One game is a grudge match between programs that know each other all too well. The other is a rematch between teams that aren't used to meeting this often.
The Final Four is set. In one game Saturday at the Superdome in New Orleans, Kentucky will play Louisville in an intrastate rivalry that will pit Cardinals coach Rick Pitino against the school he once coached, then later alienated by returning to the Bluegrass to lead its archrival.
In the other semifinal, it will be Ohio State and Kansas, meeting for only the ninth time in their history but for the second time this season. The Jayhawks won the first game 78-67 in Lawrence, Kan., back on Dec. 10. It was the first time the teams had met since 2000.
MIDWEST REGIONAL FINAL
Kansas 80, North Carolina 67
ST. LOUIS — Nothing personal, Roy.
Tyshawn Taylor broke out of his slump in a big way Sunday, scoring 22 points and leading Kansas back to the Final Four with an 80-67 victory over former coach Roy Williams and top-seeded North Carolina.
The second-seeded Jayhawks (31-6) will play Ohio State on Saturday in their first appearance in the Final Four since 2008, when they won the national championship. And how's this for symmetry? Kansas began this year's tournament in Omaha, Neb., same place as four years ago.
As the game ended, Taylor — much maligned for his shooting struggles during the first three games of the NCAA tournament — ran to Kansas fans and raised both arms in the air.
"There's no way to put into words the way we feel," Williams said. "There's no way to put into words the way I feel. ... It's the NCAA tournament. One team wins and one team loses, and that's what we have to understand."
Taylor led five Jayhawks in double figures. Player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson added 18 points and nine rebounds, and Elijah Johnson kept up his blistering pace in the tournament with 10 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:07 to play that sparked Kansas' 12-0 run to end the game. Jeff Withey made two monster blocks to deny the Tar Heels during the run — including one that set up a big three-point play by Taylor.
Taylor came up with the rebound after Withey swatted away a shot by John Henson and streaked downcourt for a layup, getting fouled by Stilman White in the process. As the Kansas-heavy crowd roared, Taylor butted his head into Robinson's chest. He made the free throw to give Kansas a 74-67 lead with 1:59 left, and the Jayhawks cruised from there.
James Michael McAdoo scored 15 for the Tar Heels (32-6), who played better in their second game without injured star point guard Kendall Marshall. But North Carolina couldn't overcome a 5:46 field goal drought to end the game.
"It was a game of runs," Williams said. "And we didn't answer the last one."
This was only the second time Williams had faced Kansas since leaving the school where he spent his first 15 years as a head coach, taking the Jayhawks to the NCAA title game twice — they lost in both 1991 and 2003 — and two other Final Fours. Though Kansas fans have softened some — Williams was still greeted with a chorus of boos — Williams said Saturday that facing his old team will always be unpleasant.
"Too emotional for me. That's the bottom line," Williams said, calling Kansas his "second-favorite" team. "I don't think it'll ever feel good for me, regardless of the outcome. I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable with it."
At least this one went better than the first meeting, at the 2008 Final Four, where the Jayhawks walloped North Carolina on the way to winning the title Williams never could at Kansas.
SOUTH REGIONAL FINAL
Kentucky 82, Baylor 70
Kentucky is taking its highlight show back to the Big Easy.
With an NBA-like display from a young team filled with future pros, top-seeded Wildcats advanced to the Final Four for the second year in a row with a 82-70 blitzing of Baylor in the South Regional final on Sunday.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 19 points, Anthony Davis added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Terrence Jones dazzled in all the overlooked areas, leading the Wildcats (36-2) to a Bluegrass showdown with rival Louisville in the national semifinals next Saturday at New Orleans.
For all the hoopla sure to surround that game in the basketball-crazed state, Kentucky won't consider the season a success unless it wins two more games _ culminating in a national title.
"This team is playing for you and playing for each other," coach John Calipari told the predominantly blue-clad crowd when it was over. "Let's see if we can keep this thing rolling a bit."
