Kansas State plays in a city called Manhattan and features four players from New York City, so it seemed fitting that they were cheered like the hometown favorites during a thrilling overtime win over Michigan State, 98-93, in the men’s round of 16 at Madison Square Garden.
Of course, Markquis Nowell had a lot to do with that. He finished off the back-and-forth string of highlights with a strip steal, a fast break and a reverse layup that sent him into the arms of his teammates and the Wildcats’ cheering squad with his 20th point at the buzzer to go with a tournament-record 19 assists.
Fueled by enthusiastic purple-clad fans who made the trip from Manhattan, Kan., the No. 3 seed Wildcats advanced to their first round of 8 appearance in the N.C.A.A. tournament since 2018.
They will face No. 9 Florida Atlantic in Saturday’s East Regional final at the Garden.
With the game tied at 92 in the extra period, Nowell threw an alley-oop from the top of the arc to Keyontae Johnson, who flushed a reverse dunk for a 94-92 lead.
A free throw by Michigan State’s Malik Hill cut the difference to 1, and after several timeouts, Kansas State forward Ismael Massoud, of East Harlem, N.Y., drained a jumper from the right corner to push the lead to 96-93. He finished with 15 points.
That’s when Nowell, finishing off a thrilling display of playmaking and leadership, came up with his steal to stop the Spartans from attempting a shot to push the game to a second overtime.
“We practice in a place of fire all the time, so he was ready for it,” Kansas State Coach Jerome Tang said of Nowell. “That’s a bad boy.”
The game featured 14 ties and 16 lead changes.
Johnson, the Florida transfer who has returned to have a stellar season after collapsing on the court more than two years ago, led the Wildcats (26-9) with 22 points and 6 rebounds.
Nowell, who heard cheers throughout the game and also received the loudest pregame ovation, had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but missed a layup in the final seconds. He battled through a right ankle injury and limped down the stretch.
“When I saw Markquis hobble off, I knew he was coming back,” Tang said. “That dude didn’t come here to get injured in his last college game.”
Another New York native, Harlem’s 6-foot-10 Nae’Qwan Tomlin, was a force in the paint for Kansas State, with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Kansas State was outrebounded 37-31 but made up for it by converting 11 of 24 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and dishing out 26 assists on 38 baskets.
A.J. Hoggard led Michigan State with 25 points and 6 assists. Joey Hauser scored 18, making 4 of 9 from beyond the arc. The Queens native Tyson Walker scored 16, making 4 of 7 from deep, and Jaden Akins 14.
After being picked last in the Big 12 Conference under Tang, a first-year coach, Kansas State is one of two Big 12 teams remaining in the tournament. Texas, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, meets No. 3 Xavier of the Big East on Friday night in Kansas City, Mo.
Among the big names sitting courtside were former N.B.A. star Carmelo Anthony, Jets Coach Robert Saleh, a Michigan native and former Michigan State assistant; the Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Mat Ishbia, a former Michigan State walk-on under Coach Tom Izzo, and the former Spartans basketball stars Steve Smith and Mateen Cleaves.
Michigan State was the final Big Ten team remaining in the tournament after eight made the field of 68. Under Izzo, the Spartans are also the last Big Ten team to win a national championship, and that came back in 2000, when Bill Clinton was in the White House.
Since then, the Atlantic Coast Conference has won eight national championships, the Big East six and the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 three apiece. Teams from the Big 12 have won the past two.
While the Big Ten drought will continue, another Big 12 team moves forward.
Before Thursday night, the last time Gonzaga and U.C.L.A. met in March was two years ago in the Final Four, when the Bulldogs broke the Bruins’ hearts with a 40-foot jump shot at the overtime buzzer to win.
This time around, the teams came close to delivering that kind of thrill ride, with another finish that neither side will soon forget.
Gonzaga won it, 79-76, after Julian Strawther canned a 3-pointer with six seconds to play. It held on when Tyger Campbell’s frantic 3 at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
Strawther’s shot capped a spirited come-from-behind dash for Gonzaga, which erased a 13-point second-half deficit to fell the Bruins and advance to a West Regional final showdown with UConn in Las Vegas on Saturday night. His shot came moments after Amari Bailey hit his own big 3, giving U.C.L.A. a brief advantage with 14 seconds left.
This time there was no overtime, but there sure was, again, Drew Timme, the Gonzaga starter who dominated with a game-high 36 points and 13 rebounds.
He scored early, often and in bunches. He popped for 19 points in the first half and 17 in the second half, and will have U.C.L.A. Coach Mick Cronin and his staff seeing Gonzaga blue until practice begins again in the fall.
Earlier this week, the Gonzaga team was leaving T-Mobile Arena after practice just as U.C.L.A. was arriving, and as the teams passed each other on the loading dock, Timme slapped hands with Jaylen Clark, the injured Bruins junior defensive whiz, rolling in on a scooter. “You doing good, bro?” Timme asked in a fleeting moment of tenderness amid the cacophony of what has become an intensely competitive rivalry.
Without Clark and the big man Adem Bona, who aggravated a shoulder injury last weekend against Northwestern and did not play, the depleted Bruins looked gassed down the stretch as Gonzaga blew past them and took control.
