Stanford Is the First Women’s No. 1 Out, Falling to Mississippi

Stanford is the first top seed in the women’s tournament to miss the round of 16 since Duke in 2009. The surprise run for the men’s No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson ended in a loss to Florida Atlantic.

Mississippi guard Angel Baker, left, and Stanford forward Cameron Brink, right, vie for the ball.
Stanford’s Cameron Brink fighting for the ball with Mississippi’s Angel Baker in the teams’ Sunday night game.Credit...Josie Lepe/Associated Press

So wait, did this three-day stretch really happen this way?

  • Friday — a men’s No. 1 seed loses (Purdue). 😲

  • Saturday — a men’s No. 1 seed loses (Kansas, the reigning champion). 😵‍💫

  • Sunday — a women’s No. 1 seed loses (Stanford, on its home floor). 🤯

By the time the final half of the women’s round of 16 is set on Monday night, a breather from this five-day, 96-game bonanza of hoops will be more than needed.

For the first time in 14 seasons, Stanford will not advance to the round of 16 in the N.C.A.A. women’s tournament.

Eighth-seeded Mississippi ousted Stanford, a No. 1 seed, on Sunday night, 54-49. The Rebels smothered a college basketball juggernaut with a physical defense that forced one of Stanford’s worst shooting games of the season.

Stanford is the first No. 1 seed not to advance to the round of 16 in the women’s tournament since Duke lost to Michigan State in the round of 32 in 2009.

“This is for the people with $1 and a dream,” Mississippi Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said in a teary television interview after the win. “I’m a little girl from the Bahamas that was given an opportunity.”

After the win, the Mississippi players danced and celebrated with the school’s band as it played the fight song in Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.

Angel Baker led Mississippi with 13 points and 4 rebounds; Marquesha Davis added 12 points and 4 steals.

Mississippi’s Jordan Berry, left, and Madison Scott celebrating the team’s win over top-seeded Stanford.Credit...Josie Lepe/Associated Press

Stanford tied the game with just over a minute left. But the Cardinal turned the ball over on three straight possessions and were forced to foul, held without a field goal in the last two minutes.

Just two seasons ago, Stanford was celebrating after defeating Arizona for a national title. Under Coach Tara VanDerveer, competing for championships has been the standard, with Stanford proving one of the most consistent teams in college basketball since the 1980s, winning three national championships.

Some observers had predicted that Mississippi could give Stanford trouble, noting that South Carolina, the overall No. 1 seed, needed overtime to beat the Rebels in a game in February.

Stanford also had not looked like the juggernaut this season that it had been in years past. The Cardinal stumbled into the tournament, losing to U.C.L.A. in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament. It was the first time since 2016 that Stanford had not made its conference title game.

Throughout the season, the offense fluctuated from spectacular to lethargic. There was a 101-point outburst in a win against Arizona State, for instance, and a 46-point output in a loss to Southern California.

Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer couldn’t engineer a comeback win on Sunday.Credit...Josie Lepe/Associated Press

Even Stanford’s positioning as a No. 1 seed came with some debate. The Cardinal earned the top billing in their region over Iowa, which won its conference tournament and finished No. 2 in the final national rankings. The Hawkeyes are now the top team left in their region after they overcame a scare from Georgia on Sunday.

Mississippi had not come into this game exactly rolling either, with a few scattered losses before the national tournament, including a 29-point drubbing from South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference semifinals.

But the double-digit loss seemed to be an outlier given how Mississippi had played against the Gamecocks during the regular season, in which it held the odds-on favorite for a national title to its third-lowest scoring total. That game, played at a slow pace that forced South Carolina into difficult shots, was the kind of game that Mississippi imposed on Stanford on Sunday.

Mississippi will face the Louisville-Texas winner in Seattle on Friday. — Kris Rhim

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Florida Atlantic, a ninth seed in rare position to play a second-round N.C.A.A. tournament game as a heavy favorite, swiftly ended the improbable run of No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday night, 78-70, stopping F.D.U.’s bid for an encore following its takedown of top-seeded Purdue.

