The Texas Tech Red Raiders added to the stories of the NCAA Tournament by advancing to their first Elite Eight appearance in school history on Friday night with a 78-65 upset of the second-seeded Purdue Boilermakers. There was a familiar foe on the Texas Tech sideline for the Boilermakers, that being Chris Beard, who was the head coach of Arkansas-Little Rock when they took down Purdue in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. That success landed him the job with the Red Raiders, and now he has led the team to the Elite Eight in just his second season with the program. His star, Keenan Evans, stepped up with 12 of his 16 points coming in the second half, where the Red Raiders scored 11 straight points to pull away for good. They gained that advantage by out-rebounding the Boilermakers, 34-30, and shooting at a 52 percent clip after halftime. They also took advantage of Purdue playing shorthanded, as they were again without their big man, Isaac Haas. They did get 30 points from Carsen Edwards and a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds from Vincent Edwards. The Red Raiders will hope to advance to their first Final Four, but will have to get past top-seeded Villanova on Sunday afternoon.
Duke Fights Off Syracuse in Sweet 16
The Duke Blue Devils nearly fell for the Syracuse Orange's gameplan that has led Jim Boeheim's team to three straight wins in the NCAA Tournament. That gameplan was their defense forcing the opposing team to play down to their offensive level, and a for a while, that was exactly the case on Friday night. Although, the Blue Devils found a way to crack their defense, as Marvin Bagley III had 22 points in a 65-62 win over the Orange to advance to the Elite Eight. The win comes despite being out-shot 49 percent-39 percent, and shooting just 19 percent from three-point range. Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. each made free throws down the stretch, as the Blue Devils used the get-to-the-line strategy to get the best of the pesky Orange. That worked out just fine for them, as they inch closer to what would be coach Mike Krzyzewski's record 13th Final Four, as he is currently tied with John Wooden with 12 appearances. Trent Jr.'s free throws with 6.3 seconds left sealed the deal officially, ending Syracuse's hopes of repeating a remarkable run that they had in 2015 when they reached the Final Four as a 10-seed. They would've become the second 11-seed to reach the Elite Eight this year, with Loyola Chicago doing so in the South Region. But it was Duke who came out on top and they will move on to a 1-2 matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks on Sunday.
Villanova, Kansas Advance as Top Seeds
Two top seeds remain in the NCAA Tournament field, and both of those teams stayed alive on Friday night and advances to the Elite Eight. First, many's favorites to win it all, the Villanova Wildcats, got past the fifth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers with a 90-78 win. The Wildcats made half of their shots and finished at a 54 percent mark from three-point range and were led by Jalen Brunson's 27 points. Omari Spellman added 18 points and eight rebounds for Nova, who shot 13-of-24 from beyond the arc and now have 44 made three-pointers in the tournament. The Mountaineers got 16 points from Daxter Miles, while Jevon Carter and Sagaba Konate added 12 points apiece in the loss. Villanova will battle Texas A&M on Sunday in the Elite Eight. The Kansas Jayhawks also advanced as the only other top seed left with a 60-56 win over the Clemson Tigers. Malik Newman had 17 points to lead the Jayhawks, who advanced to their third straight Elite Eight. Devonte' Graham added 16 points for Kansas, as they led by as many as 20 before the Tigers made things interesting late. Clemson was able to storm back behind Gabe DeVoe's career-high 31 points, but could not move on after blowing out Auburn by 31 points in the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks, who are the sixth Bill Self-led team to hold a No. 1 seed, will battle the Duke Blue Devils in a 1-2 matchup on Sunday afternoon.