This group sure has the look of a champion, shaking off an early blow by the Bears (30-8) _ a very good team with a daring fashion sense that was simply no match for Calipari's latest group of Fab Freshmen. Kentucky took control with an early 16-0 run and led by 20 at halftime.
They might as well have cut down the nets right then.
Calipari, in his third season at Kentucky, just keeps recruiting the best high school players in the land, molds them into a top team, then sends most of `em on to the NBA before they've barely had time to find their way to class.
Then he starts the whole process over again.
Two years ago, John Wall led Kentucky to the regional final. Last season, Brandon Knight helped guide the Wildcats to the Final Four. Now, with those guys in the NBA and Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis stopping off for what will likely be their only season in Lexington, Big Blue has a shot at what those last two teams failed to do _ bringing Kentucky its first national title since 1998.
But all the talk about Calipari's one-and-done tactics, he's getting plenty of contributions from those who hung around beyond their freshmen year. Take Jones, a sophomore forward who passed up the draft. He scored just one point in the opening half, but his fingerprints were all over Kentucky's dominating performance: nine rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals and _ most in the first 10 minutes.
Then there's Darius Miller, one of only two seniors on the roster. He gave up his starting role to Kidd-Gilchrist in this one _ Kentucky essentially has six starters _ but four points, two assists and two steals to the first-half blowout.
At one point, Kidd-Gilchrist had as many points as Baylor's entire team: 17 apiece. Kentucky led 42-22 at the break and Baylor never got any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
The Wildcats left New Orleans earlier this month disappointed with a loss in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
Quincy Acy led Baylor with 22 points.
With Baylor's Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III cheering on the Bears from the stands, Acy tried to send a message early on that Baylor would not be intimidated by the Wildcats.
With Jones in the clear and going in for a fastbreak layup, the 235-pound Acy came up from behind, took a whack at the ball but mainly just crashed into the Kentucky player, sending him flying into the Baylor cheerleaders along the baseline. Jones was OK, and the officials doled out a flagrant foul on Acy after looking at the replay.
Jones made one of the free throws, Kentucky missed a jumper and the Bears, seemingly inspired by Acy's bravado, ripped off an 8-0 run that led Calipari to call a quick timeout. He already had yanked Doron Lamb from the game for trying to make the highlight reels rather than taking a layup. The sophomore guard passed up a clear path to the basket, instead opting for a lob pass to the trailing Davis.
The big man missed the dunk, hanging on the rim as Baylor grabbed the rebound and took off the other way for a basket.
After Quincy Miller hit an uncontested 3-pointer from the top of the lane to give Baylor a 10-5 lead, Calipari lashed into his young team _ and, boy, did they respond.
Sixteen consecutive points, an NBA-like display of defensive dominance and easy baskets that sent the Georgia Dome, and the predominantly blue-clad crowd, into a frenzy.
Cat-Lanta, indeed. Too bad RG3 couldn't suit up for the Bears, who couldn't wear the neon-green home uniforms they had specially made for the tournament. As the lower-seeded team, they switched to another special uniform, this one black and camouflage with neon trim.
Turns out, blue was the dominant color.
Jones displayed his all-around game, coming up with three steals and swatting away a shot by 5-foot-10 Pierre Jackson like this was a game between men and boys. Kentucky fed off his defense, running the court at every opportunity for layup after layup. Kidd-Gilchrist had three of `em, along with a slam by Davis that made up for the one he missed.
Darius Miller hit a jumper, and even little-used freshman Kyle Wiltjer knocked down a 3-pointer, pumping his fist and smiling as he trotted back down the court.
There were plenty of smiles from the folks in blue, though Kentucky did get a scare early in the second half when Davis went down with an injured left knee.
