The Manila Times

March Madness: US NCAA Final Four set

Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell attempts a basket as Michigan State guard Jaden Akins defends in the second half of a Sweet 16 college basketball game in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York.

MARCH Madness has rounded toward the Final Four, and No. 1 seeds are nowhere to be found. Instead, the Final Four will have no team seeded better than No. 4 for the first time since seeding began in 1979.

Florida Atlantic became the lowest-ever seed to make the Final Four after beating Kansas State. Miami and San Diego State are in the Final Four for the first time. And UConn’s back for the first time in nine years. There’ve been millions of busted brackets and only three games remain.

Here is what to know:

The Florida Atlantic Owls — Who? — extended their second appearance in the tournament with a 79-76 victory over Kansas State. The Conference USA champs are the winningest team in Division 1 and will face San Diego State in the national semifinals. The Aztecs beat Creighton when Darrion Trammell hit the second of two free throws with 1.2 seconds left. The Aztecs are the first Mountain West team to advance this far. The Owls are the lowest seed left in the field.

UConn has looked unstoppable since the NCAA Tournament began, winning its four March Madness games by at least 15 points. The

Huskies put on a show in Las Vegas in the Elite Eight, overwhelming Gonzaga at both ends in an 82-54 rout. They figure to get a stiffer test against Miami. Jim Larrañaga’s Hurricanes have plenty of experience after playing in the Elite Eight last season and reached the Final Four by beating No. 2 seed Texas 88-81.

Top seeds

The top four seeds were Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue.

Expectations for a chaotic tournament were met quickly: The Boilermakers were ousted by Fairleigh Dickinson in a first-round stunner and the defending champion Jayhawks lost to Arkansas the next day. Alabama and Houston didn’t survive the second weekend.

Shining moments

Princeton used a late run to earn its first NCAA Tournament win in 25 years by ousting No. 2 seed

Arizona and then beat Missouri to lock in its first Sweet 16 spot in 56 years. For Princeton and other teams, getting this far after pandemic-disrupted seasons was a milestone.

Furman celebrated its first tourney appearance since 1980 with a win over No. 4 seed Virginia on a deep 3-pointer by JP Pegues with 2.4 seconds left. Then came 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson’s win over Purdue as the 22 1/2-point underdog. The Knights joined UMBC in the record books as the only 16 seeds to knock out a No. 1.

All that happened before the Razorbacks and shirtless coach Eric Musselman celebrated their win over the Jayhawks.

Go deeper

Gun violence has cost lives and disrupted college sports all season, touching some of the top programs in college basketball, including Alabama. Coaches have been thrust into uncertain and unwelcome roles in trying to navigate the topic — as well as the fallout from the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

On a lighter note, if you feel you know March Madness pretty well, try this 25-question trivia quiz.





The Manila Times