Kansas, Gonzaga, Oregon, Xavier eye Final Four with Elite Eight underway

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) It’s finally time to award the first spots in the Final Four.

And for the four teams chasing those tickets Saturday, it’s another shot to break through an often frustrating roadblock in the regional finals.

Kansas lost in the Elite Eight last year. So did Oregon, which won the first NCAA Tournament in 1939 but hasn’t pushed past the final eight since.

While those two teams meet in the Midwest Region final in Kansas City, Missouri, the West final in San Jose, California, features two teams – Gonzaga and Xavier – who have never won in this round.

Kansas coach Bill Self called it “the hardest game in the tournament.”

“There’s so much emphasis on the road to the Final Four,” Self said Friday. “It’s almost like the Final Four could be the equivalent of the national championship 30 years ago, with the type of intensity and the type of publicity it gets. … If you get beat in this game, you come just that close to getting to the goal.”

Kansas (31-4) has had the most success of that quartet, though there’s been plenty of frustration, too. The Jayhawks, the Midwest’s No. 1 seed, won the national title under Self in 2008 and went to the title game in 2012. But along the way, there have been four Elite Eight losses under Self – three coming despite carrying a 1-seed.

Kansas is chasing its first Final Four since that 2012 run.

Oregon (32-5), the Midwest’s 3-seed, is in the Elite Eight for the fourth time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Ducks have lost their last three, including to Kansas in 2002.

In the West, both 1-seed Gonzaga (35-1) and 11th-seeded Xavier (24-13) are each in the regional finals for a third time.

“All the games we feel the pressure to move on, to advance,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “This one, a little bit more because that Final Four is the goal of everybody.”

Here are things to know about the NCAA Tournament’s second week:

HEADLINING NAMES: The Midwest final features a national player of the year candidate in Kansas’ Frank Mason III and a preseason Associated Press All-American in Oregon’s Dillon Brooks. Mason, a 5-foot-11 senior, is averaging 20.9 points on 49 percent shooting, while Brooks – a 6-7 junior – is averaging 16.3 points.

LEGACY: Gonzaga’s Few has built a consistent winner in the Pacific Northwest, though that Final Four is the glaring omission from the resume. Still, Few has routinely refused to be consumed by the pursuit.

“It would be awesome for the school and for the Spokane community to be able to feel good about and hang their hat on,” Few said. “But my legacy is going to be about other things, at least as far as I’m concerned.”

SUMNER’S ABSENCE: No one expected Xavier to be here, especially after losing point guard Edmund Sumner to a season-ending knee injury in January. The Musketeers also lost six straight before regrouping to reach the Big East Tournament championship game and now an Elite Eight after upsetting 2-seed Arizona on Thursday night.

“We’re all tough guys,” junior guard J.P. Macura said. “We stuck together. And we’ve been playing tough together. And we’re not really backing down from anybody. And if you have that mentality, you can beat a lot of teams.”

BLUEBOOD BRACKET: Kentucky beat UCLA in the South Region semifinals on Friday night in Memphis, Tennessee, to claim a matchup of teams with a combined 19 NCAA titles. Now the second-seeded Wildcats are preparing for another marquee name in 1-seed North Carolina, which cruised past Butler, on Sunday.

A NEW SEC TOURNAMENT: The Southeastern Conference enters the regional finals standing alone among leagues. The SEC has three of the eight teams still standing with Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina – and is assured at least one Final Four team considering the Gators and Gamecocks play Sunday in the East final.

FINALLY, AN OVERTIME: The Gators’ 84-83 win against Wisconsin on Friday night on Chris Chiozza’s running 3-pointer marked the first overtime game of the tournament. And that came only after Badgers guard Zak Showalter hit an off-balance 3 with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to force the extra period.

FAREWELL: It didn’t take long after UCLA’s loss to Kentucky for star freshman point guard Lonzo Ball to say he was moving on from the college game. He had been considered a likely one-and-done NBA prospect all year and called Friday’s loss “my final game for UCLA.”

2022-2023 Atlantic 10 Basketball Schedule: How to watch men’s and women’s games on USA Network and NBC Sports

Atlantic 10 basketball is coming to NBC Sports this 2022-2023 season! Here's how to watch!
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Atlantic 10 basketball is headed to NBC Sports! During the 2022-2023 season, 35 exciting matchups will be featured on USA Network and NBC Sports digital platforms, including exclusive coverage of the 2023 Atlantic 10 Men’s Championship second round and quarterfinals, 26 men’s regular-season matchups, and three women’s regular-season games.

The action tips off on Saturday, December 10 on USA Network as the Drexel Dragons head to Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to take on the La Salle Explorers at 12:00 p.m. ET. Immediately after, the Dayton Flyers will face the UNC Asheville Bulldogs at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio at 2:00  p.m. ET.

All coverage on USA Network streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. See below for the 2022-2023 Atlantic 10 men’s and women’s basketball schedules as well as additional information on how to watch/live stream each game.

