OKLAHOMA CITY — Leading by one against the colossus of the bracket, Ali Farokhmanesh stood at the 3-point line, no one around. The prudent play? Pull it out, burn some clock.
Not a chance.
Taking his shot at history, Farokhmanesh let fly from the wing.
The biggest upset in a tournament full of them was done. Northern Iowa had taken down mighty Kansas.
Playing with poise down the stretch and getting another big 3-pointer from Farokhmanesh, Northern Iowa pulled off one of the biggest NCAA upsets in years by knocking No. 1 overall seed Kansas from the bracket with a program-defining 69-67 win on Saturday.
"If anybody's going to shoot that shot, I want it to be Ali," UNI's Jake Koch said.
Winning the tempo tug-of-war, ninth-seeded Northern Iowa (30-4) grounded the high-flying Jayhawks with in-their-jersey defense, then withstood a furious rally for the first win over a No. 1 seed in the second round since UAB and Alabama did it to Kentucky and Stanford in 2004.
No. 5 Butler 54, No.13 Murray 52
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Butler's Gordon Hayward instinctively left his man for a double-team, deflected a freshman's desperate pass and slammed Murray State's storybook shut.
Those rip-roaring Racers were awfully close to a second straight bracket-busting upset before the tournament-tested Bulldogs reminded them which small school almost always plays big in March.
Ronald Nored's three-point play snapped a tie with 25.4 seconds left, and Butler narrowly evaded a second stunner by the 13th-seeded Racers in three days, advancing to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament with a 54-52 victory Saturday.
Nored scored 15 points and Hayward had 12 before making the decisive defensive play for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (30-4), who extended the nation's longest winning streak to 22 games and advanced to the round of 16 for the second time in four years.
"I think we just wanted it," said Hayward, who persevered through a 4-of-13 shooting performance. "I'm sure they wanted it badly, too, but we all just dug in. We did whatever we could to get the job done."
Tennessee 83, Ohio 68
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl cleared his bench at the end of the game, a victory over No. 14 seed Ohio and a berth in the Midwest Regional semifinals secure.
It was time to reward the guys who helped the Volunteers get there.
J.P. Prince scored 18 points and Scotty Hopson had 17 to lead sixth-seeded Tennessee to an 83-68 victory over Ohio on Saturday and give the Vols their third Sweet 16 berth in four years. The other starters pitched in, too: Brian Williams and Wayne Chism had 12 rebounds apiece, and Bobby Maze had nine assists.
But Pearl wanted them to share the celebration with the reserves who filled in after a New Year's Day gun, drug and alcohol bust left Tennessee with just six scholarship
"There's no question, Josh Bone and Renaldo Woolridge, Skylar McBee — those guys all played a lot in a stretch of games," Pearl said. "We're a team, we're a family, and those guys got us through. ... We don't get here to this game if Melvin Goins doesn't step up to San Diego State, and Cameron Tatum, I thought, played well. And so it's a team."
Tennessee (27-8) will play the winner of Sunday's Ohio State-Georgia Tech game in St. Louis. The Vols have never gotten past the third round, including losses to Ohio State and Louisville under Pearl in 2007 and '08.
No.1 St. Mary’s 75, No. 2 Villanova 68
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Omar Samhan was an unstoppable Gael force. The only time the Saint Mary's star slowed down was to enjoy the moment.
"Did it really happen?" he shouted outside the locker room. "We won? For real?"
For real, Omar.
Samhan's ascension into national prominence is blasting off — and so is Saint Mary's run in the NCAA tournament as the Gaels are improbably headed to the round of 16.
Samhan played the game of his career on basketball's biggest stage, finishing with 32 points and seven rebounds to lead 10th-seeded Saint Mary's past Villanova 75-68 on Saturday and on to Houston for the South Regional's Sweet 16.
"Number One. Best win ever. Quote it," Samhan said. "Omar Samhan said, 'Best win ever.' It was."
Fitting for a team stocked with Australians, Saint Mary's (28-5) went way, way long for it winning shot.
