamping @AuburnMBB's place in the #FinalFour! 👏 #MarchMadness https://t.co/x81rfIi4xR

Auburn was playing without star sophomore forward Chuma Okeke, who suffered a torn ACL in Friday's Sweet 16 victory over North Carolina. Jared Harper poured in 26 points to lead the Tigers and Bryce Brown had 24 points and made eight of 12 shots from the floor. PJ Washington had 28 points and 13 rebounds to lead Kentucky.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

*exhale deeply* We are going to overtime. https://t.co/GnaV1EsiRa

Harper and Anfernee McLemore did most of the damage for Auburn in overtime. The Tigers built a seven-point lead late in the extra session, and Kentucky could not catch up. 

Auburn is going to the Final Four for the first time in school history, but it wouldn't have happened if Harper didn't hit the tying basket with 38 seconds left in the second half.

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

.@AuburnMBB IS DANCING TO THE #FINALFOUR FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! 🕺 #MarchMadness https://t.co/5zTtT7QZ0l

He also got the Tigers off to a great start in the extra session by scoring the first four points.

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl was once again overcome with emotion following the Elite Eight victory. He explained that getting to the Final Four meant a great deal to a school with the athletic prowess of Auburn.

"We wanted to make history," Pearl said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "You have to understand, at Auburn in athletics, we're not Cinderellas in anything. We're really, really good in all those other sports. We win championships. Been a long time since men's basketball has been good."

"Our kids just played so hard," Pearl said when interviewed on the court after the game by CBS. "We pressed up so hard on the basketball. This little Jared Harper, he did so much. I'm so happy for the people of Auburn who are going to the Final Four for the first time ever!"

Kentucky head coach John Calipari praised the victors. "They deserved to win the game," Calipari said in the postgame press conference (h/t CBS). "We got outplayed and outcoached, but still had a chance to win the game. I thought we were going to win the game until the one or two plays in overtime."

Auburn will face Virginia at 6:09 p.m. in the first national semifinal game.