As its lead shrunk and then disappeared, U.C.L.A. went stone cold, scoring only 3 points in a stretch of about 10 minutes in the second half.
It didn’t start out that way. For the most part, against everyone but Timme, U.C.L.A.’s defense dictated the tempo in the first half. The Bruins forced nine Gonzaga turnovers and built a 46-33 halftime lead.
But Gonzaga can play pretty good defense, too, and the Bulldogs tightened things up in the second half. The biggest difference between these two programs and their defensive philosophies is that Gonzaga Coach Mark Few wants his team running, and defense is just something to slow down rivals long enough for the Bulldogs to outscore them.
That’s exactly how the second half played out. As U.C.L.A. tired, Timme and company thoroughly dominated the boards. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Bruins by a wide margin, 50-26, in a game that, much like the Final Four epic played in 2021, will be a raw memory at U.C.L.A. for a long, long time.
No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic delivers a surprise against Tennessee.
Florida Atlantic’s storybook run in the men’s N.C.A.A. tournament continues.
In just its second tournament appearance, F.A.U. has stormed its way from Boca Raton, Fla., into the round of 8 after stunning No. 4 seed Tennessee, 62-55, in at Madison Square Garden.
The ninth-seeded Owls, the winners of 10 straight games, advanced to meet No. 3 seed Kansas State on Saturday, with the winner headed to the Final Four in Houston.
“Fellas, we are not done,” F.A.U. Coach Dusty May told his players in the locker room. “Three more, three more, three more.”
The Owls, backed by a contingent of red-clad fans in F.A.U. gear, used an 18-2 run to seize a 51-41 lead. Senior guard Michael Forrest scored 8 straight on his own in the stretch, including back-to-back 3-pointers during a run in which Tennessee’s shooting went cold.
The Volunteers pulled to 5 down with just under four minutes left, but a layup by Nick Boyd, who grew up about 44 miles from the Garden in Garnerville, N.Y., put the Owls ahead, 57-50. Sophomore guard Johnell Davis made four foul shots down the stretch to extend the lead to 61-52.
“It felt great,” Boyd said after scoring 12 points with 8 rebounds. “I just had to stand on the table and celebrate.”
F.A.U. arrived at this point by beating No. 8 seed Memphis and then knocking off the biggest underdog left, No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, which had defeated top-seeded Purdue in the first round to become just the second No. 16 to beat a No. 1 in the men’s tournament. The Owls qualified for the N.C.A.A. tournament after winning the regular-season and tournament titles in Conference USA.
They certainly had Tennessee’s attention.
“Any team that wins 33 games, I don’t care what league you’re in, because it’s hard,” Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes said Wednesday. “All jobs are hard and difficult jobs, but for them to go through that, the first word that would come to my mind is consistency, because to do that day in and day out, knowing that they became the team that everybody was wanting to beat and gear up for.”
UConn cruised to the round of 8 for the first time since 2014.
They go over, around and sometimes through their opponents. It is no secret. For those who draw Connecticut, it is going to be a dangerous rock fight on the boards.
Arkansas knew this. And, yet, as the first half unspooled at T-Mobile Arena in the round of 16 of the N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball tournament on Thursday, knowledge was not power. The Razorbacks were powerless.
UConn cruised to an 88-65 win to move to an intriguing Saturday matchup against Gonzaga. The Huskies had raced to an early 13-point lead while muscling to a 13-4 rebounding advantage, led by 15 at the half (outrebounding the Hogs 22-9) and never looked back.
UConn dominated in its first trip to the round of 16 since 2014, when the Huskies won a national championship under the former coach Kevin Ollie. With more showings like the one they had against Arkansas, the Huskies could be serious candidates to order another championship banner, which would be their fifth since 1999.
One of their chief weapons is Donovan Clingan, the 7-foot-2 center whose strong play in his freshman season has helped turn many evenings into a party for the Huskies. His entry off the bench midway through the first half came in a tight game with both teams jockeying for position. When he was subbed out four minutes later following a couple of dunks, a rebound and some redirected Arkansas shots, UConn had increased its lead from 15-13 to 28-17.
Neither the lead nor Clingan’s presence, each time he was subbed into the game, diminished for UConn.
By halftime — 46-29, UConn — the facial expressions of the Razorbacks on the court ranged from exasperation to sheer bewilderment.
Thanks largely to their advantage on the boards, the Huskies shot 60 percent (17 for 28) in the first half. They put together a 14-0 run at one point.
Any blowout this deep into the tournament is impressive. But UConn’s rout especially was no fluke: These Razorbacks start two players likely to be lottery picks in this year’s N.B.A. draft, the freshman guards Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black. Two other starters — junior guard Ricky Council IV and freshman guard Jordan Walsh — are projected to have strong N.B.A. futures, as well.
The Razorbacks are long, lean and athletic, and they have six players with wingspans greater than 7 feet.
“We pride ourselves on defense. Whoever it is, we feel like we can go out there, shut them down and make sure they have an off night,” UConn senior guard Tristen Newton said before practice on Wednesday.
That defense, combined with UConn’s average of outrebounding opponents by more than nine per game, ranked third in Division I, was enough to completely overwhelm a team coming off a 72-71 upset of No. 1 seed Kansas.
It wasn’t close.