UW Huskies Insider

Tag: NCAA Tournament

March
29th

Morning links: Arizona, last Pac-12 team standing, bounced by hot-shooting Wisconsin

Arizona guard T.J. McConnell hugs head coach Sean Miller as he leaves the game against Wisconsin during the second half of a college basketball regional final in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Wisconsin beat Arizona 85-78 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Arizona guard T.J. McConnell hugs head coach Sean Miller as he leaves the game against Wisconsin during the second half of a college basketball regional final in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. Wisconsin beat Arizona 85-78 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Pac-12 sent three teams to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but the conference will not have a Final Four participant.

Arizona, the last Pac-12 team standing, lost 85-78 yesterday to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight. UCLA lost to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, and Utah lost to Duke in the Sweet 16. That means Stanford, which faces Old Dominion on Tuesday night in the NIT semifinals, is the only Pac-12 team still playing.

Also, a reminder that the Huskies begin spring football practices on Monday morning. In a departure from recent years, coach Chris Petersen will not have a press conference to preview the spring, but is scheduled to speak with reporters following the conclusion of Monday’s practice. On to some links: Read more »

March
22nd

NCAA tournament at KeyArena: Gonzaga advances to Sweet 16 for first time since 2009 with dominant 87-68 win over Iowa

Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer, right, embraces Kevin Pangos after the team beat Iowa in an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 32 in Seattle, Sunday, March 22, 2015. Gonzaga won 87-68. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, right, embraces Kevin Pangos after the team beat Iowa in an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 32 in Seattle, Sunday, March 22, 2015. Gonzaga won 87-68. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE – Disappointment visited the Gonzaga Bulldogs in each of the past five seasons, each endeavor hopeful until the NCAA tournament’s first weekend.

That’s where Gonzaga lost, five years running, nary a Sweet 16 to show for a half-decade span that otherwise featured noteworthy performance.

Byron Wesley played in exactly zero of those games. Yet he had no choice but to embrace the sting.

“That’s pretty much the talk around town, is that Gonzaga, they always win their league, they always win the league championship, but in the tournament, they always fold and lose early,” said Wesley, a Gonzaga senior guard who transferred after playing his first three seasons for USC. “So I think it’s definitely frustrating when you hear that so much, and people always talk about how they just can’t get to that next level.”

They will not be saying it on Monday morning. Not here. Not in Spokane. And certainly not in Iowa City, where the Iowa Hawkeyes must now return after Gonzaga buried them on Sunday afternoon beneath an insurmountable pile of 3-point jumpers and easy interior buckets, the Bulldogs racing to a thoroughly dominant 87-68 victory before a sellout crowd of 14,901 at KeyArena that amounted to equal parts excitement and catharsis.

It’s now on to Houston, where 2nd-seeded Gonzaga (34-2) will face a familiar opponent – 11th-seeded UCLA, which GU defeated by 13 points, in Los Angeles, on Dec. 13 – in its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2009. Read more »

March
22nd

NCAA tournament at KeyArena: Gonzaga-Iowa a sizable second-round matchup

Iowa's Aaron White turns to get congratulations as he sits in the bench late in the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. White led all scorers with 26 points and Iowa won 83-52. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Iowa’s Aaron White turns to get congratulations as he sits in the bench late in the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. White led all scorers with 26 points and Iowa won 83-52. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

— Kevin Pangos had already heard the question. It was a common one during the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ media availability Saturday before Sunday’s round-of-32 NCAA tournament South Region game against Iowa.

The Zags (33-2) have big guys who can score. The Hawkeyes (21-11) have big guys who can score. And they’re one of the only teams left in this tournament that has big guys who might be able to stop Gonzaga’s big guys from scoring.

So, if the Zags are to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2009, they must do it by defeating a team that looks more like them than most others still playing.

