Fifth-seeded San Diego State puts the clamps on the Paladins, while Indiana is the fourth No. 1 seed to advance easily in the women’s tournament.
March 18, 2023Updated 3:22 p.m. ET
There is an implicit but unspoken deal between underdogs and the month of March: Most dreams come with rapid expiration dates. And two days after the biggest victory in school history, No. 13 seed Furman’s sell-by date arrived with a 75-52 rout at the hands of fifth-seeded San Diego State.
Where the Paladins were able to exploit Virginia’s weaknesses in a 68-67 upset on Thursday, they were overwhelmed by the Aztecs in almost every aspect of Saturday’s game. Known for its strong defense, San Diego State held Furman, which had averaged 81.7 points this season before the loss, to its lowest single-game total of 2022-23.
Furman shot just 32 percent from the field (while the Aztecs hit 50 percent of their shots) and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. For the season, Furman had shot 48 percent overall and 34 percent from 3-point territory.
Furman never led after the midpoint of the first half, and Jalen Slawson, the Southern Conference player of the year, was in foul trouble for much of the second half before fouling out with only 8 points.
“They kept us from driving, kept the ball out of the paint, kept a really strong floor and played really hard,” Slawson said.
It was a complete and impressive performance by the Aztecs, who move on to their first round-of-16 appearance since 2014, where they will play the winner of Alabama and Maryland on Friday. And it brought the end of the line to the Paladins.
“It’s an unbelievable story,” Furman Coach Bob Richey said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, at a time where I’m extremely disappointed that we didn’t advance.
”But it’s really hard to not pull the lens back a little bit and still see what that group was able to accomplish. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.” — Scott Miller
It may be even harder now to beat a women’s No. 1 seed.
Indiana’s rout of Tennessee Tech put all four No. 1s in the N.C.A.A. women’s tournament into the second round, and perhaps highlighted a reality that has shifted in recent years:
Though a 16-over-1 March Madness upset is exceedingly rare — it’s probably even harder to pull off in the women’s tournament right now than in the men’s.
One night after the Fairleigh Dickinson men delivered the stunner of these festivities over No. 1 seed Purdue, the Indiana women romped past Tennessee Tech by 30 points, 77-47, joining fellow No. 1s South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Stanford in the second round. All four of those teams, playing with home-court advantage, won with ease to start their tournament run, with Virginia Tech winning by the tightest margin at 25 points over Chattanooga.
On Saturday, the Hoosiers pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring Tennessee Tech 21-9 in the period, and shot a breezy 58 percent for the game as their lead grew and grew. Sydney Parrish led with 19 points.
The men’s tournament had gone without a No. 16 defeating a No. 1 before 2018, but it has now happened twice in the past five tournaments. A similar upset has only occurred once in the women’s tournament since it expanded to 64 teams, when No. 16 seed Harvard beat top-seeded Stanford in 1998.
In that game, Harvard came in feeling like it deserved a higher seed, while Stanford lost two key players, Vanessa Nygaard and Kristin Folkl, to severe knee injuries in the week leading up to the game.
To beat a No. 1 women’s team playing at home, or even a No. 2 — which has never lost to a No. 15 — it may take a similar series of circumstances. — Oskar Garcia
Matchups to Watch
No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 15 Princeton
6:10 p.m., TNT
Princeton on Thursday became the 11th No. 15 seed to knock off a No. 2-seeded team, and the first since all the way back in … 2022, when St. Peter’s stunned Kentucky. The Tigers shot just 4 for 25 from 3-point range and attempted only five free throws, but they scored the final 9 points of the game to secure the upset of Arizona. In the round of 32, they’ll face the Tigers of Missouri, who easily dispatched No. 10 Utah State. Missouri displayed a stifling defense and won the turnover margin.
No. 2 U.C.L.A. vs. No. 7 Northwestern
8:40 p.m., TNT
Northwestern on Thursday won the second tournament game in program history, 75-67, against Boise State. Boo Buie tallied 22 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the Wildcats. U.C.L.A. beat U.N.C.-Asheville, 86-53, in the first round. The Bruins had injury concerns going into the game: Guard Jaylen Clark is out for the tournament with an Achilles’ tendon injury and the big man Adem Bona is still nursing a shoulder injury. Bona was available for the game but didn’t play.
No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 Alabama
5:30 p.m., ESPN2
Baylor had a streaky end to its season: Starting on Jan. 28, the Bears won three, lost four, won another three and then lost two. But Baylor is playing in its 19th consecutive N.C.A.A. tournament, having won it all in 2005, 2012 and 2019. Alabama went 19-10 on the season and finished fifth in the SEC, though the Crimson Tide lost their final four games. This game could come down to the performances of the two first-team all-conference guards on the floor: Baylor’s Sarah Andrews and Alabama’s Brittany Davis.
No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 11 Middle Tennessee
7 p.m., ESPN News
Colorado (23-8) finished third in the Pac-12 and is headed to its second straight N.C.A.A. tournament after missing out since 2013. Middle Tennessee ended the season on a 10-game winning streak, including the three games of the Conference USA tournament. M.T.S.U. was ranked No. 25 in the final Associated Press poll but received only a No. 11 seed in the tournament, so they were a popular pick to pull an upset: 32 percent of public brackets on ESPN chose the Lady Raiders, and The Athletic gave them a 45.4 percent chance to win the matchup.
No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 East Carolina
10 p.m., ESPN
Texas started the season ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, but the Longhorns lost three of their first five games while their star point guard, Rori Harmon, was out with a foot injury. Texas rebounded to tie with Oklahoma for the Big 12 regular-season title. East Carolina is playing in just its third N.C.A.A. tournament, the most recent in 2007, when it was also seeded at No. 13. The Pirates earned their spot by winning the American Athletic Conference tournament.