PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead North Carolina to an 88-74 victory over Notre Dame on Sunday night, leaving the Tar Heels as the only No. 1 seed in the Final Four.
The Tar Heels reached the Final Four for a record 19th time and the first since 2009, when they won the last of their five national championships.
North Carolina (32-6) will face Syracuse, the 10th seed from the Midwest Regional, in another all-Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in the Final Four on Saturday in Houston. The Orange beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62.
The game was two different halves. In the first, the teams went shot for shot with both teams shooting over 58 percent and neither leading by more than six points.
The second half was run for run and the Tar Heels, by taking control of the boards, had the last and biggest one to take control over the final 10 minutes.
Marcus Paige added 13 points and Joel Berry II had 11 points and eight assists for North Carolina, which has won its four tournament games by an average of 15.4 points. The Tar Heels finished with a 32-15 rebound advantage, including 13-5 on the offensive end.
Demetrius Jackson had 26 points and V.J. Beacham had 18 for sixth-seeded Notre Dame (24-12).
Syracuse 68, Virginia 62
CHICAGO – Malachi Richardson scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, and Syracuse extended its improbable run to the Final Four with a 68-62 victory over top-seeded Virginia.
The Orange were on the NCAA Tournament bubble after a rough closing stretch, but slipped in as a 10 seed before storming to its first Final Four since 2013 and No. 6 overall. It comes at the end of a challenging season for coach Jim Boeheim, who was suspended for nine games as the result of an NCAA investigation.
Syracuse (23-13) becomes the first 10 seed to make it to the Final Four and just the fourth double-digit seed to accomplish the feat. It’s the lowest seeded team to reach the national semifinals since VCU in 2011, according to STATS.
Michael Gbinije and freshman Tyler Lydon each scored 11 points for the Orange, who will face the winner of the East Regional final between North Carolina and Notre Dame on Saturday in Houston. Tyler Roberson finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
London Perrantes scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half for Virginia (29-8), which blew a 16-point lead in the second half. Malcolm Brogdon, the ACC player of the year, had 12 points on 2-of-14 shooting in the final game of his Cavaliers career.
Syracuse trailed 54-39 before it ripped off 25 of the next 29 points, including 15 in a row. And Richardson led the way, often taking the ball right at Brogdon.
Villanova 64, Kansas 59
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kris Jenkins made two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, Jalen Brunson added two more with 3.5 seconds left and second-seeded Villanova upset top-seeded Kansas 64-59 in the NCAA Tournament South Region final to reach the Final Four.
Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart each made big steals in the final minute to help the Wildcats (33-5) pull off the upset and end the Jayhawks’ 17-game winning streak. The Wildcats are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2009, and they can credit balanced scoring and ferocious defense.
Jenkins, Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono each scored 13 points for the Wildcats. They used a 10-0 run to take a 50-45 lead and get key baskets and plays down the stretch in beating the Jayhawks (33-5).
Devonte’ Graham had 17 points, and Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr. added 16 each for Kansas.
Villanova got 10 points from Daniel Ochefu, including a big jumper with 6:14 left, just one of many big plays the Wildcats made to preserve the lead after finally wresting it from Kansas.
Oklahoma 80, Oregon 68
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Buddy Hield hit eight 3-pointers while scoring 37 points, and Oklahoma advanced to its first Final Four since 2002 with an 80-68 victory over Oregon in the West Region final.
Jordan Woodard added 13 points for the Sooners (29-7), who streaked to an 18-point lead in the first half and never let the Ducks back in it.
The regional final was a monument to the formidable talent of Hield, the Sooners’ senior star. He produced a dynamite performance on his biggest stage, carving the Ducks’ defense from all distances with his smooth outside shot and a knack for momentum-swinging buckets.
Elgin Cook scored 24 points for the Ducks (31-7), whose 11-game winning streak ended one game shy of the second Final Four in school history.
Oklahoma is in the Final Four for the fifth time in school history. Hollis Price and Aaron McGhee led coach Kelvin Sampson’s Sooners there 14 years ago, only to lose to Indiana in the national semifinal.
The Sooners have never won a national title, but Hield’s talent suggests history could be made in Houston. The Sooners’ traveling fans serenaded him with chants of “Buddy! Buddy!” after the final whistle.
Hield scored 17 points in the first half, capped by drilling his fifth 3-pointer from three steps behind the line with 4 seconds left to put the Sooners up 48-30 at the break.
He hit two more huge 3-pointers down the stretch, including a graceful, high-arching shot with 4:20 to play that pushed Oklahoma’s lead back to 17 points.