Mickey McConnell, stopped and fired a 25-footer that followed the path of the Gateway Arch and banked high off the glass and in to give Saint Mary's a 68-65 lead with 1:15
"I got a little separation so I had an open look," a smiling McConnell said. "So I just let it go and luckily the backboard was there."
Samhan used a two-handed stuff to turn back Reggie Redding and McConnell made both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 70-65 and turn most of a packed crowd into the country's biggest collection of Saint Mary's fans.
The Gaels, from Moraga, Calif., north of Oakland, will play Old Dominion or Baylor on Thursday.
No.11 Washington 82, No. 3 New Mexico 64
SAN JOSE, Calif. — After a rocky regular season, Quincy Pondexter and his Washington Huskies are rolling at exactly the right time.
Pondexter scored 18 points, Isaiah Thomas added 15 and 11th-seeded Washington extended its incredible late-season surge all the way to the NCAA tournament's regional semifinals with an 82-64 second-round victory over New Mexico on Saturday.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies (26-9), who have won nine straight, including the Pac-10 tournament and wins over two higher-seeded opponents in the East Regional at the Shark Tank.
Washington ran right past the third-seeded Lobos (30-5), who simply couldn't keep up with the breakneck offensive pace in their second loss in three games, falling behind by 23 points midway through the second half.
Their season seemed headed nowhere in late January, but the Huskies are the epitome of a talented team peaking at tournament time. Washington began the season in the national rankings, but slumped badly before this stellar finish.
Washington advanced to next week's regional semifinal in Syracuse, N.Y., against the winner of second-seeded West Virginia's meeting with Missouri on Sunday. The Huskies are in the round of 16 for the third time since 2005.
No. 2 Kansas St. 84, No. 7 BYU 72
OKLAHOMA CITY — Jacob Pullen scored 20 of his career-high 34 points in the first half to help dig No. 2 seed Kansas State out of an early 10-point hole, and the Wildcats turned away Jimmer Fredette and BYU 84-72 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Pullen came alive with a scoring flurry shortly after he and Fredette got tangled up in transition in the first half, and K-State (28-7) wouldn't trail again in earning its first round of 16 appearance since 1988.
Pullen surpassed 30 points for the third time in his career and helped seal the victory with a 3-pointer and six free throws down the stretch. Equally as important as his scoring was his physical defense against Fredette, who had scored 37 points to get the seventh-seeded Cougars (30-6) past Florida in double overtime in the first round.
Fredette finished with 21 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Kentucky 90, Wake Forest 60
NEW ORLEANS — Two games, two blowouts.
John Calipari's top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats are young and inexperienced, but no longer unproven in the NCAA tournament, during which their average margin of victory now stands at 29.5 points after two rounds.
Darius Miller scored a career-high 20 points and Kentucky made easy work of No. 9 Wake Forest during a 90-60 rout in their second-round meeting Saturday night.
Miller scored 16 points in the first half to help the Wildcats (34-2) build an early double-digit lead that ballooned to 31 in the second half.
DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points for Kentucky, while John Wall scored 14 and Eric Bledsoe 13.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 16 points for Wake Forest (20-11), which was down by 16 at halftime and never mounted a credible comeback attempt during the final 20 minutes. C.J. Harris added 11 points for the Demon Deacons.
Kentucky moves on to the East Regional semifinals in Syracuse, N.Y., where they'll play the winner of Sunday's second-round game between 12th-seeded Cornell and No. 4 Wisconsin.
No .3 Baylor 76, Old Dominion 68
NEW ORLEANS — As Josh Lomers ambled over to the bench after fouling out, Baylor coach Scott Drew began waving his arms, asking the crowd to show his 7-footer some love.
There was no need. The fans were already roaring their approval after the senior helped save the Bears' season.
"We needed him to come through for us," Drew said. "I think you saw a senior that didn't want to play his last game."
Lomers tied a career high with 14 points, 12 in the second half, and third-seeded Baylor withstood a firm challenge from No. 11 Old Dominion for a 76-68 victory Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
LaceDarius Dunn scored 26 points for the Bears, who squandered a 14-point first-half lead but went on a late 8-1 run to pull away.
Baylor (27-7) now heads back to its home state to play 10th-seeded Saint Mary's in Houston in the South Regional semifinals.