Florida Gulf Coast University, in just its 16th year of existence and only its second year of NCAA tourney eligibility, carved another niche in college basketball history becoming the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen with an 81-71 win over San Diego State.
FGCU head coach Andy Enfield said the team’s goal was to make history. Check that off the list as Bernard Thompson poured in 23 points and leading scorer Sherwood Brown added 17. The Atlantic Sun champions advance to take on in-state opponent, Florida, in the round of 16.
The other big bracket buster, LaSalle, advanced also with a 76-74 win over 13th-seeded Mississippi. Tyrone Garland scored on a layup with just two seconds remaining to put the Explorers into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1955, the year LaSalle played for a national title. LaSalle, playing its third game in the past five days, got 24 points from Ramon Galloway. The Rebels finished the season 27-9, one win short of tying a school record.
Florida guard Mike Rosario hit six three-pointers and finished with 25 points to lead the Gators back to the regional semifinals with a 78-64 win over Minnesota. The Gators shot 80 percent in the first half but the Gophers managed to cut the lead to single digits in the final 10 minutes. Andre Hollins, who scored 25 points to lead 11th-seeded Minnesota, got into foul trouble though preventing the Gophers from mounting a comeback.
Trailing by nine at the half, seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Weleford took over for Kansas and the Jayhawks won big, 70-58, over North Carolina and former coach Roy Williams. Withey, a 7-footer, scored 16 points, had 16 rebounds and blocked five shots while Releford added 22 points as Kansas shot 60 percent from outside the paint in the second half.
The Big Ten fared well Sunday as both Indiana and Ohio State moved on with victories. Indiana trailed by four with 2:56 remaining in the game and closed the game with a 10-0 run to defeat Temple 58-52. Victor Oladipo, who led the Hoosiers with 16 points, hit a three-pointer with just 14 seconds left to allow Indiana coach Tom Crean to breathe a sigh of relief. The Hoosiers will face No. 4 seed Syracuse in the regional semifinals next weekend.
Ohio State also found itself in a dogfight as guard Aaron Craft hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc with a half second left to give the Buckeyes a 78-75 victory over Iowa State. Ohio State advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth straight season, a school record. Deshaun Thomas led OSU with 22 points. Korie Lucious had 19 for the Cyclones.
ACC Player of the Year Shane Larkin scored 17 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with a minute to go as Miami advanced to the round of 16 for only the second time in school history with a 63-59 win over Illinois. After Larkin’s three-pointer, Miami was awarded possession after the ball appeared to go off the hands of Miami’s Kenny Kadji out of bounds. The Hurricanes’ Durand Scott made two late free throws and the celebration began. Brandon Paul had 18 points for the Illini (23-13).
The final entry into the Sweet Sixteen is a familiar one as Duke advanced with a 66-50 win over seventh-seed Creighton. The Blue Devils got 21 points from Rasheed Sulaimon and 17 from Seth Curry to move to the regional semifinals for the 23rd time, the fourth in the last five years. Creighton star Doug McDermott had 21 points but had only four field goals.