The nearly 20,000-person crowd in Nationwide Arena stayed late into the night to see the Knights attempt another shocking victory with the shortest roster in the nation and its signature style of “bedlam” basketball. Fans of Marquette and Michigan State, who had just watched their teams duel, stayed to root for the underdogs from Teaneck, N.J., showering the arena throughout the game with chants of “F.D.U.! F.D.U.!” Some fans, without other options, wore plain T-shirts with the team’s initials scrawled on with a marker.

Fans at Nationwide Arena showing their allegiance to Fairleigh Dickinson.Credit...Dylan Buell/Getty Images

But F.A.U., which secured its first N.C.A.A. tournament win on Friday in a thrilling finish against Memphis, made F.D.U. look overmatched for much of the game. Bickering frequently with F.D.U., the Owls played as if the matchup was somehow personal. The team was led by a strutting Johnell Davis, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Gary, Ind., who finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds. He occasionally stared at F.D.U. guards after he scored, as if to remind them that they were still underdogs.

The game ended with a failed attempt to humiliate F.D.U., when Alijah Martin, a sophomore guard, attempted a spinning, windmill dunk with his team up 8, after F.D.U.’s coach called for his team to concede on defense. Martin clanged the dunk off the back of the rim and boos rang out from the stands. Fairleigh Dickinson Coach Tobin Anderson confronted F.A.U.’s coach, Dusty May, in the postgame handshake line, and May apologized.

“We’re adults, we gotta fix that behavior,” May told a television reporter afterward.

Midway through the game, the Knights, with their fast, kinetic offense and fierce defense, looked at times like they might pull off another upset. Down 32-25 at the half, Sean Moore, a junior forward, quickly brought the game to within 2 when he made a 3-pointer 70 seconds into the half. That was followed by another 3 from Joe Munden Jr., a junior guard, that gave F.D.U. a lead.

The arena roared. F.D.U. players put their arms around each other’s shoulders on the bench, jumping up and down with joy. Anderson frantically paced up and down the sideline, shouting and working to keep his team focused by twirling his pointer finger — the signal for his team to keep moving.

After the game, Anderson said that the hardest part about the loss was “not being able to go to practice the next day.” He was losing Demetre Roberts and Grant Singleton, two undersized, talented guards who had played for him at Division II St. Thomas Aquinas College before they helped transform F.D.U.’s basketball team this season.

“We’re right there to go to the Sweet 16. If that’s not one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life or anybody else has seen,” Anderson said. “That’s crazy.”

He was still reckoning with his team’s new stardom. He said that as he watched the Marquette-Michigan State game inside the arena earlier Sunday evening, fans came up to him asking for pictures.

Florida Atlantic stopped Fairleigh Dickinson’s N.C.A.A. tournament run Sunday in the second round.Credit...Paul Sancya/Associated Press

“Who wants to get a picture with me 48 hours ago?” he said. “Imagine being 19, 20 years old. All of a sudden you’ve got cameras around, we’ve got people around, they’re on ESPN. It’s a lot.”

As a tournament official called for the news conference to wrap up, Anderson pleaded to keep going.

“We can go on as long as we want to. I don’t care. We’ve got a charter in the middle of the night or something. I’m on the ‘Today Show’ tomorrow morning,” he said. “So I’m not going to sleep anyway.”

Before he left the stage, he told his brother and sister that he loved them, then mentioned his late parents. He began to cry.

“We’re going to work and get better and use this and use the momentum we created to make the program better,” he said. “And at some point I’m going fishing.” — Noah Weiland

Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes survived a scare against Georgia to make the round of 16.Credit...Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Second-seeded Iowa and its star shooter, Caitlin Clark, are heading to the women’s round of 16 after just holding off Georgia in a tightly contested game.

The teams traded blows and exchanged the lead nine times, but the Hawkeyes took a lead at the end of the third quarter that they wouldn’t relinquish. Iowa managed enough elbow room in the fourth quarter to hold off the Bulldogs, 74-66, even as they pulled within 2 with just over 2 minutes left on Audrey Warren’s 3-pointer, her only basket of the game.

