Just like the night before, on Friday four teams advanced to be a single win away from a trip to Indy and the Final Four, while four other teams had their seasons ended. Luckily for fans, no team was completely run out of the gym on Friday like West Virginia was against Kentucky the previous night. However, in the South Region in Houston, Gonzaga did put a bit of a beating on UCLA with a 74-62 victory. Over in Syracuse, Louisville moved to the East Region final with a win over ACC-rival NC State, 75-65. Final two games of the night were the closest contests, including the B1G's own Michigan State Spartans taking on the Oklahoma Sooners.
Game of the Night:
#7 Michigan State vs. #3 Oklahoma
Just over five minutes into the game, Oklahoma had taken a ten-point lead and it was looking like Sparty might not have the scoring ability to keep up with the Sooners. However, MSU turned up the defensive intensity and by halftime they had cut the lead to four, and stolen the momentum away from OU. The Spartans made a game of it in the second half, and with 6:41 to go Matt Costello dunked to give his team their first lead of the game. Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine made a couple of threes to stretch the lead, and then the question became: "Can this team that has struggle from the line all season hold on?" They could, as Trice and Valentine combined to hit 6-6 free throws in the final two minutes and deliver a 62-58 win to their team.
Senior guard Travis Trice led his team yet again, with a game-high 24 points. Trice has been incredible in March, and has really put this team on his back after being benched earlier in the season. His teammate Valentine scored 18 points and grabbed 7 boards, while Branden Dawson tallied 6 and 11 respectively. The Sooners got 21 points and 6 rebounds out of Bahamian Buddy Hield, who will now likely have to deal with bragging from countryman 'Tum Tum' Nairn. TaShawn Thomas had 16 and 7 for OU as well. The Spartans will now face Louisville on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Non-B1G Game of the Night: #5 Utah vs. #1 Duke
This game got off to a slow start for both teams, the score was a paltry 3-2 with nearly six minutes gone. Then the action ratcheted up and Duke pulled away, leading 27-22 at the half. The Utes stayed within striking distance throughout the second half, but ultimately fell 63-57. Utah star Delon Wright struggled with foul trouble and poor shooting throughout the game, scoring just 10 points. Instead, teammate Brandon Taylor led the Utes with 15 points. For Duke, Justice Winslow had a huge game with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyus Jones added 15 points. The Blue Devils will now face Gonzaga in the regional final on Sunday, one of two 1-seed versus 2-seed games in the Elite Eight (Wisconsin-Arizona).