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Louisville coach Rick Pitino maintained his perfect record in the Round of 16 in college basketball’s national men’s tournament as the Cardinals upset top-seeded Michigan State to reach the West Regional final.
Louisville was one of two Big East conference teams to reach the National Collegiate Athletic Association final eight, along with Syracuse. Ohio State and Florida also advanced last night to regional finals.
Gorgui Dieng had seven blocked shots as Louisville won 57- 44 to make the Spartans the first regional top seed to lose in this year’s tournament. Dieng, a sophomore center from Senegal, also had three steals in leading a Louisville defense that held the Spartans to 29 percent shooting.
“Tell me where they are, I’ll go over there,” said Pitino, whose 10-0 record in Round of 16 games includes one coaching win at Providence, five at Kentucky and four at Louisville. “I don’t care. Congo, Senegal, wherever it is, I’ll go.”
Fourth-seeded Louisville (29-9) will face No. 7 Florida (26-10) in the West Regional final tomorrow. Syracuse (34-2), the top seed in the East Regional, will play No. 2 Ohio State (30-7) in that regional’s final tomorrow.
Kentucky (34-2), the top seed in the entire tournament, plays its regional semifinal game tonight against Indiana (27-8) in the South Regional in Atlanta. The Wildcats lost earlier this season to the fourth-seeded Hoosiers.
No. 3 Baylor faces No. 10 Xavier in another South Regional semifinal tonight in Atlanta, while top-seeded North Carolina plays No. 13 Ohio and No. 2 Kansas takes on 11th-seeded North Carolina State in Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis.
Louisville, which won the Big East conference tournament, got 15 points and nine rebounds from Chane Behanan in its win against the Spartans (29-8), whose Draymond Green had 13 points and 16 rebounds in the game at the US Airways (LCC) Center in Phoenix.
Bradley Beal had 21 points to lead Florida to a 68-58 win in Phoenix against Marquette (27-8), which was trying to become the third Big East school of the night to advance.
In the East Regional, Syracuse overcame 14 3-pointers by Wisconsin to hold on for a 64-63 victory against the No. 4 Badgers at the TD Garden in Boston. C.J. Fair scored 15 points and Scoop Jardine had 14 to lead the Orange.
Jordan Taylor, who had 17 points, six assists and four rebounds for Wisconsin (26-10), missed a long 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Jared Berggren also scored 17 points for Wisconsin, which went 14-for-27 on 3-pointers.
“This is one of the best games I’ve been involved with in a long time, I think the best game anybody has ever played against us and didn’t beat us,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said in a news conference. “I don’t think anybody has ever made 14 threes against us and we beat them.”
Ohio State used a 17-1 second-half run to defeat sixth- seeded Cincinnati (26-11) in Boston. Jared Sullinger had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes, and Deshaun Thomas contributed 26 points.
Cashmere Wright had 18 points for the Bearcats, who trailed 37-25 before opening the second half with a 27-11 run to take a four-point lead -- only to have the Buckeyes respond with their decisive 17-1 run.
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