- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

MEMPHIS, TENN. (AP) - Syracuse plays Oklahoma and top-seed North Carolina takes on Gonzaga in the NCAA’s South Regional semifinals. In the Midwest, top-seed Louisville plays 12th-seed Arizona and Michigan State plays defending national champion Kansas.

Top regional seeds Connecticut and Pittsburgh won their NCAA games last night but both number-two seeds, Memphis and Duke, lost.

Memphis, which reached the championship game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last season, is heading home early this time. Third-seed Missouri opened a 24-point lead and held off the second-seeded Tigers 102-91 to end the nation’s longest winning streak at 27 games. J.T. Tiller had a career-high 23 points as the Tigers reach the Elite Eight. They will play Connecticut on Saturday for the West Regional title.

Connecticut, the top seed in the West Regional, got 15 points and 15 rebounds from Hasheem Thabeet and overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Purdue 72-60. It’s the fourth time UConn has reached the Elite Eight since 2002. Robbie Hummel had 17 points for Purdue, but only two in the second half.

Pittsburgh is heading to the Elite Eight for the first time in 35 years and the Panthers have Levance Fields to thank for it. The Pitt guard hit a tiebreaking three-pointer with 50.9 seconds left and followed with a steal and a layup in the top-seeded Panthers’ 60-55 victory over fourth-seed Xavier in the East Regional semifinal. Sam Young led the Panthers with 19.

Third-seed Villanova routed second-seed Duke 77-54 to set up an all Big East Pitt-Villanova East Regional final. That’s Villanova’s first win over Duke in a half-century. Duke shot an icy 25.7 percent from the field. Dante Cunningham had 14 points and 17 boards for ‘Nova, which continued the Big East dominance in the tourney.

Big East teams are 14-2 in the NCAA tourney. Besides Pitt, Villanova and UConn, the Big East has Louisville and Syracuse still alive in tonight’s regional semifinals.

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