NCAA Men's Tournament 2021: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for Sweet 16

Bleacher Report College Basketball StaffFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2021

NCAA Men's Tournament 2021: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for Sweet 16

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    Gonzaga's Corey Kispert
    Gonzaga's Corey KispertMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    Your bracket for the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament was already busted going into the Sweet 16. It probably doesn't look much better going into the next round.

    Keeping with the unpredictable nature of the Big Dance, the Oregon State Beavers moved one win away from the Final Four with their third straight upset in Indianapolis. On Sunday, the UCLA Bruins went from the First Four to the Elite Eight after pulling off an overtime upset over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

    The USC Trojans closed out the weekend's action by becoming the third Pac-12 squad to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight.

    The Baylor Bears kept whatever chalk there is left in the bracket by fending off a challenge from the Villanova Wildcats. The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Michigan Wolverines followed up on that with wins on Sunday. 

    Six of the eight higher seeds advanced out of the Sweet 16. The Cinderella runs of the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles and the Syracuse Orange came to an end on Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks and Houston Cougars. 

    If you missed any of the action from Saturday or Sunday, we have recaps of every game.

No. 1 Gonzaga 83, No. 5 Creighton 65

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    Gonzaga's Drew Timme (2) and Corey Kispert (24)
    Gonzaga's Drew Timme (2) and Corey Kispert (24)AJ Mast/Associated Press

    There is still no slowing down the freight train that is the Gonzaga Bulldogs offense.

    The No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament cruised to its third victory in Indianapolis over the fifth-seeded Creighton Bluejays.

    Mark Few's team won both halves by no fewer than eight points and received another 20-point performance from Drew Timme to launch itself into the Elite Eight.

    Timme has 52 points in the last two games, and on Sunday, he took advantage of the mismatch he had against Creighton.

    Gonzaga finished with an advantage in rebounds, assists, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage.

    Creighton looked competitive for a decent stretch in the first half, but it was not able to match Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs basket for basket.

    While the offense receives the most praise, the Zags defense has played well of late, too. Gonzaga held four of its last six opponents under 70 points, including two of its first three NCAA tournament foes.


    Top Performers

    Timme finished with 22 points and six rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting. Andrew Nembhard chipped in 17 points and led the Zags with three three-pointers.

    Marcus Zegarowski completed his season with 19 points in defeat. He knocked down a trio of three-pointers, but he was held to 7-of-16 from the field.


    Next Round

    Gonzaga will face the USC Trojans on Tuesday with a Final Four spot on the line.


    Updated by Joe Tansey. 

No. 1 Michigan 76, No. 4 Florida State 58

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    Michigan's Franz Wagner
    Michigan's Franz WagnerRobert Franklin/Associated Press

    The Michigan Wolverines became the third of three No. 1 seeds to win in the Sweet 16.

    Juwan Howard's team did not face much trouble against the Florida State Seminoles, who were plagued by foul trouble and poor shooting for 40 minutes.

    Michigan extended its advantage past double digits with 10:24 left in the first half, and it did not let the Seminoles get closer than five points for the rest of the game.

    Florida State was first hurt by foul trouble to RaiQuan Gray, and that extended to star freshman Scottie Barnes. M.J. Walker also suffered an ankle injury that kept him out for parts of the second half.

    On top of that, the Seminoles were not clean with the ball. They had 14 turnovers compared to nine from Michigan.

    The one surge made by Florida State at the start of the second half was quickly countered by Michigan, and the lead blossomed to over 20 points.

    Michigan finished with 19 assists on 29 field goals, shot 50 percent from the field and had four players score 12 points or more.

    With Michigan's victory, all three top seeds that qualified for the Sweet 16 won by double digits to advance to the Elite Eight.


    Top Performers

    Brandon Johns Jr. and Hunter Dickinson tied for Michigan's lead in points with 14. Franz Wagner chipped in 13 points, and Chaundee Brown Jr. added 12 off the bench.

    Malik Osborne led Florida State with 12 points. He was one of two Florida State players in double figures.


    Next Round

    Michigan will take on either the UCLA Bruins in the Elite Eight.


    Updated by Joe Tansey. 

No. 11 UCLA 88, No. 2 Alabama 78 (OT)

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    UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr.
    UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The UCLA Bruins survived a thrilling overtime clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide to become the second double-digit seed in the Elite Eight.

    An early game of runs settled into a physical back-and-forth contest. Quiet for most of the game, UCLA's Cody Riley started dominating in the paint. His late contributions kept the Bruins in the thriller despite their perimeter shooting going ice-cold in the second half and Johnny Juzang fouling out with 2:27 remaining in regulation.

    After Jaime Jaquez Jr. split a pair of free-throw attempts for UCLA, Herbert Jones, who got called for two charging fouls in the game's opening minute, also made one of two foul shots to give Alabama a 62-61 lead with 36.8 seconds remaining.

