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Men’s March Madness highlights: Alabama will face UConn in Final Four

Men’s March Madness continues Saturday night with the first slate of Elite Eight games. Defending champ UConn destroyed No. 3 Illinois to open the night’s action before No. 4 Alabama downed No. 6 Clemson to advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history.

Men’s NCAA tournament games are airing on TBS today. USA TODAY Sports will provide the latest news, scores, analysis and more all day. Follow along:

March Madness Elite Eight highlights

UConn defeats Illinois

Alabama defeats Clemson

FOLLOW THE MADNESS: NCAA basketball bracket, scores, schedules, teams and more.

NCAA Tournament scores

Here are Saturday’s NCAA Tournament results:

  • No. 1 UConn 77, No. 3 Illinois 52
  • No. 4 Alabama 89, No. 6 Clemson 82

Men’s March Madness NCAA Tournament schedule

Here’s the schedule for Sunday’s Elite Eight games.

Alabama reaches Final Four for first time

LOS ANGELES — The Tide are rolling to Arizona.

It was a slow start for the Crimson Tide against Clemson, starting the contest 1-for-13 from 3-point land while it fell behind by as much as 13 points. But the nation’s top scoring offense eventually woke up. It went on a 20-2 run toward the end of the first half to take the lead, and the offense continued its rhythm into the second half. Clemson would quickly take the lead out of halftime, but the 3-pointers were going in for Alabama and each clutch shot held the Tigers at bay. — Jordan Mendoza

Final: No. 4 Alabama 89, No. 4 Clemson 82

No. 4 seed Alabama is advancing to the Final Four for the first time in school history. The Crimson Tide will face reigning NCAA Tournament champion UConn after completing a double-digit comeback to defeat No. 6 Clemson.

Alabama trailed by as many as 13 points before pulling away for an 89-82 win. Tigers senior Joseph Girard III hit a three to bring Clemson within three points with 2:18 remaining, but Alabama instantly responded.

Alabama senior Mark Sears finished with a game-high 23 points, three rebounds and two assists. Alabama freshman Jarin Stevenson had 19 points and three rebounds off the bench.

“The hard work always pays off; hard work is undefeated,’ Sears said. ‘… I live for those moments. When you’re a kid you want to be in those moments and my dream definitely came true today.’

Clemson junior Ian Schieffelin had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Girard had a team-high 19 points and two assists.

Despite losing in the paint 44-26, Alabama won the rebound battle 44-33, including 16 offensive rebounds. The Crimson Tide shot 46.8% from the field and 16-of-36 from three (44.4%).

Alabama-Clemson: A barrage of 3s start to fall

For a long stretch of the Clemson-Alabama game, 3-pointers were hard to come by. Just seven were made in the first half.

But then came the second half. With less than 10 minutes to play, seven consecutive baskets were 3s, including four by the Crimson Tide as they grabbed a 68-62 lead with 6:06 left in the second half. Alabama’s Mark Sears made two of the 3s and Jarin Stevenson made one during that strech, and both have made five 3-pointers.

Alabama’s Mark Sears made six consecutive 3s and has a team-high 20 points. — Jeff Zillgitt

Alabama’s Grant Nelson picks up fourth foul

Alabama forward Grant Nelson, who picked up two early fouls to start the game and went to the bench, was called for his fourth foul with 10:22 remaining in the second half and took a seat again with Alabama up 55-51. After going for 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in a Sweet 16 victory against North Carolina, Nelson has six points and six rebounds against Clemson. — Jeff Zillgitt

Freshman Jarin Stevenson helps Alabama extend lead

Alabama freshman Jarin Stevenson hit back-to-back threes to extend the Crimson Tide’s lead to six points, but Clemson cut it back to 55-51 with 11:51 remaining.

Stevenson leads Alabama with 16 points and two rebounds off the bench. Senior Mark Sears added 11 points and three rebounds.

Clemson junior Ian Schieffelin is on double-double watch, with 12 points and seven rebounds. The Tigers, however, are still struggling from beyond the arc, shooting 2-of-14 from three.

Alabama is outrebounding Clemson 33-26, but is losing the battle in the paint to Clemson, 34-20.

