MONEY Sports

Crazy Long Shot March Madness Bet Looks to Pay Off Big Time

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David Richard—AP Kentucky's Andrew Harrison is congratulated by Willie Cauley-Stein (15) during the second half of a college basketball game against West Virginia in the NCAA men's tournament regional semifinals.

Before the college basketball season started, at least 39 people placed a bet at a Nevada sportsbook with 50:1 odds. It's looking like quite a brilliant wager right about now.

The bet in question is that the University of Kentucky would go undefeated through the entire season and win the national championship in the NCAA March Madness tournament. After Kentucky completely dominated West Virginia in a 78-39 rout on Thursday night, the Wildcats stand at 37-0. All they need is three more wins and they’ll go down in history as the best college basketball team ever, or at least the one that had the best season ever.

There have been teams that have run the table in the past, with undefeated regular seasons followed by national championships. But it hasn’t happened in decades. The last squad to do so was Indiana in 1975-1976. Teams played fewer games back then—Indiana’s record was 32-0, including the tournament—so Kentucky has already won more games this year. The great John Wooden-coached UCLA Bruins teams of the 1960s and ’70s had four undefeated seasons and won an amazing 88 games in a row, but again, times have changed and teams play more games nowadays.

Because the season is so long, and because no team has gone undefeated in nearly four decades, gamblers were initially given long-shot odds that Kentucky could accomplish the feat in 2014-2015. Last summer, the William Hill sportsbook in Nevada began accepting bets that would pay off 50-to-1 if Kentucky won every game, including the tournament. According to ESPN, at least 39 people took those odds, including one $500 bet that will pay off to the tune of $25,000 if Kentucky wins its final three games.

Another gambler bet $2,550 on Kentucky to zip through this year with zero losses, but that wager was placed in September, when the odds had shrunk to 20:1. That bet will pay off $51,000 if Kentucky comes through.

Kentucky has had some close games this year, including back-to-back overtime games in January, against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. So it’s indeed possible that John Calipari’s super-talented squad could lose. But as NCAA March Madness entered the Sweet Sixteen this week, sportsbooks listed Kentucky as the overwhelming favorite, with 1:1 odds. Arizona was a distant second at 13:2, and all the other contenders were even bigger long shots. In other words, casinos have been practically begging gamblers to bet on any team other than Kentucky.

Yet even if Kentucky does run the table, there are those who will argue—fairly convincingly—that this year’s team is not the best ever. Not by a long shot. In fact, Vegas oddsmakers say that the 2014-15 Kentucky team would be the underdog in theoretical matchups against several notable college squads from the past, including the undefeated 1976 Indiana team, UNLV circa 1991 with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, and Greg Anthony, and even the 2012 Kentucky team that won the national championship and had six players drafted into the NBA—but that didn’t go undefeated for the entire season.

TIME College Basketball

Notre Dame Beats Wichita State for Spot in Elite Eight

Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks in the second half against Rashard Kelly #0 and Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Gregory Shamus—Getty Images Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks in the second half against Rashard Kelly #0 and Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

This marks the first time Notre Dame has reached the Elite Eight since 1979

The most intriguing matchup of the Sweet 16 didn’t live up to its billing. Notre Dame shot 56% from the field and 47% from three-point range Thursday in beating Wichita State, 81-70, to earn a spot in the Elite Eight.

While Wichita State didn’t get much offensive production from players not named VanVleet or Carter, it lost this game on the other end of the floor. Despite rating out as one of the better defensive teams remaining in the field, the Shockers simply could not slow down Notre Dame’s high-powered offense. To wit: the Irish rang up roughly 1.25 points per possession.

The first five minutes hinted at the outcome of the game. Notre Dame opened with a flourish, opening up a 13-point lead thanks to a trio of three-point shots from guards Demetrius Jackson and Pat Connaughton and two-point field goals from center Zach Auguste. The Irish’s third-ranked efficiency offense had ignited, and Wichita State seemingly had no means to stop it.

