Mar 28, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) celebrates after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels in the semifinals of the West Regional of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama and Others Have Tickets Punched to Elite Eight

Half of the Elite Eight is set as UConn, Clemson, Alabama and Illinois have all punched their tickets to the next round. Out of four games Thursday night, three of them resulted in an upset. The first No. 1 seed fell  as No. 4 Alabama took down No. 1 North Carolina.

UConn Blows Past San Diego State

The Huskies, a 1-seed, are looking like the hottest team in college basketball. They dominated in a 82-52 win over 5-seed San Diego State in a rematch of the 2023 National Championship Game.

UConn has only trailed a total of 28 seconds in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

To add to the stats, the Huskies won their ninth straight game by double digits in the tournament. So far this tournament, the Huskies have won by 39, 17, and 30.

Head Coach Dan Hurley discussed his team’s way of playing with desperation.

The UConn guards were just too much to handle for the Aztecs. Cam Spencer led the way with 18 points. Spencer had lots of help with Tristian Newton and Stephon Castle pitching in 17 and 16 of their own.

For the Aztecs, Jaedon LeDee started off the game strong with 15 of his 18 points coming in the first half but was shut down by UConn’s defense in the second half.

The No. 1 Huskies will play 3-seed Illinois in the Elite Eight, Saturday.

Clemson Stuns Arizona

For a team who many brackets had chosen losing to New Mexico first round, Clemson is cruising.

Clemson has come into this tournament firing on all cylinders, reaching the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980. Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd discussed the teams poor shooting and the loss.

The Tigers have held each team this tournament to worse than 40% shooting. This was the second time they held a team to less than 20% from 3.

Clemson will face Alabama Saturday for a ticket to the Final Four in Arizona.

First 1-Seed Falls

Alabama, a 4-seed,  stunned the 1-seed Tar Heels in an 89-87 victory.

The Tar Heels went into half leading by 12. However, a second half effort by forward Grant Nelson, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the last 20 minutes of play, put the Tide above the Heels.

Nelson discussed the confidence he received from his team.

North Carolina senior Armando Bacot led the Heels with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the final game of his career. It was also an unfortunate night of shooting for Carolina guard RJ Davis, who went 0-9 from the perimeter. The ACC Player of the Year usually shot 39.8% from 3 coming into the game.

While Davis’s shooting was down, Alabama went 11-26 from 3 shooting 42.3%. Alabama also saw close to 20 points each from four starters with Nelson leading the way.

Alabama will to play Clemson Saturday with the opportunity to possibly advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history.

Fighting Illini Take Down Red Hot Iowa State

Illinois, a 3-seed, took down 2-seed Iowa State in a defensive matchup.

The Illini never trailed in the matchup thanks to the explosive play of Terrence Shannon Jr., who scored 29 points. He’s averaged 31.8 points per game in the past five games.

Iowa State came into this tournament as a dangerous team. Their 69-41 blowout of Houston in the Big 12 Tournament surprised fans. However, the Illini defense held the Cyclones to shooting 39.7% from the field. Illinois also forced nine turnovers and capitalized with 14 points off turnovers.

Like Alabama and Clemson, Illinois advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood discussed competing against the tough Iowa State defense.

Illinois is set to face UConn Saturday for a Final Four berth.

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