“Everyone’s asking that one, actually,” Pangos said with a laugh inside Gonzaga’s locker room, about 24 hours prior to Sunday’s 4:10 p.m. tipoff at KeyArena. “Yeah, there’s a lot of similarities — just how they move the ball, and they spread it around. All five guys on the floor on their team can all be effective and score.” Read more »

March
20th

NCAA tournament at KeyArena: Gonzaga uses size to overcome Dexter Werner, North Dakota State for 86-76 victory

Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer (33) shoots between North Dakota State's Dexter Werner (40) and A.J. Jacobson (21) during the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. Gonzaga won 86-76. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer (33) shoots between North Dakota State’s Dexter Werner (40) and A.J. Jacobson (21) during the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. Gonzaga won 86-76. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE – Few teams in the country possess the kind of size necessary to adequately defend the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

North Dakota State, try as it did here at KeyArena in its opening-round game of the NCAA tournament, is not one of them.

Gonzaga knew this. And while the Bison countered gamely with the aggression of 6-foot-6 forward Dexter Werner – he was the primary contributor to a second-half spark that trimmed GU’s lead to single-digits in the second half – the Bulldogs still escaped with an 86-76 victory before a sellout crowd of 14,852.

Gonzaga was able to withstand Werner’s 22 points – 18 of them in the second half –thanks to the play of its towering frontcourt.

Kyle Wiltjer, the 6-foot-10 junior, scored 23 points. Przemek Karnowski, the 7-foot-1 junior, added 11 points, nine in the first half. Domantas Sabonis, another 6-foot-10 guy, scored seven points and snagged a team-best 11 rebounds. As a team, GU enjoyed a 35-24 rebounding advantage. And when the Bulldogs’ big guys weren’t plucking passes from the air and scoring easy baskets, they were leading GU’s parade to the free-throw line, where the Zags shot 19-of-28 and battered the Bison into inescapable foul trouble.

That was certainly by design.

“They’re not a deep team,” Wiltjer said. “They don’t really play a lot of guys off the bench. So coach (Mark Few) really emphasized our bigs just posting up hard, and we’re not going to get the ball every time, but if we post up hard, we’re going to pin fouls on them. And in the second half, we really got rewarded by being able to score some easy shots.” Read more »

March
20th

If Gonzaga finishes this off, Iowa’s towering backcourt will be in the Zags’ way to the Sweet 16

By Gregg Bell / Staff writer

SEATTLE — Oh, yeah, size matters. Gonzaga may be about to find out just how much.

As tall as harvest-time corn, the seventh-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes didn’t defeat the diminutive Davidson Wildcats Friday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament as much as they overwhelmed them.

Aaron White, 6 feet 9 with the touch of a painter, drained jumpers for 26 points. Peter Jok, a 6-6 nightmare of a matchup at another wing, made consecutive 3-pointers for half of his 12 points. And Jarrod Uthoff, 6-9, smothered Davidson’s star with a decisive five-inch height advantage in an 83-52 runaway at packed, jazzed KeyArena.

The Hawkeyes (22-11) won an NCAA tournament game for the first time since March 15, 2001, and this was their largest NCAA margin of victory ever. They had four NCAA losses in a row – until running past and towering over the dazed Wildcats as if they were still in high school.

“We’re really long. Our length really worked,” Jok said in a business-as-usual locker room for the third-place team in the thudding Big Ten. “That really bothered them.”

How much will it bother second-seeded Gonzaga in Sunday’s matchup for a place in the Sweet 16 — assuming the Zags don’t gag this double-digit lead over the final 23 minutes in the last of today’s four NCAA games at rockin’ KeyArena. Read more »

March
20th

NCAA tournament at KeyArena: Louisville escapes biggest of the big men in 57-55 win over UC Irvine

Louisville's Wayne Blackshear, left, puts up a shot against UC Irvine's Mamadou Ndiaye (34) in the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. Louisville beat UC Irvine 57-55. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear, left, puts up a shot against UC Irvine’s Mamadou Ndiaye (34) in the second half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. Louisville beat UC Irvine 57-55. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

By Gregg Bell / Staff writer

SEATTLE — This “Big Dance” isn’t too big for a freshman.

Quentin Snider, playing his first NCAA tournament game for his hometown team, swished two one-and-one free throws – his only foul shots of the game — with 8.9 seconds remaining and fourth-seeded Louisville escaped the second round of East region with a 57-55 victory over 13th-seeded UC Irvine at roaring, just-about-packed KeyArena in Seattle.

“It’s the first round. It’s very difficult,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said after a performance that was far from those of his previous national-title and Final Four teams.

“You’re in dogfights.”

