It was a tough day for the A.C.C., with Louisville and Duke both getting knocked out in the round of 32, and No. 1 North Carolina narrowly escaping an upset against Arkansas. Here’s a look at what happened Sunday:
Wisconsin, Florida, Baylor and South Carolina. That’s what is left of your East region. North Carolina. That’s what is left from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the N.C.A.A. tournament, after the No. 7 seed Gamecocks knocked off No. 2 Duke in a stunning upset, 88-81, on Sunday night.
The winners of the A.C.C. tournament championship in Brooklyn, Duke roared into March like a team finally hitting its stride. Paced by star freshman Jayson Tatum, the conference’s leading scorer Luke Kennard, and an enigmatic talent off the bench, Grayson Allen, the Blue Devils were looking like favorites to tear through the bracket, potentially setting up a showdown with top seed Villanova in the Round of 8 at Madison Square Garden.
Well, Wisconsin took care of the Wildcats on Saturday. And a day later, South Carolina, playing in front of a raucous crowd just 100 miles from its campus, obliterated Duke in the second half.
The Gamecocks had not won an N.C.A.A. tournament game before Friday since 1973. But they played the role of aggressors in the second half against Duke and its five-time champion coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
After making just seven field goals in the entire first half, South Carolina shot 71 percent from the floor in the second, looking quicker, stronger and hungrier than the Blue Devils. Foul trouble kept Kennard from becoming a factor, and South Carolina stretched its zone to really bother Duke’s shooters.
Sindarius Thornwell, who scored 29 points in the Gamecocks’ win over Marquette on Friday, was terrific again, finishing with a game-high 24 points.
“When you shoot 7 for 35 in the first half and you’re down just 7 points, I tell you, it just gives you confidence,” Thornwell said. “It was our defense. It kept us in it. We thought we could win the game coming out the second half because of shooting so poorly the first half.”
Point guard Duane Notice was impossible to keep out of the paint, scoring 17 points on 6 of 8 field goals.
North Carolina nearly lost on that same court in Greenville in the game before this one, but the Tar Heels rallied to hold off Arkansas. After No. 2 Louisville’s loss earlier in the day, though, the A.C.C., which set a record with nine teams in the tournament, is down to just one: the Tar Heels.
Meanwhile, South Carolina moves on to play in New York, where it will face No. 3 Baylor in a matchup that few could have ever seen coming.
Oregon is moving on to the round of 16 after coming from behind to beat upstart No. 11 seed Rhode Island, 75-72.
Down by eight at halftime, and by 11 with 13 minutes remaining, the Ducks leaned on sophomore Tyler Dorsey (27 points) and junior Dillon Brooks (19 points) to climb back in it.
Rhode Island got a huge performance from Stanford Robinson, who scored 21 points off the bench on 10-12 field goals, including a tip-in with 2:11 left to give Rhode Island a 72-68 lead. A 3-pointer by Tyler Dorsey tied it 30 seconds later. He would put Oregon up again with 30 seconds left after burying another three.
Down 75-72, with no timeouts, Rhode Island had one last chance to tie the game. But a long 3-pointer by E.C. Matthews, defended by Jordan Bell, sailed long.
Well, that was interesting. North Carolina narrowly — narrowly — avoided being the second No. 1 seed to get knocked off in the opening…