After an eventful start Thursday, the Sweet 16 continued Friday with eight teams looking to keep their national championship hopes alive.
Unlike the West and South regions—featuring two No. 9 seeds (Florida State, Kansas State) and a No. 11 seed (Loyola-Chicago)—the Midwest and East regions have been conventional through the first two rounds.
Powerhouse schools like Villanova, Duke, Kansas and Purdue are looking to extend their seasons.
No. 11 Syracuse is the only team seeded lower than fifth still playing Friday. The Orange can hardly be considered a Cinderella as an ACC team with one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball.
Here are the updated results from Friday’s Sweet 16 games as they go final as well as a look at the bracket and upcoming games.
Midwest Region: No. 1 Kansas def. No. 5 Clemson, 80-76
East Region: No. 1 Villanova def. No. 5 West Virginia, 90-78
Midwest Region: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 11 Syracuse, Approx. 9:37 p.m. ET
East Region: No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, Approx. 10:26 p.m. ET
Kansas 80, Clemson 76
Kansas weathered a late Clemson rally in an 80-76 victory to reach the Elite Eight for the third straight season.
After Gabe DeVoe’s jumper brought Clemson to within one with 9:18 remaining in the first half, the Jayhawks went on a 31-12 run over the next 11 minutes to open up a 20-point lead.
Udoka Azubuike continues to be a matchup problem for teams. The sophomore center showed no lingering effects from the knee injury that limited him to three minutes in the round of 64 against Penn. He followed up his 10-point showing against Seton Hall with 14 points and 11 rebounds Friday.
Mark Donnal, who was giving up three inches in size to Azubuike, looked helpless on defense when the Kansas big man threw down this slam in the first half:
Kansas’ offensive attack was balanced throughout the game with four players reaching double figures in scoring. Devonte’ Graham struggled with his shot, going 4-of-12 from the field, but he contributed with five rebounds and four assists in the win.
Clemson closed its deficit to four points at 80-76, but it came with 4.5 seconds remaining and no timeouts left. The clock eventually struck midnight on the Tigers’ remarkable season. Their 25 wins in 2017-18 tied for the second-most in program history.
The Jayhawks need to clean up their end-of-game defense if they hope to advance to the Final Four, but this was a largely dominant showing for 37 minutes. All that matters at this point in the season is winning, regardless of how pretty or ugly it looks.
Villanova 90, West Virginia 78
Facing its toughest test of the NCAA tournament thus far, top-seeded Villanova pulled away late with a 90-78 win over West Virginia.
The Mountaineers were taking it to Villanova in the second half, opening up a 60-54 lead with 11:08 remaining.
After Jay Wright called timeout, the Wildcats responded by going on a 24-8 run over the next eight minutes that put them up by 10 points. Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 27 points, his first time cracking the 20-point barrier in the NCAA tournament.
ESPN’s Dick Vitale was quite taken with what he saw from Brunson in this game:
Wright’s offense remains an unstoppable force this season. After leading Division I with 86.9 points per game in the regular season, the Wildcats have scored at least 81 points in each of their three tournament wins and shot 54.2 percent from three-point range Friday.
The much-anticipated head-to-head showdown between Brunson and West Virginia’s Jevon Carter turned out to be one-sided. Carter shot 5-of-16 to finish with 12 points, though he did dish out a game-high eight assists.
This game turned into a perfect example of what makes Villanova so dangerous and why it is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. It took the best punch from a worthy opponent, bounced off the ropes and responded with a knockout haymaker in the blink of an eye.
In a tournament that’s been full of upsets, the Wildcats look like the safest bet to reach the Final Four in San Antonio next weekend.