The Kansas Jayhawks-Duke Blue Devils matchup is a heavyweight battle on paper, and it played out that way on the floor Sunday evening. The two schools battled in to overtime in the Elite Eight, and it was the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks who came away with an 85-81 win over the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils. Malik Newman went off for 31 points for the Jayhawks, who are entering their first Final Four since 2012. Newman stepped up down the stretch, scoring all 13 of the Jayhawks' points in overtime to end with a career-high point total on the night. This helped his team snap a two-game losing streak in the regional finals, as they will return to San Antonio, which was the site of their last National Championship in 2008 against Memphis. The Blue Devils nearly moved on with the minor upset, but Grayson Allen's shot at the regulation buzzer rolled around the rim, but did not fall in his favor. Trevon Duval stepped up to lead the way for Duke with 20 points, which is just two shy of his career high. Marvin Bagley added a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, but that was not enough to advance the Blue Devils to their first Final Four since winning it all in 2015. The Jayhawks will battle fellow top seed, the Villanova Wildcats, at the Alamodome, on Saturday night.
Villanova to Return to the Final Four
The Villanova Wildcats are returning to the Final Four yet again, and it comes to the surprise of almost no one, as they were the one team that got close to proving consistent dominance this season. Jalen Brunson had 15 points in the top-seeded Wildcats' 71-59 win over the third-seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Wildcats and Red Raiders shot an even 33 percent from the floor, but Nova game themselves more opportunities with a season-high 51 rebounds, along with having an edge of 35-18 in free throw attempts.. Eric Paschall had a double-double of 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to help that effort, as the Wildcats were able spread the ball out well to find producers. Donte DiVincenzo also chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds on the night to be one of many producers for the 2016 National Champions. The win for Nova comes despite posting their lowest shooting percentage since 2015, which included going just 4-for-24 from three-point range. That is very uncharacteristic of them, as they are just seven three-pointers away from setting an NCAA Division 1 record for three-point shooting. The Red Raiders got 12 points from star Keenan Evans, but they failed to capitalize on what little opportunities they gave themselves. The Wildcats now move on to San Antonio next weekend to battle fellow top seed, the Kansas Jayhawks.
McCollum, Blazers Edge Thunder in Intense Battle
The Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder have been putting on intense matchups all season long, Sunday night was no different, as the two division rivals went down to the wire in a testy showdown, which the Trail Blazers came out on top of, 108-105. C.J. McCollum ended his 34-point night by nailing the go-ahead basket in the final seconds, as the Blazers extended their lead to two games on OKC in the Western Conference standings. The Thunder did have a chance to tie with 18.5 seconds left, but Carmelo Anthony turned the ball over after getting trapped in the corner. Anthony had another chance, but missed a three-pointer as time expired to seal the Thunder's home loss. The win gives the Trail Blazers the season-series sweep of the Thunder, as they remain in the three-seed in the West. Damian Lillard stepped up with 24 points, while Jusuf Nurkic added a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook had 23 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds, while Steven Adams had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the loss for OKC. They will look to bounce back when they visit the recently-hot San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. The Blazers stay on the road to battle another playoff-hopeful team in the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.