Two weeks of mayhem – a tumult of historic upsets, buzzer-beaters and at least one celebrity nun – have brought the NCAA Tournament to a crossroads.
Three teams that need no introduction. One from out of nowhere.
Malik Newman scored all 13 of Kansas’ points in overtime, and the top-seeded Jayhawks are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2012 after beating No. 2 seed Duke 85-81 in overtime in the Midwest Region final.
Top-seeded Kansas brought at least a temporary halt to the insanity this March, withstanding a wild comeback from fifth-seeded Clemson for a too-close-for-comfort, 80-76 victory on Friday.
Everything seems to be in place yet again for Kansas, which for the second straight year needs just two wins – in a gym that its rabid fans can reach in less than half a day’s drive – to make it to the Final Four.
Malik Newman scored 28 points, Udoka Azubuike stood toe-to-toe with Seton Hall’s bruising Angel Delgado, and No. 1 seed Kansas held off the plucky Pirates 83-79 on Saturday night, sending the Jayhawks to their third consecutive Sweet 16.
Devonte Graham ignited sluggish Kansas midway through the first half, pouring in 29 points and lifting the top-seeded Jayhawks to a tough, grind-it-out 76-60 victory over No. 16 Pennsylvania in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Kansas coach Bill Self has signed some of the nation’s top-rated players during his tenure in Lawrence, allowing him to restock the roster instead of rebuilding.
Devonte Graham had 23 points and seven assists, Malik Newman added 20 and No. 8 Kansas beat Oklahoma 104-74 on Monday night.
Finishing a season with at least 25 wins is not a common feat in college basketball, but Gonzaga makes it look easy.