March 24 (UPI) — The fourth-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks punched their ticket to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year after a 74-68 upset win over the No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday night in San Francisco.
J.D. Notae scored 21 points despite missing 20 shots from the field for the Razorbacks (28-8), who are back in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for just the third time since 1995. Arkansas will play either Duke or Texas Tech in Saturday’s West Region final.
Jaylin Williams and Trey Wade each added 15 points for Arkansas. Au’Diese Toney, who punctuated the Razorbacks’ victory with a last-second dunk, had nine points and seven rebounds.
Drew Timme scored 25 points but failed to rally the Bulldogs (28-4), who were favored to win the national championship for the second straight season. Gonzaga, however, once again fell to a more physical and scrappier foe.
Zags head coach Mark Few’s team was undefeated last season before losing to Baylor in the national title game.
Arkansas constantly challenged 7-foot Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren in the paint, and the projected NBA lottery pick fouled out with 3:29 left in the game. He finished with 11 points — all coming in the second half — and 14 rebounds in what may have been his final college game.
Julian Strawther finished with 12 points on 3 of 9 shooting for the Bulldogs, who shot just 37.5% from the field and 23.8% from 3-point range as a team.
In the other early Sweet 16 matchup Thursday, the No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats (29-7) earned a 63-55 win over the 11th-seeded Michigan Wolverines.
Jermaine Samuels led the Wildcats with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Villanova will face either top-seeded Arizona or No. 5 seed Houston in the South Region final.
Hunter Dickinson recorded 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolverines (19-15). Eli Brooks added 14 points and five rebounds.