The Shockers quickly found their bearings and began narrowing Notre Dame’s deficit. After a layup from Auguste around the 15-minute mark, Wichita State ripped off a 9-2 run. Then Shockers guard Ron Baker drilled a three-point shot to slice the deficit to six and, about a minute later, hit another trey to make it a one-possession game.

Notre Dame weathered Wichita State’s charge, and a Connaughton jumper at the 3:40 mark put the Irish up by eight points. But the Shockers finished the half on a strong note, with guard Fred VanVleet scoring seven points over the final three and a half minutes.

VanVleet and forward Darius Carter helped the Shockers take their first lead (38-37) of the game early in the second half. After Notre Dame’s Jackson and Steve Vasturia scored a jump shot and a layup to give the Irish a five-point lead, Carter maneuvered inside for two two-point buckets and VanVleet knocked down a pair of free throws.

Notre Dame answered decisively. In the next two-plus minutes, the Irish showed why they boast the nation’s third most efficient offense. Jackson drained two threes and converted a layup, Vasturia buried a trey of his own, and guard Jerian Grant and forward Bonzie Colson finished layups. When the run ended, Notre Dame led by eight and seemed on track for a comfortable win.

Another offensive onslaught a few minutes later effectively sealed the game. Grant sank a three, Auguste connected on two two-point field goals, Vasturia and Connaughton also converted from downtown and Jackson made two free throws to put Notre Dame up 19.

This marks the first time Notre Dame has reached the Elite Eight since 1979. The Irish have now won 32 games this season, the second most in program history. Meanwhile, this is the fourth consecutive year Wichita State has reached the tournament, and the third consecutive year in which it has won at least one game.

As impressive as it was for Notre Dame to pull through against a Wichita State team that ranked among the nation’s top 20 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, don’t expect the Irish to advance to the Final Four. Barring a massive upset on Thursday night at the hands of No. 5 seed West Virginia, Kentucky will meet Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

The question of whether the Irish are a good or bad matchup for the Wildcats misses the point, because there is no team that matches up well against Kentucky.

It’s disappointing that Wichita State won’t get an opportunity to face the Wildcats. While the Shockers may not have been able to beat the Wildcats, anyone who watched the two teams play a thrilling game in the Round of 32 last season would have welcomed a rematch.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Basketball

North Carolina Coach Sends $200 Check to All of His Former Players in His Will

North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith during a news conference where he announced his retirement, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Oct. 9, 1997.
Bob Jordan—AP North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith during a news conference where he announced his retirement, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Oct. 9, 1997.

For a dinner out to remember

Late North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, who died last month, willed his trust to send $200 to each player who lettered under him, Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letter, confirmed to SI.com.

Smith died at 83 on Feb. 7 at his North Carolina home. He coached for 36 years at UNC, winning 879 games and two NCAA championships.

In the letter Smith’s former players received from Miller McNeish & Breedlove, PA, it was revealed that Smith requested each of his former players be sent a $200 check with the message, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” The enclosed checks also included the notation, “Dinner out.”

By SI‘s count, Smith coached 184 players from 1961 to 1997.

(H/t @ChestPassDemps)

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College Basketball

West Virginia Gets Cocky Before March Madness Game Against Undefeated Kentucky

Dayton v Oklahoma
Jamie Sabau—Getty Images Daxter Miles Jr. #4 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts after dunking the ball during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"They're going to be 36-1," a WVU freshman says

West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. made a bold prediction to the media on Wednesday when he guaranteed that his team would beat undefeated Kentucky in their sweet 16 matchup Thursday night.

“[I] salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1,” Miles declared out of either confidence or hubris.“They should be more intimidated. Because they’re the ones who have the high standard, and we’re coming for them.” He went on to say the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to pass the ball under the Mountaineers’ press.

West Virginia, a 5 seed , has just a 13% chance of snapping 1 seed Kentucky’s streak, according to Nate Silver’s predictions at FiveThirtyEight. And bettors have the Wildcats as a 13-point favorite over the Mountaineers.