The 6-foot-10 freshman was driving to the basket when he banged knees with Baylor's Perry Jones III, going down hard along the baseline. A hush fell over the massive stadium as Davis, writhing in pain, grabbed at his knee. Finally, he limped to the bench, but it was clear the injury wasn't too serious when the trainers kept flexing the leg, then rubbed it with an ointment to ease the pain.
After just a few minutes, Davis got up and headed to the scorer's table, checking back into the game.
The Kentucky fans broke into a huge cheer of relief.
There's still work to do in the Big Easy.
EAST REGIONAL FINAL
Ohio State 77, Syracuse 70
BOSTON — Ohio State coach Thad Matta sized up his team in the middle of the season and had it figured for an early loss when the NCAA tournament came around.
The final weekend of March Madness is next, and the Buckeyes will be there.
Jared Sullinger recovered from first-half foul trouble to score 19 points and grab seven rebounds, helping Ohio State beat top-seeded Syracuse 77-70 on Saturday to advance to the Final Four in New Orleans. The second-seeded Buckeyes will play the winner of Sunday's Midwest Regional final between North Carolina and Kansas.
"We're not going down to New Orleans for a vacation. It's a business trip," said Sullinger, who picked up his second foul 6 minutes into the game and did not return the rest of the half. "These guys have played without me before, so they know what they have to do."
Deshaun Thomas scored 14 with nine rebounds for Ohio State (31-7), which led by eight points with 59 seconds to play and held on after the Orange cut it to three. The Buckeyes made 13 of 14 free throws in the final 68 seconds and 31 of 42 from the line in all.
Ohio State is making its first trip to the Final Four since 2007, when it lost in the national championship game to Florida. They had lost in the regional semifinals in each of the past two seasons, and Matta wasn't even sure they would make it that far after a series of unimpressive practices.
When the Buckeyes, who spent five weeks as the No. 2 team in the nation, closed out February with three defeats in five games — including a home loss to Wisconsin on Feb. 26 — Matta had more reason to worry.
But he got the response he was hoping for.
"That loss opened their eyes and said, 'Hey, maybe we're not as good as we think we are,'" Matta said. "Maybe it got us pointed in the right direction."
Brandon Triche scored 15 points and Baye Keita had 10 rebounds for Syracuse (34-3). The Orange were hoping for a return trip to New Orleans, where they won their only national championship in 2003.
In a tightly officiated game that left Sullinger on the bench in foul trouble for most of the first half and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim not-quite muzzled after picking up a technical foul, it came down to free throws. Syracuse was called for 29 fouls — its most in more than three years — despite playing its usual 2-3 zone.
Boeheim didn't like several of them.
He picked up a technical for objecting to a foul in the first half, and he escaped another in the second half despite shouting his profane complaint across the court. At one point, he turned to Jeff Hathaway, the chairman of the NCAA selection committee who was sitting near the Syracuse bench, and made his case in person.
Afterward, Boeheim gave a terse "No comment" when asked if the officials hurt the flow of the game. A statement from the officiating crew chief said Boeheim was given a technical for being out of the coaching box and gesturing about a call.
"We're not going to blame it on the refs," said guard Scoop Jardine, who had 14 points and six assists. "I think we had a chance to win the game no matter what, with the refs or without them giving us any calls."
The Orange went to the line 25 times, making 20 foul shots.
The frequent whistles left both teams struggling to get into a groove in the first half — there were only four baskets in the last 9:30. That seemed to be good news for Ohio State, which managed to stay with the No. 1 seed despite getting only 6 minutes from Sullinger, the star of the Buckeyes' East Regional semifinal win over Cincinnati.
"We got Sullinger in foul trouble early and we didn't take advantage of it," Boeheim said. "You know when he comes back in he's going to be difficult, and he was."
Syracuse was already without 7-footer Fab Melo, who missed the tournament with academic issues, and replacement Rakeem Christmas picked up two quick fouls early in the second half to leave him with four.