    Riley then powered his way to the basket for a go-ahead layup. Given a chance to reclaim the lead at the foul line, Jones missed both free-throw attempts.

    That seemed to spell the end for Alabama, but Alex Reese drained a game-tying three—his first points of the game—on a surprisingly open look with less than a second remaining.

    Undeterred by the last-second setback, UCLA opened overtime with a David Singleton three-pointer and a fast-break score spurred by a Tyger Campbell steal. With 1:38 remaining, Jaquez put the final dagger in Alabama's tournament run with a game-sealing three.

    The Crimson Tide hurt themselves by making only 11 of 25 chances from the charity stripe. They also committed more turnovers (14) and shot just 7-of-28 from three-point range.

    Yet UCLA didn't back down against a tenacious defense, catching fire in overtime to extend a tournament run that started with a play-in game. It now joins VCU as the second First Four team to make the Elite Eight.


    Top Performers

    Led by 17 points apiece from Jaquez and Jules Bernard, six players posted double-digit points for UCLA. Jahvon Quinerly contributed 20 of Alabama's 37 bench points while John Petty Jr. fueled the starting squad with 16 points and five rebounds.


    Next Round

    UCLA will square off against the Michigan Wolverines in an Elite Eight matchup Tuesday.

    Updated by Andrew Gould.

No. 6 USC 82, No. 7 Oregon 68

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    USC's Isaiah White
    USC's Isaiah WhiteJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The USC Trojans continued their red-hot tournament run with a decisive win over the Oregon Ducks.

    As anticipated by Kerry Miller in the preview, USC's size gave Oregon fits. After scoring 95 points on 55.9 percent shooting in their second-round victory, the Ducks shot just 26-of-69.

    Although Oregon established an early edge, USC pounded the accelerator with a 12-0 run. The Trojans expanded their lead to 15 at halftime and carried over that energy into the second half.

    The Ducks preempted an early celebration by cutting the deficit to nine with an 11-0 run. Before things could get too interesting, however, Tahj Eaddy broke USC's short-lived funk with a three-pointer, followed by an emphatic slam from Evan Mobley.

    It was a thoroughly efficient onslaught for USC, which shot 57.4 percent from the floor and sunk 10 of its 17 three-point tries.

    The Trojans don't appear to have much interest in theatrical finishes. They have now picked up their three March Madness wins by a cumulative scoring margin of 64 points.

    Seeking its first national championship, USC returns to the Elite Eight for the first time in 20 years.


    Top Performers

    Senior Isaiah White matched a season high with 22 points, and Eaddy didn't trail far behind at 20. Along with 10 points, Evan Mobley made his presence felt with eight rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

    Eugene Omoruyi and Chris Duarte offered 28 and 21 points for the Ducks, respectively, but nobody else exceeded eight.


    Next Round

    USC will look to snap the Gonzaga Bulldogs' undefeated streak Tuesday.


    Updated by Andrew Gould.

No. 12 Oregon State 65, No. 8 Loyola-Chicago 58

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    Oregon State's Ethan Thompson
    Oregon State's Ethan ThompsonAssociated Press

    The Oregon State Beavers beat the Loyola Chicago Ramblers by outperforming their foe in its biggest strength.

    Oregon State's zone defense stifled the Loyola offense, similar to how the Loyola defense frustrated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Illinois Fighting Illini in the first two rounds.

    Loyola appeared to be in the driver's seat early, as it held Oregon State to three points in the first nine-plus minutes and 10 in the first 12:54.

    The Ramblers were not able to match an offensive outburst with those defensive stops, though, and Oregon State took over when it began to make shots. The Pac-12 squad did not turn in a masterpiece to close the first half, but it did open up an eight-point advantage.

    The combination of Loyola's shots not falling and Oregon State's tight defense kept the Beavers in front for the entire second half.

    Loyola made a push for the lead in the second half, getting within three points on an Aher Uguak layup with 3:31 remaining. However, the open looks the Ramblers got down the stretch did not go down, and Oregon State finished the game at the free-throw line.

    Wayne Tinkle's side shot 18-of-20 from the charity stripe and 41.2 percent from the field to the Ramblers' 33.3.

    Oregon State is the second No. 12 seed to advance to the Elite Eight. The Missouri Tigers achieved that feat in 2002.


    Top Performers

    Ethan Thompson led all scorers with 22 points. The Oregon State senior guard has 48 points in the last two games. Warith Alatishe was the only other Beaver in double digits. He had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

    Cameron Krutwig also earned a double-double, but his 14 points and 10 rebounds were not enough to power the Ramblers into their second Elite Eight in four seasons.


    Next Round

    Oregon State will face the Houston Cougars on Monday night.


    Updated by Joe Tansey.

No. 1 Baylor 62, No. 5 Villanova 51

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    Baylor's Davion Mitchell
    Baylor's Davion MitchellMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Baylor Bears were pushed by the Villanova Wildcats for 30 minutes.

