The field of 68 has been trimmed by two more, we now know half of the Final Four following two very entertaining games. The Wisconsin Badgers needed overtime to knock of the Arizona Wildcats last season, and still only came away with a one-point win. Saturday's game wasn't quite as dramatic, but was still a great game between two great teams. In the second game of the night, Kentucky needed a bit of their own luck to knock off the Fighting Irish. With one game featuring a B1G team and one not, both are automatically their respective games of the night so the full headings seem a bit unnecessary.
#1 Wisconsin vs. #2 Arizona
Wisconsin came out the gate with a strong effort and five minutes into the game the Badgers were already leading 10-2, but the Wildcats are not an easy team to beat and they came back quickly. By forcing the ball inside, the Wildcats were able to make a run and take the lead while getting Frank Kaminsky in a bit of foul trouble before halftime. Down by three at the start of the second, Wisconsin was again able to get the jump to start the half. The Badgers unleashed a barrage of threes and a despite a good game on offense Arizona was never able to catch up, falling 85-78.
Wisconsin hit 66.7% percent from behind the arc for the game, led by Sam Dekker who hit 5-6 from deep and ended the game with 27 points. Teammate Frank Kaminsky led all scorers with 29, including 10-12 from the charity stripe. Arizona was led by Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who both scored 17 points. Kaleb Tarczewski played a solid game against Kaminsky in a losing effort, scoring 11 points along the way. Wisconsin will now face Kentucky in the Final Four on Saturday.
#1 Kentucky vs. #3 Notre Dame
In what may have been the most entertaining game ever decided by a pair of free throws, Notre Dame nearly knocked off undefeated Kentucky. After being tied at 31 at halftime, ND came out and withstand a quick start by the Wildcats before taking control of the game for most of the second half. However, you have to beat Kentucky, you can't just wait for them to lose. UK came back strong and tied the game as the Irish started to falter right at the end. Tied 66-66 with a minute to go, Notre Dame failed to get a good look at ended up with a shot clock violation. On the following play, Aaron Harrison drove the bucket with six seconds left and Demetrius Jackson was called for the blocking foul. Harrison hit both free throws, and the best shot Jerian Grant and the Irish could get off was an off-balance three from the corner that missed everything. Thereby, handing the Wildcats a 68-66 victory and a trip to Indy to face Wisconsin.
UK got a heck of a game from Karl-Anthony Towns who shot 10-13 from the field and 5-6 from the line en route to 25 points. The only other Wildcat in double-figures was Devin Booker with 10. Notre Dame got 20 points from Zach Auguste, but the junior only played 27 minutes while struggling with foul trouble. Grant had 15 despite a poor shooting night, and Steve Vasturia added 16 points himself. It was a tight game, but Kentucky marches on, one game closer to perfection.