From there, Clark spent much of the rest of the game trying to weave between Georgia defenders as they attempted to foul her, hitting the floor several times. Clark hit a jumper and four free throws in the final minute, perhaps her most important moments in a game in which she never left the floor and tallied 22 points and 12 assists despite shooting only 35 percent.

Georgia, which hasn’t made the round of 16 since 2013, tried to stifle Clark with quick defense, which caught the Hawkeyes off guard for much of the first half. Diamond Battles kept things close with her outside shooting and finished with 21 points.

Still, it was no match for Clark’s wizardry and ball control, especially in the final minutes.

The Hawkeyes will meet the winner between Duke and Colorado, which play Monday night, on Friday in Seattle. — Remy Tumin

Women’s Bracket

    • 1
      South Carolina
    • 2
    • 3
      Louisiana State
    • 1
      Virginia Tech
Markquis Nowell of Kansas State celebrating in front of the Kentucky bench, including Coach John Calipari.Credit...Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Kentucky became the latest college basketball blue blood to be ousted from the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament in its first weekend.

One day after Duke and Kansas, the reigning champion, were knocked out in the second round, No. 6 seed Kentucky was beaten by Kansas State, 75-69. Though Kansas State was seeded No. 3, Kentucky had been favored in the game, by 3 points.

Kentucky’s loss mirrored another on Saturday by Duke, which was seeded fifth and lost to No. 4 seed Tennessee by 13, despite odds that reflected its popularity and betting support.

Markquis Nowell, Kansas State’s 5-foot-8 point guard, had a brilliant game with 27 points and nine assists, carving up the Kentucky defense with timely passes, big 3-point shots and clutch free throws.

“They were playing me for the pass because I dropped a lot of dimes in the first half,” Nowell said. “I tried to look for my own shot a little bit more and be more aggressive, and I wanted to go to New York.”

Nowell, a Harlem native, will return home for his next game: Kansas State (24-9) will play in the round of 16 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden against No. 7 seed Michigan State.

Ismael Massoud and Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Kansas State up 67-62 after it trailed by 1. Nowell made six foul shots in the final seconds.

The loss was the latest stinging defeat for Kentucky Coach John Calipari, the highest-paid coach in college basketball, and is likely to spur further unrest among the rabid Kentucky fans known as Big Blue Nation.

Calipari led Kentucky to the national championship in 2012 and to three other Final Four appearances. But last year, the Wildcats were stunned as a No. 2 by the No. 15-seeded St. Peter’s in the first round, and they missed the tournament altogether in 2021.

“There’s a high expectation level, and it is Kentucky,” Calipari said. “You put that on. The other team is going to play out of their minds, and they’re going to play like they have nothing to lose.”

Under its first-year coach, Jerome Tang, Kansas State was picked to finish last in the Big 12 Conference but has enjoyed its first winning season since 2018-19. It last made the round of 16 in 2018, under its previous coach, Bruce Weber, who retired after last season.

For Kentucky, Oscar Tshiebwe, the national player of the year last season, was dominant in the paint with 25 points and 18 rebounds, while freshman Cason Wallace notched 21 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. — Adam Zagoria

Men’s Bracket

    • 5
      San Diego State
    • 9
      Florida Atlantic
    • 5
      Miami (Fla.)
    • 4
Tyson Walker scored 23 points for Michigan State in the Spartans’ win over Marquette.Credit...Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Seventh-seeded Michigan State upset second-seeded Marquette, 69-60, on Sunday in a ruthless, tit-for-tat matchup, claiming an unlikely spot in the round of 16 against Kansas State at Madison Square Garden.

Tom Izzo, M.S.U.’s combustible, emotional 28-year coach, fought back tears on the bench with under 30 seconds remaining, then broke down after the final buzzer as he raised his fists in celebratory relief. As he prepared for a radio interview across the court minutes later, he put his hands on his knees, bending down and shaking his head. He then wiped away tears.

