STILL PERFECT! NC State, North Carolina and Notre Dame Punch Their Tickets to the Sweet Sixteen!

NC State Upsets Top-Seeded Villanova, UNC Punches Past Arkansas; Notre Dame Outlasts Butler in Overtime. ACC is 9-0 midway through the Round of 32.

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#PackMadness: Pack Survives, Advances to Sweet 16

PITTSBURGH - The Wolfpack is on to the Sweet 16! NC State stifled No. 1 seed Villanova 71-68 to advance to the East Regional next weekend. It was NC State's first win over a a No. 1 seed since the Cardiac Pack beat two No. 1 seeds on the way to the national title.

Trevor Lacey led the Wolfpack with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman recorded double-doubles. Abu added 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Freeman finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Anthony 'Cat' Barber added 13 points.

Desmond Lee provided a spark in the first half, playing 11 minutes. The Pack ended the half on a 7-0 run. Darrun Hilliard fouled Caleb Martin on a 3-pointer, and the NC State forward sank the free throw for a 29-28 lead. Lacey buried a 3 off a turnover at the buzzer for a 32-28 lead at the break.

The Pack came out firing in the second half. Abu rocked the rim with a dunk for a 40-33 lead and the Wolfpack soon stretched that to 45-33. The Wildcats kept missing from every angle -- layups, mid-range jumpers, everything -- as their season started slipping away.

Ennis converted a three-point play and Phil Booth followed with a 3-pointer only to give one of them right back on Lacey's basket-and-free throw on the other end.

The Wolfpack found the open spaces Villanova could not, like when Freeman had an easy path to the glass for a putback that snuffed a small Nova rally.

Back-to-back threes from Hilliard with .40 seconds remaining cut the Pack's lead to 67-65, but Barber and Turner drained late free throws as the Pack held on to its advantage. A heave down the court was broken up as time expired.


Paige Leads UNC Past Arkansas Into Sweet 16

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Marcus Paige scored 22 points, including 20 in the second half, and North Carolina beat Arkansas 87-78 in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in three years.

Paige missed seven of eight shots in the first half, including all three from 3-point range, and was pretty much a non-factor as the Tar Heels let the Razorbacks keep things close.

But the junior guard took over in the second half, scoring 13 of his team's 17 points during a 5-minute stretch that helped North Carolina build a double-digit lead. The Tar Heels held on from there, thanks partly to Paige closing things out from the free-throw line and with his ball-handling skills.

UNC advanced to play either No. 1 seed Wisconsin or eighth-seeded Oregon in the West Regional next week in Los Angeles. It will be Carolina's 26th appearance in the Sweet 16.

Michael Qualls led Arkansas with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Bobby Portis finished with 18 points and 14 boards.

 

Irish Top Butler 67-64 in Overtime to Reach Sweet 16

PITTSBURGH (AP) Notre Dame coach Mike Brey guided the Irish to a thrilling 67-64 overtime win against Butler in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night after losing his mother to a heart attack at 84.

Betty Brey, an Olympic swimmer and one of Brey's biggest influences, passed away early Saturday in Florida. Brey admitted it still hadn't registered, but he felt her presence as the final seconds ticked down in the game.

Jerian Grant scored 16 points for Notre Dame, including the clinching layup with 18 seconds left, and the Irish (31-5) moved on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. They will play Kansas or Wichita State in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Thursday in Cleveland.

Steve Vasturia led Notre Dame with 20 points. Demetrius Jackson added 13 points, and Zach Auguste had seven points and 13 rebounds for the Irish, who beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 26 years.

Roosevelt Jones played through an injured left knee while scoring 23 points for Butler (23-11), but another NCAA run ended abruptly in the extra session.

The Bulldogs had two chances to win it in regulation. Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton slammed Dunham's shot from the corner into the ground and senior center Kameron Woods couldn't convert an out of bounds alley-oop at the buzzer.

The Irish never trailed in overtime. Connaughton snapped a 59-all tie with a 3-pointer from the right corner. The senior captain - who has delayed a lucrative baseball career for one last go-round at Notre Dame - then shook his head as he raced back down the floor and said ''They're not gonna stop us.''