Ohio State opened a 46-36 lead with under 14 minutes to play. Syracuse scored eight of the next nine points to make it a one-point game, but the Orange could never get back in the lead.
They trailed by eight with 59 seconds left and cut it to three, but they needed the Buckeyes to miss free throws, and that didn't happen.
The loss ended a tumultuous season for Syracuse that began with accusations by two former ball boys that they were sexually abused in the 1980s by Bernie Fine, a longtime Syracuse assistant coach. Boeheim vigorously defended him, but later walked back his support in the face of new information. Fine, who was fired Nov. 27, has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
The school also revealed this month that it had self-reported possible violations of its internal drug policy by members of previous teams; the NCAA is investigating.
But the biggest hit might have been the loss of Melo, Syracuse's leading rebounder who also averaged 5.8 points per game. Even without him, the Orange beat North Carolina-Asheville and Kansas State to earn a trip to Boston, then survived a pair of potential game-winners to beat Wisconsin 64-63 on Thursday and advance to the regional final.
Ohio State reached the round of eight by beating Loyola of Maryland and then Gonzaga before winning a Battle of the Buckeye State against Cincinnati in Boston on Thursday night. The Buckeyes were one of four teams from Ohio in the round of 16, and the only ones to make it to the regional finals.
Ohio State is also the last remaining team from the Big Ten, which placed six teams in the NCAA tournament and four in the round of 16.
WEST REGIONAL FINAL
Louisville 72, Florida 68
PHOENIX — Florida seemed to hit every shot it put up in the first half and still had a big lead even after the makes were a little harder to come by in the second.
Finally, it appeared, Billy Donovan was going to beat his mentor.
Instead, the Gators couldn't hold it together, sending their coach home from the desert with the most disappointing of his seven losses to Louisville coach Rick Pitino
Florida blew an 11-point lead in the second half and couldn't convert on numerous chances down the stretch, blowing a shot at another Final Four with a 72-68 loss to Louisville on Saturday in the West Regional final.
"Certainly, emotionally going into the game it's always a difficult situation like that, with our relationship, but I don't think any coach enjoys losing in this type of situation," Donovan said. "But if I had to lose, it would have to be him, to have him toward the end of his career to enjoy this experience."
Donovan had done his best to escape the shadow of Pitino, his former coach and boss, winning a pair of national championships and making three trips to the Final Four.
When it came to beating the old man, he hadn't been able to do it, losing in six previous tries, including two Louisville-Florida matchups.
In easily their biggest meeting, Donovan appeared to have the upper hand on his mentor, the Gators playing in his old Billy the Kid image, hitting eight 3-pointers and shooting 66 percent in the first half against one of the nation's best defenses.
Even when the perimeter shots started clanging — 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the second half — Florida (26-11) still had a 58-47 lead with just under 11 minutes left.
Then it started going horribly wrong.
Louisville (30-9) went on a 10-0 run to get within 1 and kept rolling. Florida couldn't stop the Cardinals, particularly Chane Behanan inside, and missed six shots with a turnover over the final 2:39.
Instead of a trip to New Orleans and the Final Four, the Gators were headed back to Gainesville, wondering how what seemed like such a comfortable lead got away from them.
Bradley Beal and Erik Murphy had 14 points each to lead Florida.
"It feels terrible," said Florida's Erving Walker, who had 12 points. "I mean, we had a lead, we gave it up late. We just didn't make shots and didn't defend them."
Donovan has a tight relationship with Pitino that goes back 25 years, when the fire-at-will guard led Providence and coach Pitino to an improbable run to the Final Four. Donovan reluctantly agreed when Pitino asked him to dress up as Billy the Kid for the team program — complete with cowboy hat and spurs — and became close to Pitino's son, Richard, who used to sit on his lap when he was barely out of diapers and is now the associate head coach under his father.
Rick Pitino also gave Donovan his first coaching job while he was at Kentucky.
