HomeSportsKansas is the 6th straight men's defending champion to leave early

Kansas is the 6th straight men’s defending champion to leave early

It’s tough for a defending champion in the men’s NCAA tournament.

Arkansas’ 72-71 victory over Kansas set up a remarkable streak for the reigning national title winners. The Jayhawks are now the sixth straight national title winner to be eliminated on the first weekend of the following year’s NCAA Tournament.

The final defending champion to advance to the second weekend of the tournament is Duke in 2016. The Blue Devils were a No. 4 seed that season, beating No. 13 UNC Wilmington and No. 12 Yale before losing to No. 1 Oregon in the Sweet 16. Since then, tournament performance for defending champions has gone as follows:

  • Villa Nova 2017: Lost in the second round to No. 8 Wisconsin as the No. 1 seed.

  • 2018 North Carolina: Lost in the second round to No. 7 Texas A&M as the No. 2 seed.

  • Villa Nova 2019: Lost in the second round to No. 3 Purdue as the No. 6 seed.

  • Virginia 2021: Lost in the first round to No. 13 Ohio as the No. 4 seed.

  • Baylor 2022: Lost in the second round to No. 8 North Carolina as the No. 1 seed.

  • Kansas 2023: Lost in the second round to No. 8 Arkansas as the No. 1 seed.

Kansas held off Arkansas over the course of the first half before the Razorbacks’ chaotic style began to bring the Jayhawks real offense. The foul-filled game featured 23 fouls, as four players fouled and four others finished with four fouls.

The foul fest made it fitting that the game was decided at the free throw line. Arkansas’ Ricky Council IV made five free throws in the last 24 seconds and four in a row on a key offensive rebound after a missed free throw.

Kansas has won a national title and three second-round NCAA tournament wins in the past five seasons. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

If Kansas were to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, it would be with a team barely resembling the one that pulled out the nets in 2022. Jalen Wilson averaged 20 points per game this season as Kansas’ leading scorer after averaging 11 a season ago. With players like Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun in the NBA, freshman Gradey Dick and Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar played big roles and big man KJ Adams went from five minutes a game a season ago to 27 minutes a game this year.

That renewed team was really good. Kansas won the regular season Big 12 title again, but showed a number of shortcomings that were exposed twice by Texas in the space of eight days. A talented but underperforming Arkansas was also a poor game for the Jayhawks, as the Hogs put up a good run all over the field against Kansas and put pressure on the Jayhawks in the second half.

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Here’s what else you need to know to keep up with everything that happened on the third day of the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments.

Princeton continues the run for No. 15 seeds

Princeton became the third No. 15 seed in as many years to advance to the Sweet 16 with a 78-63 victory over Missouri.

The Ivy League champions absolutely dominated Missouri on the glass and were 15 times faster than the Tigers. Princeton also made 12 3-pointers when it shot over Missouri’s zone defense in the second half. A Missouri team that relies on turnovers and outside shooting didn’t force Princeton into rushed possessions and shot poorly from 3.

Four No. 15 seeds have made it to the Sweet 16 in men’s NCAA tournament history, and they’ve all made it in the last decade. Florida Gulf Coast was the first in 2013 for Oral Roberts in 2021 and St. Peter’s in 2022.

The Peacocks were the first No. 15 to make the Elite Eight when they defeated Purdue a season ago. And it’s not hard to see how Princeton could do the same if they continue to rebound as they did against both Arizona and Missouri.

Louisville avoids a third 12-over-5 upset

Louisville narrowly escaped the third No. 5 seed falling to a No. 12 seed in the women’s NCAA tournament.

The Cardinals defeated Drake 83–81 after a fourth-quarter career tally of 54 combined points. Louisville won the game on a slick inbound play with 20 seconds remaining as Hailey Van Lith converted an en-1 to give the Cardinals a 4-point lead.

Van Lith scored 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field while Mykasa Robinson added 14.

Earlier in the day, Florida defeated Gulf Coast Pac-12 Tournament Champion Washington State 74-63 as Sha Carter scored 24 points and grabbed six rebounds. The Eagles’ upset came just before Toledo beat Iowa State 80-73. The Rockets pulled out of Iowa State in the second quarter and held off the Cyclones in the second half thanks to phenomenal free throws.

Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith (10) is hugged by teammate Mykasa Robinson after their victory over Drake in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith (10) is hugged by teammate Mykasa Robinson after their victory over Drake in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Austin, Texas, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A day of great comebacks

Double-digit leads weren’t as secure as usual on Saturday in the women’s NCAA tournament.