Marquette well-surpassed low expectations this season. The Golden Eagles had been picked to finish ninth out of 11 teams in the Big East Conference before the season, but won the competitive league behind plucky point guard Tyler Kolek, who scored just 7 points on Sunday.

Marquette’s luck (and a 10-game win streak) ended in a packed, noisy, tense Nationwide Arena in Columbus, where its fans appeared to outnumber M.S.U.’s despite the greater distance from Milwaukee.

Izzo said Sunday’s game was as intense and difficult as any he had coached in his career, mentioning the many times his teams had played deep into N.C.A.A. tournaments. “That was a war. That was a 2000 game. I felt like Mateen Cleaves,” a reference to his national championship-winning team and its star point guard.

M.S.U., which beat Southern California in a first-round game on Friday, appeared to have cleverly scouted Marquette’s offensive playbook, repeatedly cutting off passing lanes and generating nine steals.

“They took us out of our rhythm,” Kolek said after the game.

The game was tight until the end, with the teams separated by a single point with under four minutes left. But Michigan State guard Tyson Walker delivered 9 of the Spartans’ final 13 points, including a critical contested layup, to help seal the game.

A Long Island native, Walker said that he was eager to compete in Madison Square Garden, his home state’s most famous basketball venue. — Noah Weiland

BATON ROUGE, La. — Coach Kim Mulkey had said her Louisiana State team would not “live and die by the 3.” But the long-range shot came in handy for the Tigers on Sunday against Michigan.

The Wolverines had cut into the Tigers’ double-digit halftime lead before Angel Reese made a layup and got fouled. She did not convert the and-one, but L.S.U. got an even better result: LaDazhia Williams secured the offensive rebound and Kateri Poole made a 3-pointer for a 5-point trip down the floor.

Third-seeded L.S.U. would go on to push its lead back to double figures and easily beat sixth-seeded Michigan, 66-42, in the second round of the women’s N.C.A.A. tournament. The Tigers will face second-seeded Utah on Friday in Greenville, S.C. It will be their first round-of-16 game since 2014.

Sequences like Poole’s third-quarter 3-pointer buoyed L.S.U., which shot just 35.3 percent but was able to take 22 more attempts than the Wolverines because of its offensive rebounding advantage, 22-5. L.S.U. had 18 second-chance points to Michigan’s 2.

Three-pointers had helped L.S.U. build its lead. Guard Jasmine Carson came off the bench to make three 3-pointers as part of an 11-0 run early in the second quarter.

“I thought if they’re going to stay in this zone, let me give Jazz a look, and she came just smoking,” Mulkey said in a postgame news conference, adding, “She’s our hero.”

Reese led the Tigers with her 30th double-double of the season, fighting hard for 14 offensive rebounds and scoring 25 points with putbacks, post moves, dribble-drives to the basket and free throws.

She was also key to the Tigers’ defensive effort, like when she switched onto Michigan guard Laila Phelia at the end of the third quarter and forced a shot-clock violation. She punctuated the performance by blocking an Emily Kiser 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter and making an X motion across her chest.

Phelia scored 20 points for Michigan, but its other two leading scorers, Leigha Brown and Kiser, who each had averaged more than 16 points per game, combined for just 7 points. The loss ends Michigan’s bid to make a third straight appearance in the round of 16.

L.S.U. guard Alexis Morris knew it would be her last home game no matter what. She ended it with a win, a leap into the student section and a trip to the round of 16. — Evan Easterling

Aliyah Boston questioned a call early in South Carolina’s second-round game against South Florida. But her team left no doubt about its dominance after some early struggles.Credit...Sean Rayford/Associated Press

It looked, for a few early moments, like women’s college basketball was in for a seismic upset.

South Carolina, the overall No. 1 seed and odds-on favorite to win the N.C.A.A. tournament, was trailing eighth-seeded South Florida, 16-12, after one quarter. The Gamecocks were hitting less than 36 percent of their shots and had committed five turnovers. South Florida was playing like it wasn’t afraid of the reigning champion.

