UNC, Florida bow out early this year


Half of last year’s Final Four has flopped.

North Carolina and Florida were eliminated in back-to-back shockers Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Seventh-seeded Penn State beat the No. 2 Tar Heels 82-74 in the New Orleans Superdome right after No. 11 Temple took care of the No. 3 ators 75-54 on the same court in the South. Penn State, in the round of 16 for the first time since 1955, plays Temple in Atlanta on Friday. North Carolina’s loss completed a stunning spiral for a team that in mid-February was ranked No. 1 and riding an 18-game winning streak under first-year coach Matt Doherty. The Tar Heels lost four of their last eight games heading into the NCAAs, including a 79 53 drubbing against Duke in the ACC tournament final. Titus Ivory, Joe Crispin and Gyasi Cline-Heard combined for 61 points for Penn State, which was outshot 47 percent to 44 percent and was outrebounded 44-33. But the Nittany Lions had half as many turnovers as the Tar Heels. “It was a frustrating game,” Doherty said. “They had 28 points off turnovers and that hurt. I don’t know if I’ll ever watch the tape. You can’t turn the ball over 22 times and expect to win the game.” UNC has made 27 straight NCAA tourney appearances, won three national championships and produced such stars as Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Vince Carter. Penn State, by contrast, has made just three NCAA appearances in the past 35 years and never has had an All-American. Temple, meanwhile, used its trademark matchup zone defense to shut down Florida’s up tempo shooters and shut off passing lanes. With six minutes left, the Gators had only 13 baskets and 11 turnovers. “We’ve been walking a tight wire for the last 4-to-5 weeks,” Temple coach John Chaney said.”With what they’ve accomplished, I’ve got to applaud them.” Top-seeded Michigan State, which defeated Florida in the 2000 NCAA title game, and No. 12 Gonzaga also advanced in the South. In Memphis, Tenn., Michigan State beat No. 9 Fresno State 81-65, while Gonzaga topped No. 13 Indiana State 85-68 to get to the regional semifinals for the third year in a row. The Midwest held to form Sunday, with the top four seeds — Illinois, Arizona, Mississippi and Kansas — headed to San Antonio for the regional semifinals. No. 3 Mississippi edged Notre Dame 59-56 in Kansas City, Missouri, but the other three game were lopsided. Ole Miss next faces second-seeded Arizona, which beat Butler 73-52. In Dayton, Ohio, No. 1 Illinois beat Charlotte 79-61 to set up a game against Kansas, which easily defeated Syracuse 87-58. In Saturday’s action, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Southern California made it to the round of 16 in the East, while Stanford, Maryland, Cincinnati and Georgetown won in the West.