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No. 9 Miami came from trailing 17 points at halftime to beat No. 8 Oklahoma State 62-61. The Cowgirls had a shot at the buzzer to win on a five-second foul in Miami, but it bounced harmless off the edge.

Hours later, in the Seattle Regional 3, No. 7 Baylor erased Alabama’s 18-point lead in the second quarter to win 78–74.

Baylor trailed 22–4 at the end of the first quarter before cutting the lead to 11 at halftime. The Bears then dominated the fourth quarter, taking the lead with 3:30 to go on a 3-pointer by Sarah Andrews. Alabama scored six consecutive points to retake the lead before Baylor scored seven consecutive points in the final 53 seconds to clinch the win.

Miami’s comeback tied for fifth in women’s NCAA tournament history before Baylor’s comeback jumped to a tie for third.

We can’t forget about Ohio State either. The No. 3 Buckeyes trailed No. 14 James Madison 35–19 with 4:01 left in the second quarter before coming back in the second half to outscore the Dukes by 30 points the rest of the way. Ohio State defeated JMU 80-66 as Cotie McMahon had 18 points and Jacy Sheldon had 17.

UCLA stops Northwestern

No. 2 UCLA held off Northwestern’s upset effort in a 68-63 victory over the Wildcats.

The Bruins shot 50% from the field as Northwestern never led after leading 3–0 to start the game. Tyger Campbell was a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line and Jaime Jaquez scored 24 points for the Bruins.

However, there is some concern for UCLA. The Bruins got Adem Bona back into the starting lineup on Saturday, but guard David Singleton looked like he had seriously twisted his right ankle in the last minute as he entered the court. Singleton was helped by the court after writhing in pain, although he was able to put weight on his leg.

“He didn’t break his ankle, which I was afraid of,” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said of the injury.

A Singleton absence from the Sweet 16 and a potential Elite Eight matchup would be huge for a UCLA team without Jaylen Clark due to a lower leg injury.

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Maddy Siegrist dominates

Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist went into the first round on Saturday against Cleveland State as the nation’s leading scorer with 29 points per game. She easily topped that average by 35 points in Villanova’s 76-59 win.

Siegrist leads the nation in field goals scored and is second in field goal attempts per game. She was 15 of 28 from the field as no other Wildcat had more than 10 shots.

Villanova made sure to make a statement early and beat Cleveland State 42-21 in the first half. The margin was 29 at the end of the third quarter, but Siegrist ended up playing almost four minutes.

The win sets up a matchup with Florida Gulf Coast in the second round on Monday.

Maddy Siegrist (20) scored 35 points in Villanova's win over Cleveland State.  (Photo by Eric Hartline/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Maddy Siegrist (20) scored 35 points in Villanova’s victory over Cleveland State. (Photo by Eric Hartline/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Rick Barnes looking for first Elite Eight since 2008

Rick Barnes is in his 36th season as the head coach of college basketball at the highest level. His teams have won 778 games in those 36 seasons and he has coached 20 teams in 23 of those 36 seasons.

Still, Barnes never had much success in the NCAA tournament. His teams have been consistently bad against the spread in the postseason and have only made one Final Four. That came in 2003, when Texas reached the national semifinals.

And Barnes’ most recent Elite Eight appearance came five years later with the Longhorns in 2008. Since then, Texas and Tennessee teams coached by Barnes have made nine NCAA tournament appearances. But none of those teams have won three games in all those appearances.

Tennessee has a strong chance of winning three games in 2023 after beating Duke 65-52. The Vols got 27 points from Olivier Nkamhoua and easily defeated the Blue Devils on the glass. And thanks to Purdue’s disappointing loss to Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday, Tennessee will have to beat the Knights of Florida Atlantic next Thursday for a shot at Barnes’ second Final Four.

Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes calls a play against Louisiana during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 16, 2023, in Orlando, Fla.  (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Teams coached by Rick Barnes have not been to an Elite Eight since 2008. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Furman can’t move on to Sweet 16

Furman’s NCAA tournament run ended in its first weekend.

The No. 13 Paladins stunned Virginia on Thursday, but were dominated by No. 5 San Diego State in the first game of the day on Saturday. The Aztecs won 75-52 as their stifling defense allowed Furman to shoot just 32% from the field.

JP Pegues made the winning shot against Virginia and was only 3-of-15 from the field against San Diego State. The Aztecs had four players in double digits and shot 23 of 38 from the arc.

San Diego State broke Mountain West’s losing streak in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday and is now in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.

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