March Madness 2023 winners and losers: Kansas wins with Self on the shelf, Virginia sent home early again

When Princeton beat UNLV 69-57 in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament, a player named Mitch Henderson scored 19 points and dished out six assists for the Tigers. Nearly 25 years to the day, the Tigers finally won another game in the Big Dance as No. 15 seed Princeton turned in the best March Madness story Thursday with a stunning 59-55 loss to No. 2 seed Arizona.

Princeton’s coach today? Mitch Henderson. Now 47 and a Princeton basketball institution, Henderson beat one of the sport’s rising stars on the opposite line for Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd as Princeton held the Wildcats to a season-low in points and made 3-pointers. The result marked the third consecutive season in which a The No. 15 seed defeated a No. 2 seed.

“We ran into a good team today that made the right plays at the right time,” Lloyd said. “We couldn’t get enough separation from them when we had opportunities. That’s what happens when you get stuck in a basketball game. They made a lot of plays in the middle and we didn’t. I’ll give it a tip. They’re a tough team to play against. I knew it was going to be a tough one game. I know the program has a lot of pride. They’re well coached, they have great fundamentals. It showed today.”

The Princeton-Arizona matchup was just one of 16 games Thursday as the first round of the NCAA Tournament kicked off with twists, chaos and plenty of moments that will be featured in the “One Shining Moment” montage once a champion is crowned on April 3.

Here’s the full rundown of all the winners and losers from the day.

Losers: Virginia’s NCAA Tournament woes continue

No. 4 Virginia’s stunning 68-67 loss to Furman was made all the more confusing by a late turnover that led to Furman’s 3-pointer by JP Pegues with 2.2 seconds left. Fifth-year senior point guard Kihei Clark made a fumble while trapped in the corner with less than 10 seconds left that set up the Paladins’ basket. Clark was a key piece on UVa’s 2019 national title team and has been a fixture for the Cavaliers for half a decade. But as he leaves, he will do so with some painful memories to go along with the glory of 2019’s triumph.

The loss dropped Virginia’s record against double-digit seeds to just 3-4 in its last seven chances, a streak that includes the program’s historic 2018 loss to No. 16 UMBC and marked the fourth time in its last five NCAA appearances Virginia Tournament. has lost to a number of 13 or worse.

Winner: Furman makes history

Before Thursday, the last time Furman won a game in the NCAA Tournament was 1975 in a season where the event featured only 25 teams. The Paladins hadn’t even played in the Big Dance since 1980 before booking a spot in this year’s field with a win over Chattanooga in the SoCon Tournament title game. Just getting to the field marked a historic achievement for the program, but becoming the first Furman team in nearly 50 years to win an NCAA Tournament game secures this team’s place in college lore, especially because of how it happened. JP Pegues’ shot to put the Paladins ahead with 2.2 seconds left will go down as one of highlights of the Big Dance, no matter what happens from here on out. “I was born for those moments,” he said.

Loser: Arizona stumbles as top seed (again)

The Wildcats became the 11th team in NCAA Tournament history to fall to a No. 2 seed on Thursday as the 15th-seeded Tigers stunned No. 2 Arizona 59-55 as Arizona became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to lose twice in the first round as a No. 2 seed. Princeton trailed for most of the game, but locked down defensively to race ahead in the end. Arizona failed to score for nearly five minutes of play to close out the game, opening the door for Princeton – who passed right – to take the lead with two minutes remaining.

Winner: Maryland Strikes Back (Again)

No. 8 seed Maryland sat at 12-7 on Jan. 22, and it looked like Kevin Willard’s first season as the program’s coach might be destined for the NIT. But the Terps have shown a tendency to flock with their backs against the wall this season, and they did so again during a 67-65 win over No. 9 West Virginia. After going 19-6 early and rallying for a 32-30 halftime lead, Maryland fell behind again in the second half by eight points just one more time. As Willard explained to Tracy Wolfson at halftime, that’s just the way it goes with these Terrapins.

Loser: Utah State goes cold at the wrong time

No. 10 Utah State entered Thursday’s action ranked 22nd nationally in 3-pointers per game at 9.4 and fifth in 3-point percentage at 39.3 percent. The Aggies picked the wrong time to go cold in a 76-65 loss to No. 7 Missouri. The Tigers limited USU to just 4 of 24 shooting from beyond the arc, which translated to 16.7 percent for the long-ball-based team. tied Utah’s season low for three-pointers and doomed its chances of advancing beyond the first round for the first time since 2001.

