The first day of the Sweet Sixteen was defined by three very close games, as Gonzaga, Xavier and Oregon all one on a go-ahead or tie-breaking shot to win the game. In the meantime, Kansas were the only ones to finish the job early and have some fun in the end, as they upended Purdue in a 32-point blowout en route to the Elite Eight.
West Virginia 58 Gonzaga 61: The end of the road for the Mountaineers, who couldn’t get a decent shot off on their final possession to try and send the game into overtime. Jordan Mathews, finishing with a team-high 13 points (tied with two other players), hit the go-ahead 3-pointer for Gonzaga with under a minute to go. West Virginia shot just 26.7% from the field, but thrived off turnovers (forced 16) and offensive rebounds, grabbing 20 of them. It’s only the third time for Gonzaga in the Elite Eight, and second in three years.
Purdue 66 Kansas 98: Caleb Swanigan showed up for Purdue with 18 points, but outside of their big star the Boilermakers had nothing to give against probably the best team left in the field. Josh Jackson wasn’t having too big of a night, but Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham were happy to pick up the slack, each scoring 26 points. The Jayhawks advance into the Elite Eight for the 2nd straight year, aiming to make the Final Four for the first time since 2012.
Xavier 73 Arizona 71: Once again Sean Miller and Arizona are left wondering what isn’t working for them in the postseason, falling to #11 seed Xavier. Arizona had a 7-point lead with 2:52 to go but didn’t score a single time the rest of the way, while Sean O’Mara hit a layup with 44 seconds on the clock to lift Xavier into the Elite Eight for just the third time in program history, and their first since 2008. Arizona will extend their Final Four drought to 16 years.
Michigan 68 Oregon 69: Oregon are in the Elite Eight for the second straight season, a first for the program, that’s trying to make the Final Four for the first time since 1939. In a great game against Michigan, the Ducks took the lead with 1:09 to go through Tyler Dorsey (team-high 20 points), and the game went scoreless from there. Oregon shot a terrific 47.1% from beyond the arc, and if it wasn’t from their poor shooting from the line, it probably would have been over a bit sooner.