Half of the Final Four is set with the Wisconsin Badgers and Florida Gators advancing with victories on Saturday in the West and South regions, respectively.
Wisconsin, a No. 2 seed, will face Sunday’s winner of Kentucky vs. Michigan, while Florida, who finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the nation, will take on the winner of Michigan State vs. UConn.
The Badgers were able to edge the No. 1 seed Arizona Wildcats in an overtime thriller at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., 64-63. Both teams failed to establish a sizable lead in the second half, which included multiple lead changes in the final seven minutes. The final statistics were indicative of the tightness of the matchup, with both teams shooting 39 percent from the field, and with Wisconsin committing eight turnovers and Arizona seven.
Center Frank Kaminsky came up big for Bo Ryan’s squad. The seven-foot junior poured in 28 points, including six in overtime, and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kaminsky has been a key figure for the Badgers in the tournament, with three straight performances of 19 points or more.
"We want a national championship now," Kaminsky said. "We have made it to the opportunity to get there, so why not go get it?"
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A pivotal call occurred in the finals seconds of overtime, with the Badgers leading by one point. Arizona guard Nick Johnson penetrated to the lane against Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser, with considerable contact. Johnson was whistled for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to Wisconsin.
After the game, Arizona head coach Sean Miller would not offer a thorough response to the foul, claiming “it was a really, really tough call.”
"I'm going to stop there,” he said. “I've already been fined."
It was a disappointing game for Miller, as well as for his brother, Archie, who coaches Dayton. The No. 11 seed Flyers were eliminated by No. 1 seed Florida to end their improbable tournament run.
Florida outrebounded Dayton, 37-26, and received another big scoring game from guard Scottie Wilbekin, in a solid victory for the Gators at FedExForum in Memphis, 62-52.
Wilbekin scored 23 points by converting six of his 14 shots from the field and by going 8-10 from the free-throw line. The senior also added three assists and three steals. Wilbekin had previously scored 21 against Pittsburgh in the Round of 32, and then hit some difficult and crucial shots against UCLA in the Sweet 16.
Billy Donovan’s squad led by as many as 18 points, and limited Dayton to just 24 second-half points. The Flyers trimmed the deficit to eight points with 3:55 remaining, but Florida’s defense would deny Dayton from scoring until the final 20 seconds and with the game clearly in hand.
It was a difficult loss for heavy-underdog Dayton, who played spoiler in three tournament wins. The Flyers edged Ohio State, Syracuse, and Stanford in their road to the Elite Eight.
"It's always hard to lose the last game of the season, but in the back of my mind, I'm not sure a team in the nation captured more people's hearts than these guys did, and they did it the right way," Archie Miller said.
Dayton was led by Dyshawn Pierre’s 18 points on 7-11 shooting and added five assists, while Devin Oliver added 12 points and six rebounds.