    Then the No. 1 seed in the South Region began to enforce its will on both ends of the court.

    Baylor turned a 41-41 tie at the midway point of the second half into a 54-45 advantage with 3:20 left on the clock.

    Baylor's run occurred thanks to a few key adjustments to its first-half struggles. The Bears turned up their defensive pressure and made a larger impact in the paint offensively.

    Baylor forced six turnovers in a span of three minutes, 30 seconds. That stretch showed how much Villanova missed point guard Collin Gillespie, who suffered a torn MCL right before the Big East tournament. The lack of a top ball-handler and Baylor's increased pressure made life difficult for the Wildcats.

    Meanwhile, the Bears went away from the three-point shot and attacked the paint more. They made two three-pointers in the first half and just three in the entire game.

    The shift in strategy resulted in Baylor outscoring Villanova by 18 points in the second half. The Wildcats managed just 21 points in the final 20 minutes.


    Top Performers

    Adam Flagler came off the bench to lead Baylor with 16 points. Davion Mitchell was the only other Baylor player in double figures with 14 points.

    Jermaine Samuels (16) and Justin Moore (15) combined to score 31 of Villanova's 51 points.


    Next Round

    Baylor will take on Arkansas in the Elite Eight on Monday.


    Updated by Joe Tansey.

No. 3 Arkansas 72, No. 15 Oral Roberts 70

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    Arkansas' Jalen Tate
    Arkansas' Jalen TateJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The clock struck midnight on Oral Roberts' Cinderella run, as Arkansas fought from behind to etch out a 72-70 triumph.

    Davonte Davis drained a jumper with 3.1 points remaining to break a 70-70 stalemate. Given one last chance to become the first No. 15 seed to ever reach the Elite Eight, Max Abmas missed a potential go-ahead three at the buzzer.

    For a while, the Golden Eagles looked poised to pull off another upset.

    They came out firing, netting their first five buckets from three-point range. The Razorbacks, on the other hand, stayed cold behind the arc. After shooting nine of 33 from downtown in their two tournament triumphs, they drained just one of nine three-point attempts all game.

    Early heat check aside, Oral Roberts pulled ahead to a seven-point advantage at halftime via superior interior scoring. The underdogs quickly extended that lead to 12, but Arkansas withstood the run and evened the scoreboard near the seven-minute mark.

    With 5:02 remaining, senior Jalen Tate gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the second half. Yet no edge was safe in a gripping back-and-forth affair over the closing minutes.

    Tate continued to come up clutch, powering his way to another basket to give Arkansas a 70-69 advantage. Fouled on a putback attempt in the next possession, Francis Lacis made one of two free throws to even the score for Oral Roberts.

    The Razorbacks feasted on second chances, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds to just six from the Golden Eagles. They also made the most of their free-throw opportunities, going 13-of-15 from the foul line.

    Despite their start, the Golden Eagles made just 25.8 percent (8-of-31) of their three-pointers. Just like in their regular-season meeting, Arkansas escaped with a come-from-behind win.


    Top Performers

    Among the four Arkansas starters to offer at least a dozen points, Tate led the way with 22. Carlos Jurgens, who averaged 5.7 points per game for Oral Roberts during the regular season, posted 11 of his points in the opening half. The nation's leading scorer, Abmas, eventually took the reins and recorded a game-high 25 points.


    Next Round

    Arkansas will face the top-seeded Baylor Bears in the Elite Eight.


    Updated by Andrew Gould.

No. 2 Houston 62, No. 11 Syracuse 46

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    Houston's Quentin Grimes
    Houston's Quentin GrimesMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Houston Cougars advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984 by stifling the Syracuse Orange in a low-scoring win.

    Syracuse's scorching offense came to a screeching halt Saturday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse. After shooting their way to the Sweet 16 with 29 three-pointers in two wins, the Orange went 5-of-23 from deep in their lowest scoring output this season.

    Although Houston opened to a 10-2 lead, Syracuse quickly bounced back with an 8-0 run. Yet the Cougars eventually capitalized on the Orange's cold start, cementing control with 10 straight points to close the first half.

    A discrepancy in free throws extended Syracuse a lifeline. The No. 11 seed scored seven points at the foul line before Houston earned a single attempt.

    Houston's suffocating defense, however, was too much to overcome. The Midwest Region's second seed amassed eight steals to just eight turnovers.

    Despite never fully solving Syracuse's zone defense, Houston led throughout the entire second half, eventually running away with a decisive victory over the underdog.


    Top Performers

    Houston's Quentin Grimes continued his impressive tournament run by submitting a team-best 14 points. Justin Gorham delivered 13 points and 10 boards on just six field-goal attempts.

    One of the biggest breakout stars of the NCAA tournament, Buddy Boeheim, scored 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting.


    Next Round

    Houston will go up against the Oregon State Beavers on Monday.


    Updated by Andrew Gould.


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