The ACC went 1-for-2 in Elite Eight qualification bids on Thursday, with North Carolina falling to Wisconsin but Notre Dame dominating Wichita State. On Friday the league is guaranteed with North Carolina State facing Louisville in an East Region semifinal. The Wolfpack beat Louisville 74-65 on Feb. 14, and that was just the beginning of Cat Barber hitting his stride.
Meanwhile South No. 1 seed Duke faces South No. 5 Utah in what might be the night’s best matchup. The teams are more evenly matched than many know, and it might come down to which backcourt has the better shooting night. The Blue Devils are feeling good about that aspect of their game with Quinn Cook continuing to have a senior season that few predicted.
- NOTRE DAME’S CHANCES: The Fighting Irish played by far their best game of the tournament on Thursday night, which is perfectly timed for nearly two days of speculation on whether Notre Dame has the offensive punch to upset Kentucky. West Virginia certainly didn’t, as these stats attest.
Kentucky proved on Thursday that words will never hurt them. Fortunately for Notre Dame, it has more than words to trade on. And these words explain how Notre Dame can beat the Wildcats.
- UNINTENTIONAL STARS: Friday presents yet another opportunity for Wisconsin and its remaining tournament brethren to return to the podium and talk about their performances, their opponents’ performances and perhaps extreme spelling. These daily briefings have turned the NCAA-contracted stenographers into nominal celebrities. And obvious good sports.
On the other hand, Top-seeded Wisconsin hangs on to beat North Carolina, 79-72. Sam Dekker scored a career-high 23 points, Frank Kaminsky added 19 and top-seeded Wisconsin rallied in the final 10 minutes to hold off North Carolina 79-72 Thursday night and advance to the final eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Zak Showalter came off the bench to score six points in the Badgers’ 19-7 comeback run that sent them into the West Regional final Saturday against either No. 2 seed Arizona or sixth-seeded Xavier.
Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson scored 15 points each for the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (26-12), who got within one with 4:21 remaining but couldn’t retake the lead they owned for much of the second half.
Check out the following betting odds for this evening’s games:
UCLA +8.5 o -110
Gonzaga -8.5 u -110
North Carolina State +2.5 o -110
Louisville -2.5 u -110
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