Men's college basketball: Clemson, Alabama use upsets to make Elite Eight

March 29 (UPI) -- No. 6 Clemson edged No. 2 Arizona before No. 4 Alabama dispatched No. 1 North Carolina, claiming two of the first four spots in the Elite Eight Eight of the 2024 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament via upsets.

The Clemson Tigers were the first to punch an Elite Eight ticket. The Tigers made nearly 50% of their shots in the 77-72 win Thursday in Los Angeles. Senior guard Chase Hunter scored 18 points while senior center P.J. Hall chipped in 17.


"We have a lot of respect for them, but it was our day," Brad Brownell told reporters. "We made enough plays to win. I'm just super happy these guys are going to get a chance to continue to play and we get to spend more time together."

The Tigers made 49.2% of their shots and led by as many as 13 points. They never trailed through the first 25 minutes. The Wildcats took a brief, one-point lead with 14:33 remaining, but never led again.


The Tigers will face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Elite Eight, with the winner advancing to the first Final Four in school history.

The Crimson Tide and Tar Heels played a much closer game in Los Angeles. The Tide outshot their top-seeded foes 47.8% to 38.5% in the 89-87 triumph. They also made 42.3% of their 3-pointers, compared to the Tar Heels' 37.5% clip.

Senior forward Grant Nelson scored a game-high 24 points, with 12 rebounds in the victory. Senior guard Aaron Estrada and sophomore guard Ryland Griffen chipped in 19 points apiece.

Senior guard Mark Sears scored 18 for the Tide.

The lead switched hands seven times in the first half and 12 times overall. The Tar Heels used a 15-2 run to push their largest advantage to 10 points about six minutes into the Sweet 16 contest.

The Tide responded with 8-0 and 10-0 runs to tighten the score, but still trailed 54-46 at the break. They opened the second half on a 13-3 run to take back the lead.

The Tar Heels answered late in the second half, starting an 8-0 run with 3:18 remaining for an 85-82 edge with 1:32 left on the clock. The Tide then outscored the Tar Heels 7-2 down the stretch to seal the victory.


In another early game, the No. 1 UConn Huskies trounced the No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs in a rematch of last year's title game. The Huskies dominated in nearly all statistical categories en route to the 82-52 victory in Boston.

They outshot their foes 46.2% to 36.2%, held edges of 50 to 29 in rebounding, 17 to 9 in assists, 20 to 10 in points off turnovers and 38-18 in points in the paint. Huskies guards Cam Spencer, Tristen Newton and Stephon Castle scored 18, 17 and 16 points, respectively.

The Huskies will take on the No. 3 Illinois Fighting Illini in the Elite Eight.

The Fighting Illini took down the No. 2 Iowa State Cyclones 72-69 on Thursday in Boston. They held just a slight shooting advantage (42.1% to 39.7%), but were able to hold off a late Cyclones run to clinch their spot in the Elite Eight.

Senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr., projected as an early pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, poured in a game-high 29 points for the Fighting Illini. Senior forward Coleman Hawkins chipped in 12 points and six rebounds.


The Huskies will battle the Fighting Illini at 6:09 p.m. EDT Saturday in Boston. The Huskies will attempt to reach their seventh Final Four. The Fighting Illini will try to reach their sixth national semifinal. The game will air on TBS.

The Crimson Tide will face the Tigers in the second Elite Eight game at 8:40 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles. That contest will air on the same network.

The No. 2 Marquette Golden Eagles will face the No. 11 N.C. State Wolfpack in the first game of Friday's Sweet 16 slate. That matchup will tip off at 7:09 p.m. in Dallas and air on CBS.

The No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers will battle the No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs at 7:39 p.m. in Detroit. That game will air on TBS/truTV. The No. 1 Houston Cougars will meet the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils at 9:39 p.m. in Dallas. That matchup will air on CBS.

The No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers will face the No. 3 Creighton Bluejays at 10:09 p.m. in Detroit. That game will air on TBS/truTV.

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