Even West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was careful to hedge Miles’ claims. “I don’t know,” he said when asked if the press could stop Kentucky. “I hope so. It’s going to be a long day for us if we can’t.”

But who knows. With Miles’ conviction, March Madness could just get that mad. Kentucky and WVU play on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

[ESPN]

TIME College Basketball

This Map Shows Which Sweet 16 Teams Are Generating Buzz Around the Country

The most talked-about teams on Facebook
Facebook The most talked-about teams on Facebook.

Kentucky has coast-to-coast support

While you’ve been keeping close tabs on your office March Madness pool, Facebook has combed through more than 32 million posts, likes and comments about the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament to find out which Sweet Sixteen teams have captured the conversation (or your trash-talking) between March 15-23.

Much of the chatter is regional—it’s no surprise, for example, that Wichita State has every county in Kansas talking and typing—but Facebook’s color-coded visualization shows the extent of coast-to-coast support for Kentucky, which is currently favored to win.

Read More: Now That Your Bracket’s Busted, Here’s Who to Cheer for in the Sweet 16

TIME College Basketball

Now That Your Bracket’s Busted, Here’s Who to Cheer for in the Sweet 16

Pros and cons for each team

So your bracket’s already busted, and you don’t have any chance of winning your office pool. Maybe you’re going to take your chances betting on single games or maybe you just need to pick a new team to cheer for this week. Either way, TIME’s got you covered. Here are all the reasons to root for (or against) all 16 teams that made it to the regionals.

  • Kentucky (#1)

    NCAA Tournament: Cincinnati vs. Kentucky
    Lexington Herald-Leader—TNS via Getty Images Kentucky's Andrew Harrison (5) drives in for the basket and a foul as the Wildcats defeated Cincinnati, 64-51, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. (Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)

    Pros: Let’s face it, if you pick Kentucky to win, you’ll probably be right. The team is well on its way to going undefeated. Some talking heads are even suggesting that the roster could make the Eastern Conference playoffs in the NBA. If Kentucky succeeds, they will become the first team since Bobby Knight’s 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to have a perfect season.

    Cons: There’s a reason you root for Jack against the Giant. A perfect record is impressive, but it’s less fun than an upset. Plus rooting for John Calipari? That’s a tough proposition for most basketball fans.

    Kentucky (#1) plays West Virginia (#5) on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • West Virginia (#8)

    West Virginia v Maryland
    Jamie Sabau—Getty Images Jevon Carter #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers controls the ball against the Maryland Terrapins during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

    Pros: West Virginia has had a big turnaround season after missing the tournament two years in a row. They’re scrappy: they play full court D for all 40 minutes, scramble in and out of traps and force turnovers. And don’t forget: they stole an Elite Eight game from a seemingly unbeatable Kentucky team in 2010.

    Cons: If WVU doesn’t get turnovers, they’re not scoring. If they’re not scoring, they’re just another stepping stone on Kentucky’s road to the championship.

    West Virginia (#5) plays Kentucky (#1) on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • Notre Dame (#3)

    Butler v Notre Dame
    Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Demetrius Jackson #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates a turnover against the Butler Bulldogs in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    Pros: Going into the tournament, they were criticized as a team that didn’t hustle enough. But now they’ve proven that they can get scrappy. In their first two games they went only 8-for-26 beyond the arc and were forced to pull off tough wins (one in overtime). Before the tournament, they beat Duke, UNC and Louisville—all Sweet 16 teams. Maybe they’re capable of more than pundits thought.

    Cons: Wichita is anything but your average 7 seed, and most bettors have them beating Notre Dame. The luck of the Irish may run out this week.

