PHILADELPHIA (AP) — North Carolina crushed all hope of a March Madness miracle in the early going Sunday, getting 20 points and 22 rebounds from Armando Bacot in a wire-to-wire 69-49 runaway over 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s.
The eighth-seeded Tar Heels (28-9) made their record 21st Final Four, and next on their list is none other than archrival Duke and its soon-to-be-retiring coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
Next Saturday in New Orleans will mark the first Final Four meeting — first NCAA Tournament meeting, in fact — between the Tobacco Road archrivals whose campuses are separated by 11 miles.
Two nights earlier, Saint Peter’s (21-12) beat Purdue to become the first 15 seed to advance to an Elite Eight. But the underdog Peacocks are hardly the first team to see grand plans undone by one of the country’s top-line power programs.
After Carolina’s Leaky Black missed a free throw 2 1/2 minutes in, Bacot edged in for the offensive rebound and an easy putback. It gave Carolina a 7-0 lead. In its three tournament wins over Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue, Saint Peter’s had never trailed by more than six.
Late in the first half, Daryl Banks III’s attempted jam was rejected by the front of the rim. It made the Peacocks 5 for 27 on the night, and when Bacot dunked on the next possession, North Carolina led 36-15.
Fousseyni Drame led Saint Peter’s with 12 points and KC Ndefo had 10.
KANSAS 76, MIAMI 50
CHICAGO (AP) — Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack and Christian Braun powered a dazzling second half for Kansas, and the top-seeded Jayhawks pounded Miami to advance to the program’s 16th Final Four.
Agbaji scored 18 points, McCormack had 15 and Braun finished with 12, helping Kansas rally after a lackluster start. The Jayhawks trailed by six points at halftime but outscored Miami 47-15 in the final 20 minutes.
Kansas (32-6), the only No. 1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament, won the Midwest for the 13th time with its ninth consecutive victory overall. Next up is the national semifinals and a matchup with Villanova on Saturday in New Orleans.
It’s the fourth Final Four for coach Bill Self in his 19 seasons at Kansas. The last time the Jayhawks made it to the semis, they lost 95-79 to coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats in 2018.
Kameron McGusty scored 18 points and Isaiah Wong had 15 for No. 10 seed Miami in the program’s first appearance in the Elite Eight. The Hurricanes (26-11) were bidding to get coach Jim Larrañaga back to the Final Four for the first time since he led 11th-seeded George Mason there in 2006.
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