Mentor and protege had met six times before and Pitino won all of those, though it had more to do with the talent level of the teams than anything Donovan was lacking as a coach.
Never before had they met with so much at stake and with so many emotions on the line.
Louisville reached the brink of its 10th Final Four appearance by overcoming a late-season stumble to win four games in four days for the Big East tournament championship. The Cardinals opened the NCAA tournament with wins over Davidson and New Mexico, then grinded out a win over top-seeded Michigan State in the regional semifinals behind Gorgui Dieng's seven blocked shots.
Florida had a similar sputtering finish in the regular season and lost to Kentucky in the SEC tournament, then rolled over Virginia and Norfolk State in the first two rounds of the NCAAs. The Gators followed with an impressive win over Marquette in the regional semifinals after Beal displayed some of his NBA-worthy talents.
That set up what figured to be a sizzler in the desert, two like-mindedly up-tempo teams that love to play defense and jack up 3-pointers.
And it lived up to the billing.
Louisville had been good at defending the 3 all season, holding teams to 30 percent while ranking third nationally in overall defense at 37 percent. But the Cardinals had a hard time finding Florida's shooters in the first half, allowing the Gators to hit 8 of 11 3-point shots and shoot 14 of 21 overall.
Louisville tightened up on the perimeter to open the second half and the Gators had no answer, missing one 3-pointer after another.
Even without getting shots to drop from long range, Florida seemed to be comfortably ahead after Pitino was called for a technical foul and Kenny Boynton, who had 12 points, hit four free throws to put the Gators up 11.
"We knew they were going to make a run at some point, they're a great team, Louisville," Walker said. "We thought we had control of it and we thought we'd be able to keep them at bay."
He was right, Louisville did come charging back, but the Gators didn't have an answer.
The Cardinals pulled within 65-64 after their 10-0 run and, even after point guard Peyton Siva fouled out with 3:58 left, kept coming at the Gators, who kept misfiring.
Boynton scored on a layup with 2:39 left, but Beal had a shot blocked by Dieng, another by Behanan and had a turnover with 18 seconds left and the Gators trailing by one. Russ Smith, who led Louisville with 19 points, hit two free throws at the other end to make it 71-68, then Boynton missed a 3-pointer.
Louisville's Wayne Blackshear sealed it by hitting 1 of 2 free throws with 3 seconds left, sending Florida to its second straight loss in the regional finals and Donovan to the most frustrating of his losses to Pitino.
Still, once it was over, mentor and protege embraced at midcourt, their deep-rooted relationship not about to be tarnished by one emotionally-charged game.
''(As we) walked out, I said to Billy, 'I feel bad, I feel terrible, man,'" said Pitino, who likened Donovan to a seventh child. "He said, 'Are you kidding me, coach? I am so happy for you.' That just didn't happen in this world."
Kentucky 102, Indiana 90
ATLANTA — Anthony Davis had a rather quiet night. No worries. He's got plenty of help at Kentucky.
The top-seeded Wildcats took care of the team that beat them back in early December and are off to another regional final, putting all their weapons on display in a 102-90 victory over gritty Indiana on Friday night.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 24 points and four other players were in double figures for Kentucky (35-2), which made up for a 73-72 loss to the Hoosiers.
Davis, the Wildcats' freshman star, wasn't a huge factor after picking up two early fouls, finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds. Kidd-Gilchrist took the starring role with a double-double, also grabbing 10 rebounds. Doron Lamb had 21 points, Darius Miller 19, Marquis Teague 14 and Terrence Jones 12.
Christian Watford had 27 points to lead the Hoosiers (27-9), whose comeback season ended two wins shy of the Final Four. Indiana, which won a total of 28 games the previous three seasons, has regained its usual place among the college basketball bluebloods under coach Tom Crean.
But Big Blue is moving on to its third straight regional final.