    Notre Dame (#3) plays Wichita State (#7) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

  • Wichita State (#7)

    Fred VanVleet of the Wichita State Shockers celebrates as the second half ends against the Kansas Jayhawks during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 22, 2015.
    Jamie Squire–Getty Images Fred VanVleet of the Wichita State Shockers celebrates as the second half ends against the Kansas Jayhawks during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 22, 2015.

    Pros: Beating Kansas was a sweet victory for Wichita State. The Shockers have tried to schedule a game against in-state rival the Jayhawks for years (the last time they played one another was 1993), but Kansas has always refused. And no wonder, considering Wichita’s 78-65 victory on Sunday. Full of confidence, Wichita State will likely roll past Notre Dame and on to the Wildcats. Kentucky ended the Shockers’ perfect season in 2014, and Wichita is probably ready to return the favor.

    Cons: The Shockeres are heavily dependent on their star Fred VanVleet. If he has a bad night, Wichita is in trouble. Plus, the team was extra-motivated to knock Kansas out of the tournament. They could lose steam.

    Wichita State (#7) plays Notre Dame (#3) on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

  • Wisconsin (#1)

    Frank Kaminsky of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 20, 2015.
    Ronald Martinez–Getty Images Frank Kaminsky of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the second half during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. on March 20, 2015.

    Pros: Wisconsin’s victory against Oregon proved that they don’t just rely on their star player. When Frank Kaminsky got shut down for parts of the game, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes took over, pushing the Badgers to a victory. Wisconsin has one of (if not the most) efficient offense in the country and is an odds-on favorites to make it to the Final Four.

    Cons: The Badgers arguably have the toughest road of the remaining 1 seeds to the Final Four. UNC coach Roy Williams is a veteran who knows how to effectively stop all-stars like Kaminsky. And even if they do beat the Tar Heels, an under-seeded Arizona will be waiting for them.

    Wisconsin (#1) plays UNC (#4) on Thursday at 7:47 p.m. EST.

  • UNC (#4)

    during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Kevin C. Cox—2015 Getty Images Marcus Paige #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels puts up a shot as he is defended by Manuale Watkins #21 of the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.

    Pros: UNC has the athleticism to be a great team, even if they haven’t played to their full potential yet. They’ve been playing better defense during the tournament, and against Arkansas, Marcus Paige finally played the way he should have been during the regular season. If UNC can beat Wisconsin, it will be on the glass—they rank fifth nationally for offensive rebounds.

    Cons: The Tarheels have been, to put it kindly, inconsistent in high-pressure games this year. They turn over the ball too much. It’s hard to imagine they can beat both Wisconsin and Arizona.

    UNC (#4) plays Wisconsin (#1) on Thursday at 7:47 p.m. EST.

  • Xavier (#6)

    Xavier v Georgia State
    Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images Myles Davis #15 of the Xavier Musketeers reacts to a three-point basket against the Georgia State Panthers in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 21, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    Pros: Don’t underrate Xavier, the last Big East team in the tournament. Matt Stainbrook is a quality big man who could shake up the game against Arizona. And the team has been gaining steam throughout the end of their season.

    Cons: Xavier had an easy road to the Sweet 16. They’re not a very good shooting team, and if anybody can shut down Stainbrook, it’s a bigger squad like Arizona. Plus, Xavier ended Georgia State’s Cinderella run, and we’re all still a little bitter.

    Xavier (#6) plays Arizona (#2) on Thursday at 10:17 p.m. EST.

  • Arizona (#2)

    T.J. McConnell of the Arizona Wildcats and D'Angelo Russell of the Ohio State Buckeyes vie for a loose ball in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on March 21, 2015.
    Jonathan Ferrey–Getty Images T.J. McConnell of the Arizona Wildcats and D'Angelo Russell of the Ohio State Buckeyes vie for a loose ball in the second half during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on March 21, 2015.

    Pros: Arizona should have been a 1 seed, and they won’t let you forget it. They’re in the top 10 in the nation in both defensive and offensive efficiency (just like Kentucky), and wings Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will likely both be first-round NBA draft picks. Plus, their defense is excellent.

