FINAL FOUR BOUND: Loyola-Chicago players celebrate after winning a regional final NCAA college basketball tournament game against Kansas State on Saturday in Atlanta. Michigan, Kansas and Villanova are also heading to the Final Four in San Antonio.

FINAL FOUR BOUND: Loyola-Chicago players celebrate after winning a regional final NCAA college basketball tournament game against Kansas State on Saturday in Atlanta. Michigan, Kansas and Villanova are also heading to the Final Four in San Antonio.

ATLANTA

Porter Moser stood in front of the scarf-clad Loyola cheering section, a bit dazed but beaming from ear to ear.

“Are you kidding me! Are you kidding me!” the Ramblers coach screamed over and over.

DUKE’S Trevon Duval (1) shoots as Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, left, and Marcus Garrett defend during a regional final game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Omaha, Neb.

DUKE’S Trevon Duval (1) shoots as Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, left, and Marcus Garrett defend during a regional final game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Omaha, Neb.

No kidding.

Loyola is headed to the Final Four .

An improbable NCAA Tournament took its craziest turn yet Saturday night, when Ben Richardson scored a career-high 23 points and the 11th-seeded Ramblers romped to a 78-62 victory over Kansas State to cap off a stunning run through the bracket-busting South Regional.

The Ramblers (32-5) matched the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the Final Four, joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011). Those other three all lost in the national semifinals.

Not the least bit intimidated, Loyola came out in attack mode right from the start against a Kansas State team that rode a stifling defense to the regional final. Moving the ball just as you’d expect from a veteran squad with two seniors and two fourth-year juniors in the starting lineup, the Ramblers kept getting open looks and bolted to a 36-24 halftime lead.

The Ramblers shot 57 percent against a team that is used to shutting opponents down, including 9 of 18 from 3-point range.

Kansas State hit just 35 percent from the field — 6 of 26 beyond the arc.

Early on the second half, Richardson swished a 3- pointer as he was fouled by Kamau Stokes , winding up flat on his back, flashing a huge smile with his arms raised above his head. He knocked down the free throw to complete the four-point play, stretching the lead to 44-29.

Loyola led by as many as 23.

Loyola will take on Michigan in the first of two semifinal games on Saturday.

Michigan 58,

Florida St. 54

LOS ANGELES — Moe Wagner climbed the ladder, snipped the final strand and whipped the net around his head while thousands of Michigan’s West Coast fans roared.

The Wolverines hadn’t caused much disturbance to those nets at Staples Center during the West Region final. They also knew it didn’t matter, because Florida State troubled the twine even less.

Wagner added 12 points as the Wolverines (32-7) earned their 13th consecutive victory by persevering through a defense-dominated second half despite shooting 4-for-22 from 3-point range.

After taking a 10-point lead on Duncan Robinson’s 3-pointer with 2:26 to play, Michigan’s lead dwindled to three before P.J. Savoy missed a potential tying 3- pointer for Florida State with 58 seconds left. The Wolverines held off a late charge from the Seminoles (23-12), who had already knocked off three higher-seeded opponents on their school’s longest NCAA Tournament run since 1993.

Phil Cofer scored 16 points for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (23-13), who couldn’t match their late rally past top-seeded Xavier last week because they simply couldn’t score consistently, going 7 for 30 from the field in the second half.

Savoy trimmed the Wolverines’ lead to 55-52 on a 3-pointer with 1:17 to play. With Michigan fans holding their breath, Savoy then missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer and two more 3-pointers in the final minute, including a final shot under pressure with 12 seconds left.

Michigan’s Zavier Simpson and Robinson combined to hit three free throws in the final minute to keep Florida State at bay.

And with Michigan up by four, Florida State allowed the Wolverines to dribble out the clock without fouling again.

Villanova 71,
Texas Tech 59

BOSTON — With all of the underdogs and upsets that have upended the NCAA tournament, no one has managed to come close to Villanova.

The 2016 national champions are headed back to the Final Four, thanks to a fourth straight double-digit victory in a month of March where they’ve played every bit like the No. 1 seed they earned.

The Wildcats (34-4) will play fellow No. 1 seed Kansas, which beat Duke 85- 81 in overtime later Sunday. They will join 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago and its telegenic nun , along with No. 3 seed Michigan in the national semifinals on Saturday in San Antonio.

Sister Jean, get ready for Father Rob.

“I very much look forward to meeting Sister Jean,” said the Rev. Rob Hagan, the priest on the Villanova bench. “I was 12 years of Catholic School and taught by the nuns. I have great respect for the Nuns. Usually what Sister says is what goes.”

Eric Paschall had 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, Brunson scored 15, and DiVincenzo also had eight of the Wildcats’ season high 51 rebounds. After starting four guards, Texas Tech (27-10) grabbed just 33 boards and shot just 18 free throws compared to 35 for Villanova to miss a chance to play for a championship in its home state.

The teams matched each other with 33 percent shooting from the floor — Villanova’s lowest since 2015— and the Wildcats made just 4 of 24 from beyond the arc. One of the most prolific 3-point shooting teams in NCAA history, they need seven to set a Division I single-season record.

They’ll get that chance in the Final Four.

It’s Villanova’s third trip to the Final Four in Wright’s tenure; in 2009, they also advanced from the Boston regional before losing in the national semifinals. Four players remain from the team that won it all two years ago.

Kansas 85, Duke 81, OT

OMAHA, Neb. — Kansas is going back to the Final Four.

Malik Newman and the top-seeded Jayhawks got past their Elite Eight road block Sunday, knocking off second-seeded Duke 85-81 in overtime to clinch the program’s first trip to the Final Four since 2012.

Newman scored all 13 of the Jayhawks’ points in OT and finished with a career-high 32 to lead Kansas (31-7).

The Jayhawks will face fellow top seed Villanova on Saturday in San Antonio — the site of KU’s last title over Memphis in 2008 — after snapping a two-game losing skid in the regional finals.

This was college basketball at its best, two blue bloods trading blows for 45 minutes in what was arguably the best game of March so far, one that featured 18 lead changes and 11 ties.

Had Grayson Allen’s bank shot to end regulation gone half an inch in a different direction, it might be Duke heading to South Texas.

Trevon Duval scored 20 points, two shy of a career high, for Duke. Freshman star and future lottery pick Marvin Bagley added 16 points and 10 rebounds in what could have been his final game for the Blue Devils (29-8), who fell shy of their first Final Four trip since winning the national title in 2015.

Allen had 12 points for the Blue Devils, but the senior’s try at the regulation buzzer went in and then out and then off the rim before spinning away to force overtime.

Kansas outrebounded Duke 47-32, a staggering stat given that the Jayhawks barely outrebounded their opponents heading into the game. Lagerald Vick had 14 points, Devonte’ Graham had 11 with six boards and six assists and Mykhailiuk had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while helping defend Bagley. “Even though Malik scored a lot of points, I don’t think that anybody had a better game than Svi did,” Self said.

The Jayhawks are in the Final Four for the 15th time.

LUKE MEREDITH, JIMMY GOLEN, GREG BEACHAM, from the Associated Press, also contributed to this article.


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