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2022-2023 Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Schedule:

*All times are listed as ET

DATE GAME NETWORK/PLATFORM TIME (ET)
Saturday, Dec. 10 Drexel at La Salle USA Network Noon
Saturday, Dec. 10 UNC Asheville at Dayton USA Network 2 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 7 Davidson at VCU USA Network Noon
Saturday, Jan. 7 UMass at George Washington USA Network 2 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 14 Loyola Chicago at Saint Joseph’s USA Network 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 14 Richmond at St. Bonaventure USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 17 UMass at VCU NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21 Dayton at George Washington USA Network 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21 La Salle at Saint Louis USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 29 Saint Joseph’s at George Mason USA Network Noon
Saturday, Feb. 4 Davidson at UMass USA Network 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4 George Mason at Loyola Chicago USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 5 Fordham at Richmond USA Network Noon
Saturday, Feb. 11 St. Bonaventure at Duquesne USA Network 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 11 Fordham at Davidson USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 18 Saint Joseph’s at Davidson USA Network 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 18 Fordham at VCU USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 19 George Washington at St. Bonaventure USA Network 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 22 St. Bonaventure at Davidson NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25 Rhode Island at Fordham USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 26 Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure USA Network Noon
Sunday, Feb. 26 Davidson at Duquesne USA Network 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 28 La Salle at Dayton NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 George Mason at Richmond USA Network 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 St. Bonaventure at UMass USA Network 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 VCU at George Washington USA Network 4:30 p.m.

How to watch the 2022-2023 Atlantic 10 Men’s Championship on USA Network:

DATE GAME TIME (ET)
Wednesday, March 8 A-10 Championship Second Round Noon, 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 9 A-10 Championship Quarterfinals Noon, 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

How to watch 2022-2023 Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball on NBC Sports:

  • Wednesday, January 25 – George Washington at Loyola Chicago at 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, January 26 – VCU at UMass at 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Wednesday, February 8 – St. Bonaventure at George Mason – 7:00 p.m. ET

Peacock Classic 2022: How to watch Gonzaga vs. Baylor, live stream info and game preview

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Two of men’s college basketball’s elite programs are set to face off when the No. 6 Baylor Bears and No. 14 Gonzaga Bulldogs play in the inaugural “Peacock Classic” Friday night. The game marks a rematch of the highly-anticipated 2021 NCAA National Championship Game, and the Zags will certainly look to get some revenge after Baylor ended their bid at an undefeated season.

The two programs boast two of the best coaches in the country, with Scott Drew of Baylor and Mark Few of Gonzaga working the sidelines. The “Peacock Classic” also marks a crucial point in the development of name, image and likeness deals at the collegiate level. Read on to learn everything you need to know ahead of the event.


How to watch the 2022 “Peacock Classic”

Only those with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan can stream the event. Sign up here or, if you have a free account, upgrade to Premium by going to your account settings.


A new world of NIL opportunities

For the first time, college athletes will be able to earn money by promoting a game in which they are playing.

Eligible players for both Baylor and Gonzaga can opt-in through NBC Sports Athlete Direct – a NIL community connecting student-athletes, advertisers and fans – and promote the game’s sponsors on their personal social media channels.

All participating players will be paid the same rate for their involvement.


Rematch of 2021 NCAA National Championship Game and series history

Baylor’s 86-70 victory over Gonzaga in the 2021 championship game marked the Bears’ first-ever NCAA men’s basketball title. The game carried added stakes since the Bulldogs entered it with a 31-0 record – the first team to make the championship game without a loss since Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores in 1979.

That matchup was a rightful bout between the two behemoths of that season – it was the first championship game that featured the tournament’s top two overall seeds since North Carolina beat Illinois in 2005. Baylor jumped all over Gonzaga in the early going, playing an aggressive style that prevented the Bulldogs from getting into their fluid offense and opened up its own attack for 3-pointers. Gonzaga was a -4.5-point favorite but never led in the game.

Gonzaga leads the all-time series between the teams 5-1, having won all their matchups with Baylor before the championship game. The previous meeting before 2021 saw Gonzaga eliminate Baylor from the 2019 NCAA tournament in the second round by a score of 83-71.


How Baylor and Gonzaga match up with each other

Both teams have been tested multiple times early in their seasons. Gonzaga (5-2) has defeated two teams currently ranked – No. 20 Michigan State and No. 19 Kentucky – but lost to No. 2 Texas and No. 5 Purdue. The Zags last played on Sunday, when they outlasted Xavier 88-84 to secure third place in the Phil Knight Legacy men’s tournament.

Baylor (5-2) has had it slightly easier but has still had to deal with talented teams; they lost to No. 3 Virginia and defeated No. 21 UCLA in back-to-back games earlier this month. They’re coming off a surprising 96-70 loss to Marquette in Wisconsin Tuesday night as part of the Big East-Big 12 Battle.

Gonzaga will face a tough task in trying to slow down Baylor’s offense, whose 88.1 points per game ranks ninth in the country.

The Bears are paced by a duo of strong guards. LJ Cryer leads the team at 17.9 points per game, and Adam Flagler is not far behind at 16.9 points per contest while averaging 6.9 assists.

Baylor also boasts the services of freshman Keyonte George, another talented guard who could be a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Naismith Player of the Year Award candidate Drew Timme leads the way for the Zags, averaging 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds. He’s flanked by Julian Strawther, who’s putting up 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per night.

Timme and Strawther are two of the six Gonzaga players left over from the 2021 finalist team, so vengeance will be top of mind. Baylor also has six holdovers from that championship matchup, including Cryer and Flagler.

With both teams ranked and looking to prove themselves early in the season, Friday will be a statement game – in more ways than one.