Kentucky will face Baylor on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
Indiana's freshman star, Cody Zeller, had 20 points, while Victor Oladipo chipped in with 15 before fouling out. Kidd-Gilchrist just kept pounding the ball inside, drawing foul after foul on the Hoosiers, then knocking down the free throws. He went 10-for-10 at the line.
Baylor 75, Xavier 70
ATLANTA - For Quincy Acy, everything felt familiar.
From the doubts about his age and his outside shooting to the destination - another trip to the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, the second for Baylor and Acy in the last three years.
The senior from Mesquite Horn, Texas, delivered 20 points and 15 rebounds, powering third-seeded Baylor past No. 10 Xavier, 75-70, in the South Regional. The Bears (30-7) will play Kentucky on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans on the line.
"It feels great," Acy said. "We had thoughts at the beginning of the season that we really wanted to still be playing at this time. Here we are. ...
"We've willed ourselves to some wins."
The victory was especially poignant.
Homer and Janet Drew, the parents of coach Scott Drew, attended their first game this season. Each had battled cancer, with Janet Drew just having finished radiation and chemotherapy for bladder cancer.
"She's battled a lot and gone through a lot and probably shouldn't have come down," Scott Drew said, "but my mom's the tough one in the family. She was worn out from getting here.
"I think if we'd have lost and she had to drive back tomorrow, she'd have really hated me."
Kansas 60, North Carolina State 57
ST. LOUIS - Kansas' offense all but shut down, but that didn't prevent the Jayhawks from pulling out a 60-57 victory over North Carolina State.
Kansas advances to the Midwest Regional final at 3:05 p.m. Sunday against North Carolina. The winner will advance to the Final Four.
The Jayhawks made it hard on themselves.
Leading by eight with 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining, Kansas went without a field goal until Elijah Johnson scored on an inbounds pass with 13.5 seconds left.
But Kansas wasn't out of the woods.
As in last Sunday's survival of Purdue, the Jayhawks had to sweat out a final possession with a three-point lead.
But Thomas Robinson made it difficult for Richard Howell to receive the court-length pass and get off a shot from in front of the N.C. State bench.
There wasn't much scoring, but there was plenty of action late, and most of it was created by the Wolfpack.
North Carolina 73, Ohio 65
ST. LOUIS - From his seat on the North Carolina bench, Kendall Marshall watched the Tar Heels struggle without him during their 73-65 victory overtime victory against Ohio on Friday night, and he watched UNC's offense falter against the Bobcats' difficult, intrusive defense.
UNC coach Roy Williams didn't think it'd be easy without Marshall, who six days ago suffered a broken bone in his right wrist. And it wasn't easy for the top-seeded Heels, who with the victory against No. 13 Ohio advanced to the NCAA tournament Midwest regional finals on Sunday.
Still, after what was perhaps UNC's most grinding, hard-fought victory of the season, Marshall wore a wide smile along with a crisp suit in his team's locker room in the bowels of the Edward Jones Dome.
"We still found a way to adjust, which was huge," said Marshall, who declined to discuss whether he might play on Sunday. "I'm so proud of my team that they found a way to win. We've fought through extreme circumstances. I don't think any team has been through what we've been through when it comes to player personnel.
"And I'm just happy to be in the Elite Eight."
The Tar Heels (32-5) nearly didn't make it there. Reggie Bullock, UNC's sophomore guard, made a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left in regulation to put the Heels ahead 63-61. Ohio's Walter Offutt, though, tied the game with a layup with 25 seconds to play, and he was fouled on the play.
Louisville 57, Michigan State 44
PHOENIX — Michigan State’s guards struggled with Louisville’s pressure and the big men had a hard time getting shots to fall.
Everyone had trouble with Gorgui Dieng.
Dieng blocked seven shots and top-seeded Michigan State had more turnovers than field goals in a 57-44 loss to Louisville in the West Regional Thursday night.