    Cons: Occasionally, Arizona can go long stretches without scoring and they don’t have the depth to save them during a drought.

    Arizona (#2) plays Xavier (#6) on Thursday at 10:17 p.m. EST.

  • North Carolina State (#8)

    NC State v Villanova
    Justin K. Aller—Getty Images Anthony Barber #12 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives to the basket against Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Pros: If you want to root for a giantkiller, the Wolfpack is your team. They pulled off the biggest upset of this tournament by knocking out No. 1 Villanova and took down fellow Sweet 16 teams UNC and Duke earlier this year. Trevor Lacey and Anthony Barber had a combined 30 points against Nova. It’s hard not to root for the duo to pull that off again.

    Cons: Even though the N.C. State has Vegas worried about potential future upsets, the 8 seed is in danger of becoming overly confident. (See: Cat Barber’s “What the f— is wrong with Barack Obama?” comment.) Even if they beat Louisville, they’ll eventually meet Duke or Gonzaga, and those teams are going to be harder to take down than Villanova.

    N.C. State (#8) plays Louisville (#4) on Friday at 7:37 p.m. EST.

  • Louisville (#4)

    Northern Iowa v Louisville
    Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images Terry Rozier #0 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball in the first half of the game against the Northern Iowa Panthers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.

    Pros: Louisville prepared for the tournament with a tough ACC slate (five of the sweet 16 teams are from the ACC). This is the fourth year in a row that the Cardinals have made it to the Sweet 16, and though this isn’t their best team in recent memory, they’ve refused to give up. Their tough defense will be a challenge for N.C. State.

    Cons: Coach Rick Pitino has been brutally honest about the team’s flaws, admitting that conflicting personalities have made them hard to coach. Their starting point guard Chris Jones was dismissed from the team late in the season, and they’ve had a hard time recovering since—including struggling against UC Irvine in the opening game of the tournament. Louisville was bested by N.C. State (74-65) in February, so despite its higher seeding Louisville is probably the underdog headed into this game.

    Louisville (#4) plays N.C. State (#8) on Friday at 7:37 p.m. EST.

  • Oklahoma (#3)

    Jamie Sabau—2015 Getty Images Buddy Hield #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners controls the ball against the Dayton Flyers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

    Pros: If Big 12 player of the year Buddy Hield produces this week, Oklahoma could take the East Region, which blew wide open with No. 1 Villanova and No.2 UVA both fell. Oklahoma is the top seed left and therefore, in theory, the best bet.

    Cons: Michigan State’s physical defense could mean big trouble for the Sooners. MSU Coach Tom Izzo’s favorite month is March, so this will likely be a very tight game.

    Oklahoma (#3) plays MSU (#7) on Friday at 10:07 p.m. EST.

  • Michigan State (#7)

    during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    Bob Leverone—2015 Getty Images Travis Trice #20 of the Michigan State Spartans drives to the basket against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Pros: Remember last year when 7 seed UConn won the national championship? It looks like Michigan State just might follow in their footsteps. Coach Tom Izzo’s teams historically play their best in March, and this Spartans squad is no exception. They almost defeated Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference Championship and upset 2 seed Virginia last week. Plus, they’ve got the support of alumnus Magic Johnson. What’s more inspirational than that?

    Cons: Even though the Spartans are now favored to reach the Final Four, their path isn’t completely clear. N.C. State, Louisville and Oklahoma are all gunning for the same spot and will put up a tough fight.

    MSU (#7) plays Oklahoma (#3) on Friday at 10:07 p.m. EST.

  • Duke (#1)

    Duke vs. San Diego State
    Raleigh News & Observer—TNS via Getty Images Duke center Jahlil Okafor (15) blocks a second half shot by San Diego State forward Winston Shepard (13) on Sunday, March 22, 2015, at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

    Pros: I know, I know. Duke is the (blue) devil incarnate. You hate Coach K. You hate the Cameron Crazies. You hate that the I Hate Christian Laettner 30 for 30 documentary somehow made Laettner likable and got him in commercials with Dr. J. But even though Christian Laettner did this, remember when he also did this—the most memorable buzzer beater in all college basketball history? Duke (and Laettner) ruined UNLV’s perfect season. Could they do the same for Kentucky? With a likely #1 NBA draft pick in the dominant Jahlil Okafor, they just might.

