NEW: Wichita State dominates early, holds on late to beat Ohio State and advance
NEW: The No. 9 seed in the West region at one point led by 20 points, and won 70-66
Syracuse pulled ahead late to defeat Marquette by 55-39 in Washington
Playing Sunday for last two spots in Final Four: Michigan vs. Florida, Louisville vs. Duke
Wichita State used its Cinderella slipper on Saturday night to trounce Ohio State early and hold on late to advance to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, where it will be joined by Syracuse.
The Shockers, the No. 9 seed in the West region, shocked the basketball world by beating the Buckeyes 70-66 in Los Angeles. Though dominating most of the way, they had to sweat out the game’s final minutes.
Their 20-point advantage with 12 minutes to go dwindled steadily as the contest wore on, with Ohio State pulling within 5 points with just over three minutes to go.
But Wichita State was able to stave off the Buckeyes’ furious rally, thereby earning the right to play the winner of Sunday’s Louisville-Duke showdown at a national semifinal. Those will be held next week in Atlanta. Louisville is last No. 1 seed remaining in this wildly unpredictable tournament.
The Orange will be in Georgia along with them, thanks to their decisive 55-39 victory over Marquette earlier Saturday.
The two Big East foes scored a paltry 42 points, combined, in a hard-fought first half, with Syracuse entering the intermission up 24-18.
But the Orange pulled away in the second half, eventually cruising to victory before a crowd at Washington’s Verizon Center that included President Barack Obama.
Syracuse’s Final Four partner will be either Michigan or Florida, who square off Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.