Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, center, fights through a screen by Saint Mary's Beau Levesque, right, to disrupt a dribble by Saint Mary's Mickey McConnell, left, during the first half of Saint Mary's 75-68 NCAA tournament victory.
St. Mary's surprised Villanova, 75-68, as second-round action got under way in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Butler staved off an upset bid by Murray State in another second-round game and underdog Ohio University trailed Tennessee late in their contest. Five more games are on tap Saturday afternoon and evening.
Team Australia is alive and well in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The Saint Mary's Gaels, a No. 10 seed with several key imports from Down Under, performed solidly inside and outside to take down Big East power Villanova as second-round tournament play got under way Saturday.
But another potential upset fizzled in the final seconds as No. 13 seed Murray State lost to No. 5 seed Butler, 54-52. And No. 14 seed Ohio University trailed No. 6 seed Tennessee 71-60 with five minutes left in another late afternoon game.
Butler reached the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in eight years — and the Bulldogs would love to continue on to the Final Four in their hometown of Indianapolis.
Saint Mary's, a school that had been a non-factor in NCAA tournament play since 1959, gave away a big early lead against Villanova's Wildcats, then fought back down the stretch for a 75-68 win.
Guard Mickey McConnell banked a rainbow 3-pointer off the backboard to break a 65-65 tie, then followed it up with two foul shots to give the upstart squad from Northern California breathing room in the final minute.
The St. Mary's victory got Saturday's second-round action off to a rousing start and followed the tournament's recent trend of upset winners.
The first round of the tournament featured eight wins by lightly regarded "double digit" seeds — No. 10 or higher — meaning there's plenty of potential for the kind of Cinderella story that has charmed basketball fans in the past.
More of those underdogs will be in action throughout the weekend, with seven more games scheduled Saturday and eight on Sunday.
Joining Saint Mary's, Ohio U. and Murray State among the surprise survivors after round one were Cornell, Old Dominion and Northern Iowa. There were underdogs alive from bigger conferences, too, including Washington, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Missouri.
Still to be decided Saturday are contests between Northern Iowa and No. 1 seed Kansas; BYU and Kansas State; Washington and New Mexico; Old Dominion and Baylor; and Wake Forest and No. 1 seed Kentucky.
Eight more games are on schedule Sunday, including Michigan State and Maryland; Ohio State and Georgia Tech; No. 1 seed Syracuse and Gonzaga; Xavier and Pitt; California and Duke; Texas A&M and Purdue; Cornell and Wisconsin; and West Virginia and Missouri.
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