Males’s Candy 16 Preview: Gonzaga vs. UCLA needs to be enjoyable; Princeton eyes one other upset


We’ve the top-ranked crew within the nation (and its controversial story), probably the greatest all-time coaches in March, everybody’s favorite ‘mid-major’ and a No. 15 seed within the males’s Candy 16.

All in all, arduous to complain a lot about who’s left in March Insanity — although from a Canadian perspective, it gained’t be fairly the identical with out possible NCAA participant of the yr Zach Edey and Purdue on the courtroom following the Boilermakers’ beautiful loss to little FDU within the opening spherical.

Let’s check out among the intriguing storylines because the street to the Last 4 in Houston continues.

Alabama’s Miller, Oats in highlight

The highest-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide made it by the primary two rounds with out main difficulties, although it was greater than a bit odd to see star Brandon Miller go scoreless of their opener.

Miller, after all, has been beneath intense scrutiny since police testimony got here out that he transported a gun that was utilized in a deadly capturing and was on the scene of the crime earlier this yr. Miller was not charged with any crime — two others have been charged with capital homicide — and Alabama didn’t droop him.

This week, various eyebrows have been raised when well-known Alabama soccer coach Nick Saban suspended extremely regarded freshman defensive again Tony Mitchell, who was arrested for marijuana possession and intent to promote/distribute.

In a press convention, Saban mentioned of Mitchell: “There’s no such factor as being within the improper place on the improper time.”

Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats used strikingly comparable phrases — merely saying Miller was in “the improper spot on the improper time” — when initially explaining what transpired along with his star participant. The previous College at Buffalo coach later apologized for his selection of phrases.

Saban, in the meantime, nonetheless confirmed his assist for the basketball crew on Wednesday.

All eyes will probably be on Miller and Oats when Alabama faces San Diego State in Louisville on Friday.

Izzo marches on

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is again within the Candy 16 for an astounding fifteenth time in 28 years.

This one was sudden along with his seventh-seeded crew upsetting No. 2 Marquette final week.

Izzo has a event file 16 wins when teaching a lower-seeded crew.

He’ll attempt to do it once more Thursday at Madison Sq. Backyard in opposition to a third-seeded Kansas State crew that was picked by many to complete on the backside of its convention this yr.

“Whenever you discuss to — for us, the Steve Smiths and Magic Johnsons — there’s nothing just like the mecca. There’s nothing like Madison Sq. Backyard,” Izzo mentioned.

The Wildcats, in the meantime, have probably the greatest tales within the event — switch standout Keyontae Johnson, who collapsed on the courtroom whereas taking part in for Florida in December 2020 and was in a coma for 3 days.

Wild west

The UCLA-Gonzaga battle in Las Vegas — internet hosting March Insanity video games for the primary time — on Thursday is among the marquee matchups.

Gonzaga has endlessly been the elite crew from exterior the Energy 5.

Led by the six-foot-10 Drew Timme (averaging 21.1 factors, 7.3 rebounds), the third-seeded Zags are within the Candy 16 for the eighth time in a row — greatest within the nation.

“The Candy 16 run of eight years and making it (24) years straight might be the factor I’m most proud about, what all our groups have been in a position to accomplish,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few mentioned. “It means we’ve stayed related. We haven’t dropped off. We haven’t taken a yr within the NIT or couple years within the NIT. We haven’t misplaced the primary spherical.

“And, once more, the fellows deserve all of the credit score for sustaining that form of profitable DNA and simply figuring it out.”

There’s nice historical past right here, too. In 2021, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs hit a 3 on the buzzer from simply inside half courtroom to beat UCLA in a nationwide semifinal.

And within the 2006 Candy 16, UCLA scored the ultimate 11 factors to edge Gonzaga and star participant Adam Morrison 73-71.

Gonzaga has the nation’s greatest offence. UCLA is sixth in defence. Nice matchup.

Fairly the weekend in Vegas, too, with Taylor Swift taking part in two sold-out concert events on the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium.

The underdog

For the second yr in a row, a No. 15 crew from New Jersey is within the Candy 16.

The Princeton Tigers are the Jersey upstarts this yr, following final yr’s historic run to the Elite Eight by the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.

After beating two Energy 5 faculties in Arizona and Missouri, Princeton faces one other shock squad in No. 6-seeded Creighton on Friday.

The Tigers are the primary Ivy League outfit since Cornell in 2010 to make it this far.


• Stable teaching matchup on Thursday in Las Vegas between Eric Musselman of Arkansas and Dan Hurley of UConn. Each males come from well-known teaching households.

Musselman, a former Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings coach, is trying to go to the Elite Eight for the third yr in a row with Arkansas.

Musselman made headlines final week when he took ripped off his shirt to have fun his crew’s win over top-seeded Kansas.

• It didn’t appear like a hometown Last 4 was in retailer for top-seeded Houston when the Cougars trailed by 10 at halftime within the second spherical final week in opposition to Auburn, however the favourites stormed again for an 81-64 win.

The Cougars did so with star Marcus Sasser battling a groin damage and level guard Jamal Shead coping with a knee damage.

It’s a troublesome street forward, although, with No. 5 Miami subsequent after which No. 2 Texas or No. 3 Xavier awaiting the winner in Kansas Metropolis.



No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Kansas State, 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT (New York)

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 4 UConn, 7:15 p.m. ET / 4:15 p.m. PT (Las Vegas)

No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 4 Tennessee, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT (New York)

No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA, 9:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. PT (Las Vegas)


No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Alabama, 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT (Louisville),

No. 5 Miami vs. No. 1 Houston, 7:15 p.m. ET / 4:15 p.m. PT (Kansas Metropolis)

No. 15 Princeton vs. No. 6 Creighton, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT (Louisville)

No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 2 Texas, 9:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. PT (Kansas Metropolis)

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