LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wisconsin looked like a beaten team for much of the game.
Frank Kaminsky got off to a slow start, his team couldn’t make a shot in the first half and then fell behind by seven midway through the second half.
It looked like a repeat of the Big Ten Conference title game, when the Badgers were left for road kill against Michigan State before coming back to win in overtime.
The top-seeded Badgers again proved their grit, rallying in the final 10 minutes to hold off North Carolina 79-72 Thursday night and advance to the final eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Sam Dekker had a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, Kaminsky added 19 and Nigel Hayes 12 to send Wisconsin (34-3) into the West Regional final Saturday against No. 2 seed Arizona, which beat sixth-seeded Xavier 68-60. Wisconsin beat Arizona in overtime last season in the Elite Eight.
West Virginia 39
CLEVELAND (AP) — Perfect and pulverizing. Kentucky made West Virginia’s press look pathetic.
Trey Lyles scored 14 points, Andrew Harrison added 13 and the unbeaten Wildcats, chasing history and a ninth national title, rolled to a 78-39 victory over the Mountaineers on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
The tourney’s top seed and an overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets next month in Indianapolis, Kentucky (37-0) advanced to Saturday’s regional final to play third-seeded Notre Dame, an 81-70 winner over Wichita State in the other semifinal.
Arizona 68, Xavier 60
LOS ANGELES (AP) — T.J. McConnell scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, freshman Stanley Johnson added 12 points, and second-seeded Arizona made a dominant late rally for a 68-60 victory over sixth-seeded Xavier in the West Regional semifinals on Thursday night.
Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points and 12 rebounds as the Wildcats (34-3) weathered a major scare from the underdog Musketeers (23-14) and clamped down defensively during a game-ending 19-7 run.
Arizona is again on the brink of its first Final Four under coach Sean Miller, who led Xavier for five years until 2009.
Arizona will face top-seeded Wisconsin (34-3) on Saturday at Staples Center in a rematch of last season’s West final.
Notre Dame 81,
Wichita State 70
CLEVELAND (AP) — Momentum sagging and Wichita State surging, Mike Brey called time out and offered his Notre Dame players a reminder.
There was no screaming. No frantic scribbling of Xs-and-Os. That’s not Brey’s style. Or his team’s either.
“I said ‘Fellas, been here before,’” Brey said. “Little did I know it was going to be a lightning strike, a flat-out lightning strike.”
One that carried the Irish all the way to the brink of the Final Four.
Demetrius Jackson scored 20 points and third-seeded Notre Dame blitzed the Shockers in the second half of a surprisingly easy 81-70 victory Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinal to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in 36 years.