The stark contrast between opponents in a 48-hour turnaround is more glaring than any senior guard Grayson Allen can remember this season, but the regularity with which Duke reset itself for multiple games in few days (during a December-January span and again in the crux of the ACC season before the conference tournament) make the team confident they'll be ready for the guard-driven shooting team.
For the third year in a row, Kansas made it through the Sweet 16 - although not before Clemson tried its hardest to add another wild chapter to an already unbelievable tournament. Even though Kansas doesn't have a ton of size, the guards were able to find some room to crash the boards and it paid huge dividends.
I sat courtside in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, to cover Kansas' last NCAA tournament loss: an ousting against OR in last season's Elite Eight. And with what it represented - giving Graham and Mykhailuk an opportunity to play in their first Final Four after narrow misses the past couple of season. At the defensive end of the court, they have been above average this year as they enter this contest ranked 142nd in the nation in points allowed, giving up 71.0 ppg, while also ranking 74th in defensive FG% (42.3%) and 77th in 3-point defense (33.0%). Esa Ahmad contributed 11 and Teddy Allen had 10. He's been playing at an extremely high level and he did that especially in the second half. The Jayhawks took the largest lead at that point at 44-39. The Blue Devils are third in the nation in assists and eighth in scoring offense, so they are more than accustomed to getting their share of points. Jalen Brunson was phenomenal in sparking the run against West Virginia. Villanova has scored a tournament-high 258 points in three games, including 120 points on 3-pointers alone. Went back left. Their big stepped in to help. It's the freshmen big men who figure to create the most buzz in National Basketball Association circles, with Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. both likely lottery picks.
Now the Jayhawks will try to get through the Elite Eight for the first time since they won the 2012 national title.
The Blue Devils are the second-seeded team in the Midwest Region, Kansas weighs in as the top overall seed in the region. Meanwhile, Allen was quick to shoot the 3 in the second half. Duke has won 111 tournament games, with just 36 losses.
Duke leads Kansas 64-62 after Gary Trent Jr. hits a 3-pointer with about six minutes left. Texas Tech helped Villanova reach the bonus early and the Wildcats made the most of it, going 14 of 19 from the free-throw line.
The Orange hung right with Duke the entire way, keeping the game close even as the Blue Devils never trailed in the second half. De Sousa had six points and six rebounds in six minutes as the two big men combined for 16 points and nine rebounds in the half.
Texas Tech trailed by as many as seven points in the first half. Sure, you had large contingents who made the lengthy trips to watch Villanova, West Virginia, Purdue and Texas Tech play for a spot in the Elite 8.
Back down five following another mini-run by the Jayhawks, the Blue Devils pulled back to within a single point with 6:34 remaining.
Wendell Carter Jr. couldn't have played worse in the first 30 minutes of this game.
The Blue Devils did just that, time and time again, until they had the lead in the final minute.
Duke also did what is expected of a tourney favorite, outlasting Syracuse thanks in part to its decided talent advantage.
The Red Raiders opened their tournament play with a 70-60 victory over No. 14 Stephen F. Austin and then beat No. 6 Florida 69-66 in the second round.