NEW YORK — The first two tickets to the 2023 Final Four will be punched Saturday — one here in New York via the East Regional Championship, the other out in Las Vegas via the West Regional Championship. Both NCAA Tournamentgames figure to be close.
Saturday’s first game is Kansas State, the No. 3 seed in the East Regional, against FAU, the No. 9 seed in the East Regional, inside Madison Square Garden. Tip is scheduled for 6:09 p.m. ET, and all eyes will be on KSU’s Markquis Nowell, the 5-foot-8 Harlem native who put on a show in his hometown in Thursday’s 98-93 victory over Michigan State.
Despite a bad ankle that had to be retaped in the middle of the game, Nowell finished with 20 points and a NCAA Tournament-record 19 assists. He threw an alley-oop to Keyontae Johnson in the final minute of overtime that broke a 92-92 tie. He scored the final two points at the buzzer to secure the victory and land himself on the back pages of the New York tabloids.
“I can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now,” Nowell said. “I just know that I’m blessed and I’m grateful.”
Kansas State is listed as a 2-point favorite over FAU. With a win, the Wildcats will be in the Final Four for the first time since 1964. FAU is trying to make the Final Four for the first time in history.
Saturday’s second game is Gonzaga, the No. 3 seed in the West Regional, against UConn, the No. 4 seed in the East Regional, inside T-Mobile Arena. Tip is scheduled for 8:49 p.m. ET, and it’ll be a showdown between the two teams that have registered as the best two teams in the country since the beginning of February, according to BartTorvik.com.
UConn is listed as a 2-point favorite over Gonzaga despite being the lower-seeded team. With a win, UConn will be in the Final Four for the first time since 2014. Gonzaga is trying to make the Final Four for the third time in a six-year span.
Friday, March 24