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The beavers were not affected by the aesthetics, however.
Ethan Thompson scored 22 points, leading the state of Oregon, which continued its unlikely regional final for the first time since 1982. Early in the season, the Beavers will face Houston, who cooled off ahead of Buddy Boeheim and Syracuse, 62-46. Boeheim, who scored a total of 55 points in Orange wins against San Diego State and West Virginia, only got 12 points against the stubborn Houston defense, which led him to 3 of 13 shots. The Cougars, who finished in second place, haven’t been this far since the last of three consecutive trips to the Final Four in 1984.
Nonetheless, the bracket seems to be open to the unbeaten Gonzaga, who plays Creighton on Sunday, for the Bears (25-2), who have played three regional finals in the last 12 years but never a Final Four. For much of the Saturday afternoon, Baylor’s hopes of getting there were very much in jeopardy.
Villanova, who had won two of the last four national titles, had sensible designs for another until Gillespie tore a knee ligament three weeks ago. The Wildcats (18-7) lost three of their last four games before the tournament and were viewed by many as an early angry contestant. But the Wildcats regrouped and behind the second striker Jeremiah Robinson-Earl it went into the second weekend with convincing wins against Winthrop and North Texas State.
Even so, it seemed like a terrible matchup for Villanova on paper. It had the worst 3-point shooting defense of the remaining 16 teams in the tournament, and Baylor – led by his three-guard trio of Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague – was the top 3-point shooting team in the tournament at 41.5 Land percent of their shots behind the bow.
But Villanova intermittently threw a soft-zone press at Baylor, and when the Bears got on their offensive, the Wildcats switched between zone and man-to-man defense halfway through the pitch. The bears were confused. They only made 3 out of 19 3-pointers.
At the other end of the pitch, the Wildcats threatened Baylor with a smooth inside pass and the ability around the edge of Jermaine Samuels, who had 16 points, and Justin Moore, despite Robinson-Earl being kept at a modest 8 points and 12 rebounds. who added 15.
And when Villanova’s Brandon Slater blew past Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua on the wing and dipped over 6-foot-9 Matthew Mayer, he put Villanova in the lead 39:33.