    Cons: Okafor has had trouble hitting free throws all season. If Duke fails to maker threes (as it did when Notre Dame upset it in the ACC Tournament), the Blue Devils could lose a close game at the free throw line.

    Duke (#1) plays Utah (#5) on Friday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • Utah (#5)

    Brandon Taylor of the Utah Utes reacts in the second half against the Georgetown Hoyas during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. March 21, 2015.
    Stephen Dunn–Getty Images Brandon Taylor of the Utah Utes reacts in the second half against the Georgetown Hoyas during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center in Portland, Ore. March 21, 2015.

    Pros: The Utes’ 7 foot center Jakob Poeltl is one of few players in the tournament who can measure up size-wise to Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Utah plays good help defense and may be able to shut down the Blue Devil’s big man.

    Cons: Utah is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 and likely won’t be prepared to take down a 1 seed.

    Utah (#5) plays Duke (#1) on Friday at 9:45 p.m. EST.

  • UCLA (#11)

    Bryce Alford of the UCLA Bruins runs down the court against the UAB Blazers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky. on March 21, 2015.
    Joe Robbins–Getty Images Bryce Alford of the UCLA Bruins runs down the court against the UAB Blazers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Ky. on March 21, 2015.

    Pros: A vote for UCLA is a vote for the underdog. Widely dubbed the team that shouldn’t have even made the tournament, UCLA has been playing like they have something to prove. Now they’re the only double-digit seed left in the bracket. UCLA won their first two games sinking threes, and if they can continue that trend, they’ll prove that they came to dance.

    Cons: Then again, if those threes don’t fall, the Bruins are in big trouble. The big criticism of UCLA is that they play as individuals, not a team. If they don’t come together, their run it over.

    UCLA (#11) plays Gonzaga (#2) on Friday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

  • Gonzaga (#2)

    Iowa v Gonzaga
    Otto Greule Jr—Getty Images Kyle Wiltjer #33 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after a three point shot in the first half of the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington

    Pros: This is arguably the best team that Coach Mark Few has put together—including the 2013 1 seed squad. The Zags’ impressive 52.6 field goal percentage means that they’re going to be hard to stop offensively, and their bench is deep. They won easily on Sunday against Iowa, and the elimination of Iowa State makes their path all the easier.

    Cons: Gonzaga has a history of choking in the tournament. They were knocked out early in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2013, they were upset as a 3 seed by Wichita State. And of their last eight tournaments, they’re 0-8 against top-four seeds, so their prospects against 1 seed Duke down the road do not look good.

    Gonzaga (#2) plays UCLA (#11) on Friday at 7:15 p.m. EST.

TIME College Basketball

Notre Dame Coach Says Mother Died on Morning of Butler Win

Butler v Notre Dame
Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Head coach Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh.

Mike Brey called the game "a tribute to her"

In his press conference following Notre Dame’s 67-64 overtime win over Butler in the Round of 32 on Saturday, Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey revealed that his mother died of a heart attack the morning of the game.

Betty Brey was 84. The Notre Dame coach said he felt that “she was definitely with us down the stretch” and called the game against the Bulldogs “a tribute to her.”

A distinguished swimmer, Betty Brey was a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team. More from Notre Dame’s official website:

[Brey’s] father Paul was a high school athletics director in Maryland, while his mother, the former Betty Mullen, was the women’s swim coach at George Washington, and perhaps the family’s most accomplished athlete. She attended Purdue University and swam for the AAU team in West Lafayette while attending school. For a time, she held the world record in the butterfly events and competed with the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She is a member of the Indiana Swimming Hall of Fame located in Indianapolis.

