And as the dust settled from the battle of the Sweet 16, only one No. 1 seed remained standing as Louisville won a hard-fought victory on March 29. Junior guard Russ Smith scored a career-high 31 points, as the Cardinals (32-5) knocked off No. 12 seed Oregon, 77-69.
Fellow No. 1 seed Kansas (31-6), however, wasn’t as fortunate as Louisville as they allowed No. 4 seed Michigan (29-7) to steal an 87-85 comeback victory in overtime on March 29.
Michigan’s entire starting five lineup scored in the double-digits, led by freshman guard Mitch McGary’s 25 points. Sophomore guard Trey Burke followed with 23 points while freshman forward Glenn Robinson III, son of former NBA star Glenn Robinson Jr., scored 13 points. Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr., son of another former NBA star Tim Hardaway, added 10 points and freshman Nik Stauskas scored 11 for Michigan.
Later on that night, No. 2 seed Duke powered its way to a 71-61 win over No. 3 Michigan State (27-9). Duke (30-5) was led by senior guard Seth Curry’s 29 points including six-of-nine three-point attempts.
Meanwhile, senior guard Mike Rosario scored 15 points as the No. 3 seed Florida Gators (29-7) overcame an 11-point first-half deficit to dispatch the pesky No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles (26-11) 62-50.
The end to the Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Cinderella role few thought had a chance to succeed in the college basketball championship, came after the Fort Myer, Fla. team opened the South Regional semi-final contest with an 11-4 run.
The Florida Gators clamped down defensively and staged a 23-2 spurt spanning the late first half and the second half that resulted in a 37-26 deficit that the upstart Eagles could not overcome.
FGCU senior guard Sherwood Brown finished with 14 points, while junior forward Chase Fieler scored 12 and junior guard Christophe Varidel had 10 for the Eagles, who went nine-of-16 from the field in the first half, but could only manage to 11-of-28 field goal attempts over the final 20 minutes.
On Sunday, March 31st, the Florida Gators will face Michigan while Duke will face Louisville in the Elite Eight.
Following are the results from Friday’s Sweet 16 match-ups:
No. 2 Duke beat No. 3 Michigan State, 71-61.
No. 3 Florida beat No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast State, 62-50
No. 4 Michigan beat No. 1 Kansas, 87-85.
No. 1 Louisville beat No. 12 Oregon, 77-69.