In what might be remembered as no-upset Thursday, all four higher seeds advanced in the first round of Sweet Sixteen games, with Kansas, Oregon, Oklahoma and Villanova advancing into the Elite Eight.
#5 Maryland 63 #1 Kansas 79: The number one seed and probably biggest remaining favorites to win it all struggled in the early goings against Maryland, but their two point lead at halftime grew as they outscored the Terps by 14 points the rest of the way. It’s the 17th straight win for Kansas, led by Perry Ellis who had 27 points in another dominant performance, once again looking unstoppable in the paint despite the best efforts of Diamond Stone and Jake Layman. Maryland tried catching up with long range shots, but hit only 20% of their 25 three pointer attempts, as Melo Trimble scored 17 points but on just 5-of-16 from the field. This is the sixth time Kansas have moved on to the Elite Eight under Bill Self and their first since 2012.
#4 Duke 68 #1 Oregon 82: Neutral fans are always happy when Duke gets knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, missing out on a third Elite Eight appearance in four years. Like the other #1 seed, Oregon struggled early but once they grabbed hold of the lead (led by 5 points at halftime), they never looked back, and ran away with the game in the second half, scoring 46 points. They were able to run the ball, unlike Duke who can’t win when they shot just 31.8% from the field, getting outscored 21-7 in transition and putting up their third worst offensive game of the season with 0.96 points per possession. Five Ducks players scored in double figures, led by Dillon Brooks with 22 points. Brandon Ingram scored 24 points, Grayson Allen had a more difficult time, finishing with 15 on 4-for-13 from the field.
#3 Miami 69 #2 Villanova 92: The blowout of the night, and in surprising fashion. The Wildcats presumably were supposed to take things slow, while Miami were predicted to have the perfect combination of athleticism and length to disrupt Villanova. A 12-7 run at the end of the first half changed the game for good, and in the second half Miami looked like they didn’t show up, giving up 49 points. Villanova scored 1.59 points per possession in the game, the highest offensive efficiency by any team in the last five NCAA Tournaments, shooting 62.7% from the field. Kris Jenkins and Ryan Arcidiacono each scored 21 points, as they made the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009.
#3 Texas A&M 63 #2 Oklahoma 77: Buddy Hield didn’t erupt, finishing with 17 points, but the Oklahoma offense was still too much for the Aggies. Jordan Woodard scored 22 points and three more players finished in double figures, as Oklahoma move on to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2009. A&M were held to 21.4% from beyond the arc as Oklahoma contested almost everything, helping the Sooners pull away early and get themselves a 19-point lead at halftime, making things very comfortable and relaxed in the second half.