They name the NCAA Match The Huge Dance, however cautious when you dance.
Gamers from No. 1 general seed Gonzaga apparently began boogeying just a little too early Thursday night time earlier than enjoying No. 4 seed and 9.5-point underdog Arkansas on the Chase Middle in San Francisco.
And the Razorbacks (28-8) are those nonetheless dancing after a 74-68 victory. They advance to the NCAA West Regional championship sport on Saturday (8:49 p.m. jap, TBS) in opposition to No. 2 seed Duke (31-6). The Blue Devils beat No. 3 seed Texas Tech, 78-73, Thursday night time. The winner steps to the Ultimate 4 on the Superdome in New Orleans, April 2-4.
“We felt like they had been dancing earlier than the sport,” Arkansas sophomore ahead Jaylin Williams mentioned. “That was a disrespect to us. We got here into the sport enjoying laborious and had a chip on our shoulder.”
Arkansas was picked to complete third within the SEC behind Kentucky and Alabama again in October regardless of being the final SEC group standing after the primary weekend of the 2021 NCAA Match and reaching the Elite Eight. The Hogs misplaced to eventual nationwide champion Baylor. No. 2 seed Kentucky and No. 6 seed Alabama each misplaced within the first spherical of this event.
Some had been dancing on Arkansas’ grave final January when the Hogs began off 0-3 within the SEC with losses at Mississippi State, 81-68, at dwelling to Vanderbilt, 75-74, and at Texas A&M, 86-81. None of these made the NCAA Match and completed tenth, eleventh and tied for fifth within the league, respectively. The Razorbacks regrouped, beat No. 1 Auburn and completed fourth within the SEC at 13-5, however then misplaced to the Aggies once more of their SEC Match opener, 82-64.
Arkansas beat a No. 1 seed within the NCAA Match for the primary time in its historical past after 10 losses since seeding started in 1979 and have become the primary group anyplace to beat a No. 1 group within the common season (Auburn) and a No. 1 group within the NCAA Match (Gonzaga).
“I believe we’ve been disrespected the entire 12 months,” Williams mentioned after scoring 15 factors with 12 rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. He additionally broke the report for rebounds in a season of 349 set by Derek Hood in 1998-99 and has 354 on the season.
“They (prognosticators) gave them an 86 p.c probability to win,” Williams mentioned. “We noticed that, and all the things they had been saying.”
Duke is a four-point favorite to win Saturday by FanDuel, offered the Blue Devils don’t dance round earlier than the sport.
“God bless them. What an awesome group these youngsters,” gushed Mike Krzyzewski after his group’s win. He introduced final summer season that this his forty second season as Duke’s coach can be his final.
“They’ve grown up a lot within the final 12 days. It’s such a pleasure. It’s an incredible factor,” he mentioned.
Arkansas final performed Duke on April 4, 1994, within the nationwide championship sport in Charlotte, N.C., and received, 76-72, for its solely nationwide championship. Duke beat Arkansas, 97-83, on March 31, 1990, within the Ultimate 4 nationwide semifinals in Denver earlier than falling to UNLV, 103-73, within the nationwide title sport.
Krzyzewski, 75, received 5 nationwide championships since that loss from 1991-2015 and will probably be teaching for his thirteenth Ultimate 4.
Musselman, 57, is in his second straight Elite Eight in his third season at Arkansas after taking Nevada to 3 NCAA Tournaments and a Candy 16 in 2018. He made positive his gamers knew few, if any, had been giving his probability a group to beat Gonzaga and can possible do the identical for Duke.
“There’s been not a lot speak about Arkansas,” Musselman mentioned.
“Yeah, simply being the underdog, man, and utilizing it to your benefit. They by no means see you coming,” mentioned Arkansas ahead Trey Wade, who scored 15 factors with seven rebounds and a blocked shot and steal.
“I can’t praise these guys sufficient and the complete group for the way in which that they purchase in to sport preparation,” Musselman mentioned. “It’s most likely the good factor I’ve ever been part of that they simply sort of do what we ask.”
After which they danced.
“We received the water bottles, went loopy,” Williams mentioned. “We began dancing. It’s enjoyable to win.”