Two of the four top seeded U.S. college basketball teams, Kentucky and Texas, advanced easily in their respective regions in the first round of the national championship tournament, otherwise marked Friday by upsets and near misses.
In the Midwest Region, the Kentucky Wildcats defeated Indiana University-Purdue University,Indianapolis (IUPUI), 95-64. Later, ninth-seed Utah downed number eight Oregon, 60-58.
Also in the Midwest, second-seed Pittsburgh rolled to an 87-61 win over Wagner, and seventh-seed Indiana topped 10th-seed Alabama, 67-62, on a game decided in the closing seconds.
In the South Region, the Texas Longhorns scored an 82-61 win over North Carolina-Asheville. Meanwhile, the defending national champion and sixth-seed Maryland Terrapins narrowly escaped elimination, slipping past 11th-seed North Carolina-Wilmington, 75-73, on a three-point shot by Drew Nicholas at the buzzer.
Also in the South, second-seed Florida routed Sam Houston State, 85-55, third-seed Xavier beat number-14 Troy State, 71-59, and seventh-seed Michigan State dismissed Colorado, 79-64. Ninth-seed Purdue defeated Louisiana State, 80-56.
Moving to the East Region, 10th-seed Auburn scored an upset over seventh-seed Saint Joseph's, 65-63, in overtime.
In another upset, the 12th-seeded Butler Bulldogs of Indianapolis knocked off fifth-seed Mississippi State, 47-46.
Second seed Wake Forest survived a scare from a determined 15th seeded East Tennessee State team, 76-73.
Also in the East, number three Syracuse defeated Manhattan, 76-65, and sixth-seed Oklahoma State knocked off Pennsylvania, 77-63. Fourth-seed Louisville beat Austin Peay 86-64.
Action continues in the single-elimination tournament Saturday and Sunday, with second-round games that will narrow the field to 16 teams.
The championship game is April 7 in New Orleans, Louisiana.