But the game is 40 minutes, not 10.

After the rocky start, more of South Carolina’s shots started falling, and the Gamecocks raised the defensive pressure considerably on the Bulls. South Carolina pulled ahead by 4 points at halftime and then hit the gas in the second half, running away with the 76-45 victory.

Forward Aliyah Boston said in a postgame TV interview that the slow start was a product of South Florida’s defensive intensity.

“We were just trying to figure them out a little bit,” she said.

And they did. South Carolina moved the ball freely in the second half and committed just four turnovers, while holding South Florida to just 7 points in the third quarter and 9 in the fourth.

Elena Tsineke led the early charge for South Florida with 7 points in the first. She finished with a team-high 20.

Guard Zia Cooke paced South Carolina with 21 points. Boston added 11 points and 11 rebounds for her 81st career double-double. The team’s depth was also on display, with 14 players hitting the floor and 11 of them scoring.

The Gamecocks pushed their record to 34-0 and will play in the round of 16 for the ninth consecutive tournament. — Sara Ziegler

ALBANY, N.Y. — Dan Hurley is in his fifth season as the men’s coach at Connecticut, but before this year, his Huskies had never won an N.C.A.A. tournament game.

Now they’ve won two, and they’re hungry for more.

Behind another dominant performance from 6-foot-9, 245-pound big man Adama Sanogo, who went for 24 points and 8 rebounds, the fourth-seeded Huskies fended off No. 5 seed St. Mary’s, 70-55. On Thursday in Las Vegas, they will meet No. 8 seed Arkansas, which upset Kansas, a No. 1 and the reigning champion, on Saturday.

Adama Sanogo and UConn beat St. Mary’s to return to the round of 16.Credit...Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It is the first round-of-16 appearance for the Huskies since 2014, when they won their fourth national championship.

“They’ve got all the metrics to win a national championship,” Iona Coach Rick Pitino said of the Huskies, after Sanogo tallied 28 points and 13 rebounds against the Gaels on Friday. The ESPN analyst Jay Bilas also picked UConn to win the national title.

The decidedly pro-Connecticut crowd at MVP Arena included the actor Bill Murray, whose son Luke is a Connecticut assistant. After taking a 1-point halftime lead, the Huskies opened the second half with a 20-10 run. The crowd chanted “Let’s go, Huskies,” and let out a roar when Jordan Hawkins hit three key 3-pointers during a stretch midway through the second half that UConn used to pull away. He finished with 12 points, while point guard Tristen Newton scored 13.

Hurley is the brother of Bobby Hurley, the Arizona State coach and former Duke star whose team lost in the first round, and the son of Naismith Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. Hurley said he knows he has a team capable of making a deep run.

“This is the pressure business,” Hurley said this week. “I’m fortunate that the way I was raised, my upbringing in the game, I’ve been around this my whole life.” — Adam Zagoria

One element of the N.C.A.A. tournaments that emerges with so many teams playing simultaneously and in rapid succession: No program wants to end up a cautionary example in their bracket, and sometimes a team takes out that sentiment on its opponent.

That was how No. 3 seed Xavier approached Pittsburgh, a No. 11 seed that had come into the Sunday matchup looking like it had a fresh mandate after sneaking into the field, then winning a play-in game and dispatching Iowa State with ease in the first round.

Ultimately that was all just fodder for the Musketeers, who got spooked by Kennesaw State in a first-round game early Friday afternoon and then watched over the next 48 hours as so many big programs — Purdue, Duke, Kansas — faltered.

They took that out on the Panthers, running up the score by playing well down low, passing skillfully and steeling themselves for a run, much like a tennis or boxing mismatch in which one side wants to dominate by directly rattling and outmaneuvering their opponent.

So when Pitt had its one good run late, to get within 8 points with less than two minutes left, it was too little too late to stop Xavier from advancing to the round of 16, 84-73, and looking strong while doing it. — Oskar Garcia