2023 NCAA Tournament
For the first time ever the Elite Eight does not feature a one seed. If the first two rounds of the 2023 NCAA Tournament had a little too much chalk, then the Sweet 16 made up for it. The first day of the Elite Eight featured the three-seed Kansas State Wildcats vs. the nine-seed FAU Owls and the three-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. the four-seed UConn Huskies. Four teams with four different stories on how they got there.
3 Seed Kansas State Wildcats Vs. 9 Seed FAU Owls
Markquis Nowell has moved from a Kansas State darling to an NCAA Tournament darling this year. His record-breaking game in the Sweet 16 will be talked about for years to come. Nine seeds making it this far isn’t unusual anymore, but the FAU Owls were excited to be in the Elite Eight for the first time ever. The two teams had to feel each other out in the first half, but a spot in the Final Four was on the line. FAU took a 42-38 lead into the halftime locker rooms after a back-and-forth first half. Nowell was on pace for a special game, but his team was trailing and at risk of heading home.
The second half featured a quick but effective pace for the Kansas State Wildcats who tied the game and then went on a run to take the lead. FAU looked lost on the court but refused to go away. Slowly they chipped back into the game and it was clear this game would be a classic. Kansas State would have two players foul out in the final minutes including star big man Keyontae Johnson and backup big man David N’Guessan. FAU would also have Bryan Greenlee foul out to close the game. Despite the late game heroics from Nowell who finished with 30 points and 12 assists, FAU would lock down on the final possession and win the game 79-76.
FAU is headed to the FINAL FOUR!!! #MarchMadness
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) March 26, 2023
Alijah Martin led the Owls in scoring with 17 points in the game. Big man Vladislav Goldin recorded a double-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks. The FAU Owls will play in Houston in the 2023 NCAA Tournament Final Four. They will play the winner between the five-seeded San Deigo State Aztecs and the six-seeded Creighton Bluejays.
3 Seed Gonzaga Bulldogs Vs. 4 Seed UConn Huskies
The Gonzaga Bulldogs and the UConn Huskies are very different programs. While the Huskies have reached the mountaintop four times, the Bulldogs have been spurned on multiple occasions. Going into the game the key matchup highlight would be down low between Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and UConn’s Adama Sanogo. Both Head Coaches Dan Hurley and Mark Few are hoping to with their first National Championship this year, but the trip to Houston will not come easy. The first half was sloppy for both teams, but with Timme in foul trouble late in the second half with two fouls, UConn closed out the first half and took a 39-32 lead into halftime.
Coming into the second half Gonzaga would continue to look sloppy and with 17:39 left to play, Drew Timme would pick up his fourth foul. The Huskies would wrench control of the game firmly into their hands and just never let go. Gonzaga looked unorganized on both ends of the court and just never got back into the game. UConn won the game 82-54 and will advance to the 2023 NCAA Tournament Final Four in Houston. Jordan Hawkins led the way for the Huskies with 20 points, six rebounds, and one assist. They will play the winner between the two-seeded Texas Longhorns and the five-seeded Miami Hurricanes.