Xavier survives angry offer from No. 14 seeds

For much of his first-round play, No. 3 Xavier looked like he was sleepwalking against Kennesaw State, a No. 14 that stopped almost every Musketeer player.

But control in the sport is relentlessly fluid, and Xavier took it with a furious rally to hit back at the Owls, ultimately holding them back with a 72-67 win that provided another upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament who prevented men. (Baylor, another No. 3 seed, dodged another by beating University of California, Santa Barbara after losing by 1 at halftime.)

The Owls led at 13 with just under 10 minutes to play before Xavier finally woke up. The Musketeers scored the next 15 points – part of a run in which Kennesaw State went approximately 8 minutes without a field goal.

This led to a frantic back-and-forth, with teams exchanging leads on the course, until Xavier finally slid forward on a Colby Jones free-throw. Kennesaw had several chances late, but Spencer Rodgers stepped to the touchline while deflecting an inbound pass, preventing him from attempting a game-changing lob.

A scare for Xavier, sure, but not an early exit. – Oscar García

encounters to watch

The women’s NCAA basketball tournament is finally getting underway, while the men’s are in our second day of first-round action. Follow the standings and live scores, and check out our picks for the Friday games we don’t want to miss (all times Eastern):

Tournament of women

No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 UNLV

3 p.m., ESPNU

One of the hottest teams in the country, UNLV is currently riding a 22-game winning streak that includes the Mountain West Tournament title, though the Rebels are always 2-0 with Michigan. UNLV is playing in its second straight NCAA tournament, having last fielded in 2002. Michigan made the Elite Eight last year, so the pressure is on its Big Three, Leigha Brown, Laila Phelia and Emily Kiser, each of whom is averaging at least 16 points per game. The winner here meets either No. 3 LSU or No. 14 Hawaii.

#8 Southern California vs. #9 State of South Dakota

8 p.m., ESPN News

The state of South Dakota missed last year’s tournament but had become a fixture before then; this is their 11th voyage in 18 years since joining Division I. The Jackrabbits defeated Louisville and Kansas State that year to finish the season on a 21-game winning streak. Southern California is back in the field for the first time since 2014. Forward Rayah Marshall averages a double-double with 12.6 points and 11.4 rebounds. The teams have previously played each other twice, but not since 2006.

men’s tournament

#4 UConn vs #13 Iona

4:30 p.m. TBS

UConn started the season with 14 straight wins and ended up winning eight of their last nine games, but the Huskies lost to Marquette in the Big East semifinals. Iona also recorded a 14-game winning streak and finished the season with a win over Marist in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. Iona is coached by Hall of Famer Rick Pitino, who also coached in Kentucky, Louisville and Providence, as well as in the NBA UConn guard Jordan Hawkins is predicted to be the first-round NBA draft pick this year.

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Providence

7:10 p.m. CBS

Kentucky lost in the first round to 15 seed St. Peter’s last year, one of the biggest upsets in the tournament. Are the Wildcats vulnerable to an upset again? Kentucky ended its season by losing to Vanderbilt in SEC tournament play. Providence went on a nine-game winning streak during the season and had double wins in overtime against both Marquette and Creighton. Modelers give Providence a better shot than public brackets, according to The Upshot’s bracket tool.

No. 5 Miami vs. No. 12 Drake

7:25 p.m. TBS

Though Miami clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season crown with a 15-5 record in conference play, the Hurricanes’ blemishes included losses to Georgia Tech and Florida State. Miami may be without forward Norchad Omier, who injured his ankle at the ACC tournament. Drake has won 13 of his last 14 games and is led by guard Tucker DeVries, who is averaging 19 points per game. – Shivani Gonzales


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