Balanced scoring for both Alabama, Clemson

Alabama has six players with at least five points, led by Jarin Stevenson’s 10 points and Rylan Griffen’s 10 points, and Clemson has four players with at least five points topped by Ian Schieffelin’s 12 points as the pace and intensity picked up.

Clemson center PJ Hall’s bucket with 15:54 left in the second half cut Alabama’s lead to 46-43 at the under-16 timeout. — Jeff Zillgitt

Halftime: Alabama 35, Clemson 32

Twenty minutes remain before either Clemson or Alabama reaches its first NCAA Final Four in men’s basketball.

Alabama rebounded from a 13-point deficit against Clemson and took a 35-32 lead into halftime of their Elite Eight matchup. The Tigers grabbed a 26-13 lead, but it evaporated quickly as the Crimson Tide made four corner 3s, including two by freshman Jarin Stevenson, who had 10 points off the bench.

Alabama’s Grant Nelson, the hero in the Sweet 16 victory against North Carolina with 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, played limited minutes after picking up his second foul less than four minutes into the game. He had four points and four rebounds in the first half, and Aaron Estrada collected five points, five rebounds and three assists for the Crimson Tide.

Ian Schieffelin led Clemson with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Making 3s didn’t come easy for either team. Alabama, just 33.3% from the field, was 6-for-21 and Clemson 1-for-9 from that distance. — Jeff Zillgitt

Alabama rallies back vs. Clemson

Alabama trailed by as many as 13 points, but the Crimson Tide cut the lead to two points with 3:51 remaining in the first half after going on an 11-0 run. They trail 28-26.

Clemson junior Ian Schieffelin leads the Tigers with eight points and four rebounds. But the Tigers are struggling from beyond the 3-point line, shooting only 1-of-7.

Alabama freshman Jarin Stevenson has a team-high 10 points off the bench. The Tide are shooting 31.3% from the field and 4-of-16 from three. The Crimson Tide are outrebounding Clemson 23-14, including 10 offensive rebounds. — Cydney Henderson

Clemson leads Alabama early

Two Tigers have 12 of Clemson’s 14 points at the under 12-minute timeout. The Tigers lead 14-11.

Ian Schieffelin has eight points and PJ Hall has four. RJ Godfrey made the other basket and was fouled as the broadcast went to a commercial before Godfrey’s free throw. Alabama is shooting 25% from the field and is 1-for-8 on 3-pointers.

Alabama’s Grant Nelson re-entered the game with his two fouls at the 11:48 mark. — Jeff Zillgitt

Alabama vs Clemson underway; Sweet 16 hero Grant Nelson in early foul trouble

No. 6 seed Clemson came out of the gate firing and went on a 6-0 run to start the game. No. 4 seed Alabama got on the board at the 17:19 mark of the first half with Grant Nelson’s field goal and tied it up 6-6 with Rylan Griffen’s three.

Nelson, however, picked up two quick fouls in the opening minutes of the matchup. He has three points so far, but was forced to take a seat on the bench in foul trouble.

Clemson’s Ian Schieffelin made both free throws to reclaim the lead, 8-6, with 15:53 remaining in the first half. — Cydney Henderson

UConn makes it 10 NCAA Tournament wins in a row

BOSTON — Four down, two to go.

After a slow start, No. 1 Connecticut put together a jaw-dropping second half and routed No. 3 Illinois 77-52 to win the East Region and return to the Final Four. The Huskies narrowly missed becoming the first team to win an Elite Eight game by 30 or more points, last done by Cincinnati against Memphis in 1992.

This makes 10 tournament wins in a row for the defending national champions and coach Dan Hurley, all by double digits. With each passing blowout, UConn builds a stronger case for placing this two-year run among the best in college basketball history. — Paul Myerberg

Final: No. 1 UConn 77, No. 3 Illinois 52. Defending champion Huskies return to Final Four

Defending champion and No. 1 UConn is headed to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and very much look like a team poised to repeat.

It was 23-23 with 1:50 left in the first half, and when UConn’s Hassan Diarra scored with 13:15 left in the second half, the Huskies led 53-23.

UConn 7-footer Donovan Clingan had 22 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals, and guard Cam Spencer had 11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal.

