NCAA Tournament

NCAA Tournament buzz: No. 1 seed Villanova falls hard

North Carolina State knocked out Villanova on Saturday night in Pittsburg. The Wolfpack’s Abdul-Malik Abu dunked during the second half as part of N.C. State’s 71-68 win.
North Carolina State knocked out Villanova on Saturday night in Pittsburg. The Wolfpack’s Abdul-Malik Abu dunked during the second half as part of N.C. State’s 71-68 win. Tribune news services

Today’s Bracket Buzz features a bunch of Wildcats: Kentucky, Arizona and Villanova. Two feel good about Saturday’s action. One is devastated.

First 1 (seed) to fall

The NCAA Tournament had settled down after Thursday afternoon’s upsets that included the fall of No. 3 seeds Iowa State and Baylor. Things were getting a chalky with most favorites holding serve on Friday and early Saturday.

Along came North Carolina State. The Wolfpack pushed around smaller Villanova and knocked out the top-seeded Wildcats 71-68.

The biggest NCAA Tournament victory for North Carolina State since … the 1983 NCAA title game victory over Houston? Perhaps.

Saturday, the Wolfpack never trailed in the second half.

Sweet 16 game “stinks”

So says Xavier coach Chris Mack. Oh, he loves that his Musketeers are moving on thanks to a 75-67 victory over Georgia State. It’s the program’s second Sweet 16 appearance in four years.

But Mack would prefer to meet somebody other than Arizona, and not just because the second-seeded Wildcats are solid.

Mack became Xavier’s coach in 2009, elevated when Sean Miller left for Arizona.

“It stinks,” Mack said. “I mean it really stinks when you have to play against somebody who has done so much for you.”

What a day for T.J.

Arizona is in the Sweet 16 for a third straight year because the Wildcats ran away from Ohio State in the second half for a 73-58 victory. And T.J. McConnell was a stud.

He filled up the box score with 19 points, six assists, six rebounds and five steals, but that was only half of his contribution.

McConnell’s defense on Buckeyes freshman star D’Angelo Russell, who went three for 19 from the floor, was critical.

Kentucky wins, but is not at its best

Kentucky improved to 36-0, beat Cincinnati and shot 34.5 percent from the field and was out rebounded by seven.

“I always like it when my team shoots (35) percent and wins by double digits,” Wildcats Coach John Calipari said. “It shows them they don’t have to make shots to win, if you defend, rebound and make your free throws.”

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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