This was one.

Snider’s free throws came after Luke Nelson had two chances to give the Anteaters (21-13) of the Big West Conference the lead. After his second miss, Snider got pushed into the Irvine bench while tracking down the rebound in the backcourt.

“Pretty much I just tried to have confidence in myself,” Snider said. “Come through the game, coming into the game, just have confidence. It is my first NCAA Tournament, you know, just try to be confident.” Read more »

March
20th

NCAA tournament at KeyArena: Thudding defense on Nance sends Northern Iowa past Wyoming, 71-54

Northern Iowa forward Marvin Singleton, left, shoots against Wyoming forward Derek Cooke Jr., right, during the first half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Northern Iowa forward Marvin Singleton, left, shoots against Wyoming forward Derek Cooke Jr., right, during the first half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

By Gregg Bell / Staff writer

SEATTLE — Marvin Singleton scored exactly zero points and eventually fouled out.

But his defense on Wyoming’s star is why Northern Iowa went out big early to advance in the first of four NCAA tournament games today at KeyArena in Seattle.

Singleton kept Larry Nance Sr. without a field goal for the first 25 minutes. That allowed Northern Iowa to build a 21-point lead early in the second half of its 71-54 victory in a second-round game inside the East Regional.

Paul Jesperson scored 15 points and made three of six 3-point shots for Northern Iowa (31-3), which won an NCAA tourney came for the first time since its shocking upset of top-seeded Kansas in the Sweet 16 of the 2010 tournament. The Missouri Valley regular-season and tournament champion advance to Sunday’s third round against the winner of this afternoon’s game between fourth-seeded Louisville and 13 seed UC-Irvine.

Singleton banged and pulled and basically tormented Nance throughout a bruising first half. Nance, averaging 16.1 points per game, didn’t get his first field goal until 15:00 remaining. Singleton was on the bench with three fouls then. Nance proceeded to make five shots in 4 minutes, two of them 3-pointers, to lead the Cowboys storming back from being down by 21 early in the second half to within 55-46.  Read more »

March
20th

Seeded No. 2, Gonzaga tries again to advance past first weekend of NCAA tournament

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few motions during practice for an NCAA college basketball tournament second round game in Seattle, Thursday, March 19, 2015. Gonzaga plays North Dakota State on Friday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few motions during practice for an NCAA college basketball tournament second round game in Seattle, Thursday, March 19, 2015. Gonzaga plays North Dakota State on Friday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

— It is difficult to examine this Gonzaga Bulldogs men’s basketball team, seeded No. 2 in the South region of the NCAA tournament and slated for a 6:50 p.m. opening-round tipoff on Friday against 15th-seed North Dakota State, and not wonder how closely their fortunes resemble the Gonzaga squad that tore through the West Coast Conference two seasons ago.

That team, like this one, had just two losses entering the NCAA tourney. They each ran away with the WCC regular-season championship (with a 17-1 record this year, and a 16-0 mark two years ago), won the WCC tournament championship, lost once at home, and lost once on the road, in a close game, to a quality opponent (13th-ranked Butler in 2012-13, 3rd-ranked Arizona this season).

The two-years-ago Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in both major polls coming into the tourney. This year’s team, currently ranked 7th, spent almost all of the season in the top 10 and peaked at No. 2 in early February.

But there is a looming, ever-important distinction this year’s team would rather not share with the highly successful crew of 2012-13.

When March arrived, those Bulldogs lost in the round of 32. Just like they did last year. And just like they did in the three seasons prior to their ascension to No. 1.

So Friday’s matchup at KeyArena against NDSU, champions of the Summit League, is likely not what most riles the nerves of Gonzaga supporters. It’s that second-round game — third round, technically, for the heretics who prefer official NCAA parlance — that has most troubled coach Mark Few and the perennial WCC frontrunners.

“I think there’s definite similarities, just with the way the season’s gone, and the guys on the team are really deep, like we were that year,” said senior point guard Kevin Pangos, who was a sophomore the last time Gonzaga began the NCAA tournament as a highly-seeded favorite. “The difference, I think, is that we’ve been through it once. There’s about three, four, five of us that have been through it before, so I think that can only benefit us. That’s why I’m looking forward to this year, going into it.” Read more »