NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight teams set for weekend matchups

Gonzaga beats West Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament

No 1. seed Gonzaga is just one win away from ending all that talk and the making the first Final Four in the school's history. The 'Zags hit 8-of-13 shots from three-point range in the first 20 minutes, while Xavier went just 1-of-5 from deep.

Jordan Mathews and Josh Perkins scored 11 apiece. Trevon Bluiett leads the way with 10 points. And, they are here and are now the lowest seeded team in the Sweet 16. Bluiett is cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever do it in a Xavier uniform.

Kaela Davis scored 28 points on five 3-pointers, A'ja Wilson added 24 and the SC defense smothered the Bobcats (29-7), who missed their first 10 shots and took more than seven minutes to score. Few has had the Zags close so many times before, with five previous trips to the Sweet Sixteen and one to the Elite Eight as recently two years ago.

The Ducks feature four scoring options on one end of the floor and smother teams at the rim on the other, leading the nation in blocked shots. That kind of shooting sent Gonzaga to the locker room up 49-39 over the Musketeers.

Lagerald Vick finally got KU on the board with a 3-pointer at the 16:12 mark.

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"It's not validation now they've made a Final Four", said the transfer from Cal. "Look at all the past great teams with Matt Bouldin, Adam Morrison, Matt Santangelo and (Jeremy) Pargo, just great guys, great players on fantastic teams".

And for the four teams chasing those tickets Saturday, it's another shot to break through an often frustrating roadblock in the regional finals. So did OR, which won the first NCAA Tournament in 1939 but hasn't pushed past the final eight since. It came from these students at UNC Charlotte, who really have the whole ball movement thing figured out. And the second half they played better than we did. But Ken Pomeroy's most efficient team in the country is known first and foremost for its defense, which for the fourth time in five games held an opponent to one of that team's two worst offensive performances of the season. Those are the shoes that White, who had never been coached an NCAA tournament game until he squared off with East Tennessee State on March 16th of this year, had to fill. The Zags were No. 1 in defensive efficiency during the regular season and shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to become the first WCC team to reach the Final Four in 60 years.

Both teams are coming off thrilling Sweet 16 wins, as Gonzaga topped upset-minded No. 4 seed West Virginia 61-58, while Xavier shocked No. 2 seed Arizona 73-71. Game tips off Saturday at 6:09 p.m. from San Jose, Calif.

Which means soon enough, the story will turn from Gonzaga reaching its first Final Four to Gonzaga trying to capture its first national championship. OR faces Kansas in the Midwest Regional championship at Kansas City, Missouri. Just like this year's Gonzaga squad, Olynyk's 2012-13 Bulldogs entered the tournament as a No. 1 seed, but his squad lost in the round of 32 to the Wichita State Shockers. The latter was both surreal and admirable to behold: Mack defeating the last coach that guided Xavier to an Elite Eight - for an Elite Eight bid.

Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Justin Jackson added 24 as top-seeded North Carolina moved to the Elite Eight with a 92-80 victory over Butler in the NCAA South Region on Friday night.

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