His mother also was a Purdue majorette and was present in Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 7, 1950, when the 19th-ranked Boilermakers upset the top-ranked Irish 27-14 in football.

Brey said he’ll travel to Florida on Sunday to celebrate his mother’s life with his family and watch the Kansas-Wichita State game together.

The Irish will play the winner of that game in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Cleveland.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Basketball

N.C. State Stuns No. 1 Villanova to Advance to Sweet 16

NC State v Villanova
Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Desmond Lee #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack celebrates after making a shot and getting fouled with teammate Beejay Anya #21 during the second half against the Villanova Wildcats on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh.

N.C. State stuns Villanova 71-68 to advance to Sweet 16

(PITTSBURGH) — The rims seemed tight. So did Villanova.

The Wildcats missed so many shots — gimme layups, uncontested jumpers, airballed 3s — that it was no surprise the first thing to fall was their Final Four target.

No wonder it came to this: The ‘Cats were the first to go from a top seed to No. 1-and-done.

North Carolina State, a program that authored one of the early chapters on March shockers, can add another stunner to the list: The Wolfpack are back in the Sweet 16.

“We came out today with the feeling that everybody expected us to lose to a one seed,” said forward BeeJay Anya, “but we believe in ourselves and that we’re good enough to beat anybody in the country and we went down and did it.”

N.C. State attacked one of the top teams in the nation for 40 minutes, playing with a chest-thumping swagger that helped them stun Villanova 71-68 on Saturday night.

N.C. State guards Cat Barber and Desmond Lee shared a long embrace after the buzzer as their teammates danced around the court in celebration.

Barber turned to Lee, pounded his chest and yelled, “all heart!”

No, this wasn’t quite as meaningful as Jim Valvano’s mad dash looking for somebody — anybody — to hug after the Wolfpack won the 1983 national championship. But the Wolfpack (22-13) have designs on their own big March run and will move on to Syracuse, New York to play the winner of the Louisville-Northern Iowa game.

Lacey led them with 17 points, Barber had 13 and Malik-Adbul Abu had 13 points, 12 rebounds and absolutely destroyed the Wildcats inside.

The Wildcats (33-3) saw a 16-game winning streak end and have not reached the second weekend since 2009.

The Wildcats come up empty after storming their way to pair of Big East titles and a 41-point victory in the NCAA Tournament opener.

“I know we have to answer to the fact that we did not get to the second weekend again,” coach Jay Wright said. “We have to own that. But it’s not going to define us within our program. It’s going to define us outside of our program and we accept that.”

Dylan Ennis was nearly inconsolable, his arms crossed over his head in disbelief. Ennis missed a 3-pointer after an N.C. State turnover with 20 seconds left that would have put the Wildcats ahead.

Darrun Hilliard scored 27 points and gamely rallied the Wildcats in the final minutes. He hit 3-pointers that brought them to within four, within two with 41.1 seconds left and 69-68 with 1.2 seconds left.

Ralston Turner sealed the win with free throws and N.C. State was back in the Sweet 16 for only the third time since 1989 (2012, 2005). They hadn’t defeated a top seed since that memorable night in 1983 when they upset Houston.

Yet for the all the Wolfpack did right to keep the ‘Cats on their heels, they never went on that decisive run that would have ended a comeback threat. Barber lost the ball and N.C. State’s ninth turnover led to Josh Hart’s three-point play with 3:51 left.

The Wolfpack didn’t have to win with authority, though — they just had to win.

Desmond Lee’s three-point play stretched the lead back to seven and put them minutes away from the signature win under coach Mark Gottfried. Wins over Duke, North Carolina and Louisville in ACC play let them know they could knock off the elite.

“We respect Villanova, but we’ve seen good teams,” Gottfried said. “We’ve seen a lot of them in our conference. You see them about every night. So a league like that prepares you for games like tonight.”