“We just missed some shots that we have hit (in the past),” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “But I also thought they disrupted us a little bit and we just didn’t have enough guys that could play well.”
Michigan State (29-8) started slow and never got going against Louisville’s amoebic defense.
The Spartans got shots they wanted and usually make, but couldn’t get many to fall against Dieng or anyone else, shooting 28 percent while being outscored 20-14 inside by the leaner Cardinals.
Draymond Green had 13 points and 16 rebounds in his final game for Michigan State. Brandon Wood added 14 points for the Spartans, who were outscored 17-4 off the bench.
“He was very disruptive,” Green said. “We’re not going to back down from anyone. We took it at him. He pulled off some great blocked shots. That’s what he does. That’s his strength.”
The Cardinals (29-9) relied on 3-point shooting in the first half and moved inside in the second to befuddle the Spartans.
Their defense gave Michigan State fits all night.
Instead of trapping like it normally does, Louisville played a bait-and-switch game with the Spartans and Green, their multitalented forward. The idea was to jump out on screens and to make the Spartans work on every possession and, hopefully, wear them out.
It worked, in large part because Dieng was in the back to clean things up.
(7) Florida 68, (3) Marquette 58
PHOENIX — Bradley Beal scored 21 points to lift Florida over Marquette and set up Gators coach Billy Donovan with a meeting against his old boss, Rick Pitino, in the West Regional final.
The seventh-seeded Gators (26-10) expanded a six-point halftime lead to double digits, then held off third-seeded Marquette
(27-8) to take their second straight trip to the regional final. Last year, they lost to Butler. This time, they meet Louisville and Pitino.
Beal, a freshman who has NBA written all over him, shot 8 for 10 and had six rebounds and four assists.
Marquette got 15 points from Jae Crowder and 14 from fellow senior Darius Johnson-Odom, but the Golden Eagles exited the tournament in the round of 16 for the second straight year.
hen we came here, we know (what) we’re going to face,” said Dieng, who also had five points, nine rebounds and three steals while matching the school record for blocked shots in an NCAA tournament game. “We knew we were going to come to a war. We need to be tougher than them to win this game.”
This sweet matchup of top programs featured two of college basketball’s best short-preparation coaches. Pitino has reached the Final Four five times, winning a title at Kentucky and becoming the first coach to lead three different schools to the national semifinals. Izzo has led the Spartans one national title and six Final Fours.
Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 63
BOSTON — Top-seeded Syracuse used a breakout game by the slumping C.J. Fair to advance to the East Regional final.
Wisconsin missed two potential winning shots in the final seconds, and the Orange hung on for the 64-63 win Thursday night to reach the round of eight for the first time since 2003, when they won their only national championship.
Fair finished with 15 on 7-for-9 shooting. Scoop Jardine had 14 points, while Dion Waiters had 13 and Brandon Triche 11.
Kris Joseph, a 75 percent free throw shooter, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 18 seconds to go with Syracuse up by a point, giving the Badgers a chance at the victory.
Passing the ball around the perimeter of the zone but creating much space, Jordan Taylor let go a
3-point attempt with 3 seconds left. It bounced off the rim and Josh Gasser’s shot at the buzzer was off.
Jared Berggren and Taylor both had 17 points for the Badgers (26-10)
(2) Ohio State 81, (6) Cincinnati 66
BOSTON — Deshaun Thomas scored 26 points and Jared Sullinger had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead Ohio State over Cincinnati, putting the Buckeyes in the East Regional finals.
Aaron Craft added 11 points — all in the second half — with five assists and six steals, taking charge during a 17-1 second-half run that turned a four-point deficit into a double-digit lead.
Cashmere Wright scored 18 and Sean Kilpatrick had 15 for the Bearcats, who were attempting to match Big East rival Syracuse by defeating a Big Ten opponent to advance to the round of eight.
It’s the first trip to the regional finals for Ohio State (30-7) since 2007, when it lost in the national championship game to Florida.