(CNN)Gonzaga used to be the cool pick to score an upset in the early rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. In recent years, the Mark Few-coached Bulldogs have been one of the teams that could win it all.
NCAA Sweet 16: Duke, Gonzaga, Louisville, Michigan State move on
(Well, not this year, if Kentucky plays like it did Thursday).
Gonzaga started Friday night's Sweet 16 action with a convincing 74-62 victory over UCLA. It is their first time in the Elite 8 since 1999.
The Zags will meet top-seeded Duke in the South Region final Sunday after the Blue Devils shook off pesky Utah 63-57.
Michigan State, a seven seed, became the only underdog to win a Sweet 16 game, edging third-seeded Oklahoma 62-58 in an East Region game at Syracuse, New York.
The Spartans will get the other team from the commonwealth of Kentucky in the Elite 8. Louisville tripped up fellow ACC school N.C. State 75-65.
Jahlil Okafor might win the national player of the year award, but the Blue Devils need Justise Winslow to be great for Duke to be great.
The freshman from Houston enjoyed his homecoming Friday, lighting up Utah for 21 points in Duke's win. He also had 10 rebounds. Fellow freshman Tyus Jones contributed 15 points while Okafor, double-teamed all night, added six points.
Now Winslow wasn't perfect. His coach, Mike Krzyzewski, probably didn't appreciate Winslow celebrating a basket while his man was racing down court for an easy hoop.
But Utah had its own mental mistakes, at one point forgetting that the most dangerous man on the court is the guy with ball.
Brandon Taylor had 15 points for the Utes.
Sure, you can make fun of Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski.
He looks like he's in his 30s. He may or may not have been in the acclaimed HBO series "True Detective." He's as big as a Smart car.
But the man can play ball.
Karnowski, a 7-foot-1, 288-pound bulldozer from Poland, scored 18 points and had eight rebounds as the second-seeded Bulldogs pounded the Bruins in Houston. Senior guard Byron Wesley scored 14 points and freshman forward Domantas Sabonis, son of former NBA great Arvydas Sabonis, had 12 points.
Karnowski can pass, too. His behind-the-back assist to Sabonis during the run that put away the Bruins got the Zags' bench a dancin'.
Norman Powell led the Bruins with 16 points.
Do you have Michigan State and Louisville in your bracket meeting in the East Region final? Really? Pretty, pretty good picks.
But maybe we should have seen it coming. State coach Tom Izzo and the Cards' Rick Pitino always seem to have their teams at the top of their game at just the right time.
So perhaps the Spartans' close win over the Sooners wasn't a true upset. It didn't feel like one.
Travis Trice, a senior guard, and Denzel Valentine, a junior guard, combined to hit eight three-pointers to pace the Spartans. They combined for 42 of Michigan State's 62 points. They had 27 in the second half, which is also what Oklahoma scored in the second half.
Buddy Hield scored 21 points for the Sooners.
You have to hand it to Pitino. His team has struggled on offense this year. He released a key player who has since pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges. The Cardinals were bounced from the ACC Tournament quickly, losing their first game.
And yet the Cardinals are in the Elite 8.
The hard-working Montrezl Harrell scored a game-high 24 points to spark the Cardinals. Guard Terry Rozier tallied 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Trevor Lacey had 18 points to lead the Wolfpack.