Gottfried also has a knack for pulling off March upsets — he led eighth-seeded Alabama to a win over No. 1 Stanford in the second round of the 2004 tournament.

The Wildcats have one more March failure to tack on the list. They shot a season-high 63 percent in the tournament opener against Lafayette. Against the Wolfpack, they fired ‘em early in the shot clock, got stuffed at the rim and twice airballed 3-point attempts.

These were the top-seeded Big East champs?

In the first half, the Wildcats missed a whopping 20 of 28 field goals. Hart, the Big East tournament MVP, played just 4 minutes after he was whistled for two fast fouls.

“I don’t think missing those layups or those easy baskets really fazed us, it was just our decision making in taking them,” Hilliard said.

TIP-INS:

NC State: The Wolfpack did not attempt a free throw until there was 2:27 left in the first half. … N.C. State held a 45-32 edge on the boards. … The Wolfpack missed 8 of 11 3-pointers.

Villanova: The Wildcats shot 31 percent (19 of 61). … The Wildcats have not won more than one game in the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

BALANCING ACT:

The Wolfpack had four players reach double-digit scoring and two of them had double-doubles. JayVaughn Pinkston scored 13 and was the only other Wildcat to crack double digits. Four players averaged double digits in the regular season.

UP NEXT:

NC State: Will play the winner of Louisville-Northern Iowa game in the Sweet 16.

Villanova: Season finished.

TIME College Basketball

It’s the First Day of March Madness and Everyone’s Brackets Are Already Busted

during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournamenat at the KFC YUM! Center on March 19, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andy Lyons—2015 Getty Images William Lee #34 of the UAB Blazers reacts after a play against the Iowa State Cyclones during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournamenat

#14 UAB beat #3 Iowa State for the first upset of the tournament

In just two games and four hours, a major upset has already ruined most bettors’ chances of achieving a perfect bracket in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), 14 seed, knocked off 3 seed Iowa State in a nail-biter. The final score was 60-59.

The upset went down to the final seconds of the game and came just minutes after another 3 seed, Notre Dame, barely held onto its lead against Northeastern.

The UAB Blazers are the youngest team in the tournament, and none of their players have ever made it to the dance before. They’ll play the winner of the SMU-UCLA game on Saturday.

Only 5.1% of ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets had UAB over Iowa State. Iowa State was the most popular 3 seed, with 16.3% of people predicting they would make the Final Four.

Update: Another 14 seed, Georgia St., knocked off 3 seed Baylor Thursday afternoon. The game, again, came down to a last-second three point shot to give Georgia State the win, 57-56.

Only 0.7% of the 11.57 million ESPN brackets entered are still perfect. Welcome to March Madness.

TIME College Basketball

Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim Announces Retirement

Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange at the game against the Virginia Cavaliers in Syracuse, N.Y. on March 2, 2015.
Rich Barnes—Getty Images Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange at the game against the Virginia Cavaliers in Syracuse, N.Y. on March 2, 2015.

The 70-year-old Boeheim has taken Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA title and four Final Fours

Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim will retire in three years, the school announced.

In 39 seasons at the school, Boeheim has taken his teams to 31 NCAA tournaments, and won 11 regular season conference championships and five conference tournament titles. Syracuse won the 2003 NCAA title and has been to four Final Fours under Boeheim.

As Syracuse coach, the 70-year-old Boeheim has compiled a record of 966-333​, though he will have 108 of his 966 victories vacated following an eight-year investigation by the NCAA​. The investigation found that the athletic program was complacent in academic misconduct, improper benefits and turning a blind eye to the school’s drug policy. As part of the school’s punishment, Boeheim was suspended for nine conference games next year.​

Last week, Boeheim seemed to address his future at a banquet for the program. “I came here in 1962,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

He was also an assistant on the 2008 and 2012 Olympic USA Basketball teams, both of which won gold medals.

The news comes the same day that it was reported that Syracuse and athletic director Daryl Gross are expected to part ways.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

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