Illinois’ demise was marred by an uncharacteristic offensive performance. One of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation averaging 84.2 points, the Illini shot 25.4% from the field and had two stretches of at least five minutes without a point. Marcus Domask led Illinois with 17 points. — Jeff Zillgitt

UConn buries Illinois with stunning 30-0 run

Illinois senior Justin Harmon made a layup with 12:39 remaining in the second half to end UConn’s 30-0 run.

Yes, 30-0.

The Fighting Illini trail 56-25.

They didn’t score for nearly 10 minutes to start the second half as Huskies sophomore Donovan Clingan wreaked havoc. He has 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Illinois has only scored one field goal in the entire second half.

Illinois is shooting 20.8% from the field, 2-of-15 from three and has been outscored 38-18 in the paint. The Fighting Illini have five turnovers, which UConn converted to seven points.

Illinois senior Marcus Domask has 15 of the team’s 25 points. No other Illinois player is in double digits. — Cydney Henderson

UConn starting to pull away

UConn opened its biggest lead of the game, 39-23, with an 11-0 run to start the second half, which was part of a 16-0 run bridging the two halves. UConn center Donovan Clingan opened the half with an emphatic dunk and block, and Illinois’ offensive struggles extended into the opening minutes of the second half. Clingan has 14 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.

Illinois called a timeout with 15:59 left in the second half in an effort to slow the Huskies. — Jeff Zillgitt

Can Illinois get Terrence Shannon going?

If Illinois has a shot at beating top-seed UConn, it needs a big offensive performance from Terrence Shannon Jr. in the second half. He had just two points on 1-for-7 shooting in the first half – that after scoring 26, 30 and 29 points in the first three games of the NCAA Tournament and 28, 40 and 34 points in the Big Ten tournament.

“He throws his body into the defense on drives,” UConn coach Dan Hurley told the broadcast at halftime. “We’ve done a really good job of walling up and taking away his catch-and-shoot 3s. But it’s a long game, and he’s a hell of a player.” — Jeff Zillgitt

Halftime: UConn 28, Illinois 23

With a spot in the Final Four on the line, UConn took a 28-23 lead into halftime against Illinois. It wasn’t exactly a half for offensive purists especially since the two teams entered among the most efficient offensive teams in the country.

Illinois shot just 29% from the field, and UConn was just 1-for-11 on 3-pointers, missing its first 10.

Huskies center Donovan Clingan, a projected first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, had nine points, six rebounds, two blocks and one steal. Hassan Diarra added seven points, and after Clingan and Diarra’s seven made shots, the rest of the Huskies were 3-for-19 from the field. — Jeff Zillgitt

Illinois offense off to rough start

Illinois, one of the highest scoring teams in the nation at 84.2 points per game, had just 13 points in the first 13 minutes against UConn. The Illini went five minutes without a made basket, missing 11 consecutive shots. After breaking the scoreless stretch with 6:19 left in the first half, the Illini trimmed their deficit to 19-17 – thanks in part to UConn missing its eight 3-point attempts. — Jeff Zillgitt

Illinois goes cold again

Illinois is in another scoring drought. The Fighting Illini have not scored in over four minutes in the first half, paving the way for a 4-0 run by UConn to go up 19-13.

Illinois is shooting a dismal 22.7% from the field and 2-of-5 from three and are getting dominated in the paint, 16-6.

UConn sophomore Donovan Clingan has a team-high nine points, three rebounds and two blocks. Senior Hassan Diarra added four points off the bench.

“Were going to keep going at him,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said of Clingan. “If he blocks 100, he blocks 100. We aren’t backing down. We are going to do what we do.” — Cydney Henderson

Illinois gets back in the game vs. UConn

Illinois is on the board and settling in. After going scoreless for the first four minutes of the game, senior Marcus Domask made one of two free throws for the Fighting Illini’s first point of the game. Domask then knocked down two 3-pointers. He has nine of Illinois’ 13 points. After being down by as many as nine points, Illinois is within two points of UConn and only trails 15-13 with 10:58 remaining in the first half. — Cydney Henderson

UConn vs. Illinois score: Huskies start on 9-0 run

The Huskies are off to a fast start. UConn opened the game on a 9-0 run, with seven of the team’s points coming from sophomore Donovan Clingan.