Winner: Kansas selfless advances

Playing without head coach Bill Self, who continues to recover from the health issue that forced him to miss last week’s Big 12 Tournament, No. All five KU players reached double figures as the Jayhawks collected 22 assists. Howard stayed tough for the first 15 minutes, tying the game at 33 with 5:27 left in the first half. But it was all Jayhawks from there. As for Self, his status for Saturday’s second-round game remains undetermined.

“I feel a lot better. I have more energy. I’ve been with the team all week on a limited basis,” Self said in a video posted to KU’s Twitter account. “I’m there every day, I do a lot of sitting in training. I’ve never done that. I feel better, but still I’m not ready to coach the game.”

Loser: The distractions continue for Alabama

No. 1 overall seed Alabama took care of No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 96-75, advancing to play No. 8 Maryland on Saturday. But the start of the NCAA tournament provided some additional distraction off the court after the New York Times reported that a fourth Alabama player, Kai Spears, was present at the scene of a fatal shooting in January that led to manslaughter charges against former . player Darius Miles. Alabama, Spears and Spears’ father, Marshall athletic director Christian Spears, have vehemently denied the report, saying it is inaccurate. The saga is just the latest twin in a grim scandal that won’t go away as the Crimson Tide tries to reach a Final Four for the first time in program history.

As for on-court stories, coach Nate Oats’ postgame revelation that freshman starter Brandon Miller is dealing with a hamstring problem adds some stress to Saturday’s matchup with No. 8 Maryland.

Winner: Mountain West drought ends

Finally, the Mountain West finally won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2018. If you’re new to college basketball, “Mountain West” isn’t the name of a university in Utah. It’s the name of a conference that consistently ranks among the best mid-major leagues in the country. But you wouldn’t know it from the conference’s collective performance in March over the past several years. The league teams had reeled off 11 streaks in the tournament before No. 5 San Diego State finally snapped the streak with a 63-57 win over No. 12 Charleston on Thursday. With the win, the Aztecs are in a good position to dance in the Sweet 16 as they face No. 13 seed Furman on Saturday.

As for the rest of the league? Well, there are still some warts, as evidenced by Nevada’s loss to Arizona State in the First Four, Utah State’s 11-point loss to Missouri and Boise State’s loss to Northwestern. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Winner: Duke continues to surge with dominant win

It was just two years ago that Oral Roberts stunned No. 2 Ohio State as No. 15 and advanced to the Sweet 16. This season, the Golden Eagles entered the Big Dance as the only team in the nation to go undefeated through the conference play a conference tournament. As a result, ORU was the No. 12 seed and a modern upset option against the young Blue Devils. But despite relying heavily on five freshmen making their NCAA Tournament debut, Duke had no trouble with Oral Roberts in a 74-51 victory. Duke jumped out to an early 15-0 lead and held ORU scoreless for over eight minutes to start the game. This team has won 10 straight games now and looks like a threat to get out of the Eastern Conference.

No. 15 seed Colgate was a modern dark horse choice after giving Arkansas a good fight two seasons ago and Wisconsin a game last season – both as a No. 14. But No. 2 Texas, the put to bed right away in the first round game with a dominating 81-61 victory in which it only narrowly lost early in the game. The Longhorns held Colgate — the No. 1 team in 3-point shooting percentage — to just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc in an impressive showing on both sides of the ball. A No. 2 seed eventually lost again this year – No. 2 seed Arizona fell to No. 15 Princeton – but Texas proved it didn’t want to make that piece of history part of its portfolio.

Loser: Shaky Illinois’ season ends in fitting fashion

Early-season wins over Texas and UCLA have cemented Illinois all year as a potential sleeping giant come tournament time, and there’s always been a mystery about this team’s ceiling given its sometimes great play. guard, but the dreams of Illini fans died quickly in a first-round exit at No. 8 seed Arkansas. Illinois struggled to make shots in an almost unremarkable offensive outing, failing to shut down an Arkansas team that similarly struggled to score. And so Illinois’ season ends in the most appropriate fashion: with the ups and downs that show that potential that flashed but ultimately faded.

“Every time we made a run, we missed a layup, we turned it over, we missed free throws,” Illini coach Brad Underwood said. “The one thing we struggled to do all year was get going. I think we got the first three possessions and didn’t run anything. … When you’re playing that fast uphill in the NCAA tournament, it’s a challenge.”

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