Illinois hasn’t made a field goal in the first four minutes of the game. The Fighting Illini are 0-of-4 from the field, 0-1 from three and 0-of-2 from the free-throw line. They have more turnovers (2) than points. — Cydney Henderson

March Madness Elite Eight schedule today

Here is the scoreboard for today’s Elite Eight games.

What time does Elite Eight start?

The first Elite Eight game, between No. 1 UConn and No. 3 Illinois, tips off just after 6 p.m. EDT.

What time does March Madness start today?

Here is Saturday’s Elite Eight schedule.

  • 6:09 p.m.: (1) UConn vs. (3) Illinois
  • 8:49 p.m.: (4) Alabama vs. (6) Clemson

Who won the Sweet 16 games last night?

How to watch Elite Eight games 2024

TBS will air both of today’s Elite Eight games. CBS will air the men’s Final Four and championship game.

UConn’s start to March Madness should scare tournament opponents

Once again, it feels like it’s UConn versus the field. That’s what happened last year as the Huskies tore through March, dominating all six opponents on their way to a national championship. What UConn did this weekend looked like a carbon copy — only this time, everyone sees it coming.

Yes, the competition will get tougher as UConn advances to the East Regional, where an Elite Eight game against No. 3 seed Illinois could be one of the most exciting matchups of the tournament. But at this point, the distance UConn has created between itself and everyone else almost seems as big as what women’s basketball dealt with when Geno Auriemma won four consecutive national titles between 2013 and 2016. Read Dan Wolken’s full column.

How to stream March Madness on your phone

You can catch every second by streaming every game through a few different options.

  • Stream through Paramount+
  • Stream through HULU with Live TV
  • NCAA March Madness Live app
  • Stream through DirecTV Stream

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Elite Eight predictions

(1) Connecticut vs. (3) Illinois, 6:09 p.m. ET Saturda(at TD Garden in Boston)

  • Jordan Mendoza: UConn
  • Paul Myerberg: UConn
  • Dan Wolken: UConn

(4) Alabama vs. (6) Clemson, 8:49 p.m. ET Saturday(at Arena in Los Angeles)

  • Jordan Mendoza: Clemson
  • Paul Myerberg: Alabama
  • Dan Wolken: Alabama

Men’s March Madness schedule

Here is the men’s schedule:

  • First round: March 21-22
  • Second round: March 23-24
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 6 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 8 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

UConn vs. Illinois odds and predictions

The Huskies are favorites to defeat the Fighting Illini in Saturday’s Elite Eight March Madness matchup, according to the BetMGM college basketball odds. Looking to wager? Check out the best mobile sports betting apps offering sports betting promos in 2024. Odds as of Friday:

  • Spread: UConn (-7.5)
  • Moneylines: UConn (-325); Illinois (+260)
  • Over/under: 156.5

March Madness 2024 game locations

Here are all the venues hosting tournament games over the next couple weeks.

Why Jim Nantz isn’t calling 2024 March Madness games

As the men’s NCAA Tournament begins, fans may be wondering where Jim Nantz, voice synonymous with one of the most popular events in college sports is.

Nantz decided the 2023 NCAA Tournament would be his last so he could focus on his family and other broadcasting commitments. Nantz didn’t retire from broadcasting; He’s still calling The Masters and serves as the lead play-by-play person for CBS’ NFL coverage alongside Tony Romo. The duo were in the booth for Super Bowl 58 in February. — Jordan Mendoza

Terrence Shannon Jr. case shows how NIL can increase legal protection for college athletes

Terrence Shannon Jr., who has led Illinois to the Elite Eight of the NCAA men’s tournament despite being charged with rape, is drawing attention from an eclectic group.

Of course there are basketball scouts. Shannon, a 6-6 senior guard widely projected to be a Top 15 pick in the NBA draft in June, will take the court again Saturday when No. 3 Illinois is set to play No. 1 seed Connecticut.

But there also are law professors, other academics and higher-education consultants tracking the situation for reasons that go far beyond basketball. In January, a federal judge granted Shannon legal protection based in part on Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals that were unavailable to college athletes before 2021. Read Josh Peter’s full story here.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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