The Latest: N Carolina joins OK, ‘Nova, ‘Cuse in Final Four


The Latest on the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, with games Sunday in Chicago and Philadelphia (all times Eastern):

11:05 p.m.

With a wide smile, Roy Williams joined the North Carolina huddle wearing his Final Four cap sideways.

But the Tar Heels in the Final Four seems like a natural fit.

The Tar Heels hopped around, snapped selfies and mobbed each other after defeating Notre Dame 88-74 in the East Regional final on Sunday night.

North Carolina is headed to its 19th Final Four.

“How ’bout those Tar Heels!” a raspy Williams told the crowd. “That’s all I’ve got.”

Now comes the real fun: The Final Four field is set for Houston.

Oklahoma plays Villanova at 6:09 p.m. on Saturday night. North Carolina plays Syracuse roughly 40 minutes after Game 1 ends.

But first, time to cut the net. Carolina players climbed a ladder for their chance at a celebratory snip.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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10:51 p.m.

Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds and top-seeded North Carolina is headed to its 19th Final Four with a 88-74 win over Notre Dame in the East Regional final on Sunday night.

The Tar Heels are in the Final Four for the first time since they won the 2009 national championship. Coach Roy Williams is in the Final Four for the fourth time with North Carolina.

The Tar Heels will play Syracuse on Saturday in Houston. The Orange went on a huge run in the second half to beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62 earlier in the day. Villanova and Oklahoma are also in the Final Four.

Demetrius Jackson scored 26 for Notre Dame.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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10:45 p.m.

North Carolina can’t be stopped and is 3 minutes away from a 19th Final Four.

The Tar Heels have made 62 percent of their shots (31 of 50) and turned missed free throws into high-flying dunks.

The Irish have made some runs that kept the game tight.

But with a 77-67 lead at the 3-minute mark, the Tar Heels are close to cutting the nets.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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10:25 p.m.

Mike Brey wasn’t slowed by his walking boot as he strayed far from Notre Dame’s bench and screamed at the refs.

He was furious over a foul whistled against Bonzie Colson and Notre Dame received a bench warning.

North Carolina fans behind the team bench stood and howled for a T to get called against Brey.

Brey had bigger worries. Zach Auguste picked up his third foul and the Irish were burned when Isaiah Hicks had a monster put-back off a missed free throw that helped extend Carolina’s lead to 61-52 with 9:52 left.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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10:20 p.m.

North Carolina seemed to build some breathing room against Notre Dame with a nine-point lead early in the second half.

Not so fast, The Irish responded.

Demetrius Jackson keyed a Notre Dame run and the Tar Heels suffered a minor meltdown that aided the Irish run. North Carolina’s Brice Johnson was whistled for a foul, then tossed the ball high over his head in frustration, and was hit with a technical.

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia made two free throws to trim Carolina’s lead to 51-50.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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10 p.m.

Charles Barkley’s tongue-in-cheek version of “One Shining Moment” aired on the big screen. There were a couple of feel-good spots promoting good sportsmanship. The Notre Dame band played a little Bruno Mars from its spot behind a basket.

And that was about it.

The halftime show does not go on at the NCAA Tournament.

The frisbee-catching dogs were grounded. The bungee-jumping kids skipped this one. No mascot races or trampoline dunkers, either.

The North Carolina layup line with about 2 minutes left before the second half was the most excitement during the 20-minute break.

Perhaps it’s about time for halftime entertainment to return and liven up what’s become March Blandness.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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9:40 p.m.

It’s a tight one in Philly. The top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels lead Notre Dame 43-38 at halftime of the East Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

The winner plays Syracuse in the Final Four.

The teams combined to make 30 of 49 shots overall and 10 of 16 3-pointers.

Demetrius Jackson has 13 points for the Irish and Brice Johnson leads the Tar Heels with 15.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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9:30 p.m.

A packed house. Great hoops. Big games.

Basketball is fun again in Philly.

The Wells Fargo Center, site of the East Regional, has been the home of mostly dreary basketball and light crowds for Philadelphia 76ers games.

Consider, North Carolina or Notre Dame will have two wins in three days at the arena. The Sixers have six wins at home all season.

The NCAA national champion will have six wins over three weekends. The Sixers have nine over six months.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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9:20 p.m.

V.J. Beachem threw down a baseline dunk that stands among the most eye-popping of the regional rounds.

The only thing better may have been his teammates’ reaction on the bench.

Shades of the Monmouth bench, the Irish put on a show.

Zach Auguste palmed his forehead and acted like he had fainted. His teammates wrapped their arms around Auguste and tried to prop him up.

With two early fouls, the Irish could use him more on the court, though, than laughing at his GIF-worthy reaction on the bench.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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9:15 p.m.

This is Notre Dame-North Carolina? The last time these two teams played each other, the Tar Heels crushed the Irish 78-47 in the ACC Tournament semifinal just two weeks ago.

North Carolina scored 24 consecutive points over a 9 1/2-minute span bridging halftime to put the game away.

Both teams insisted the Elite Eight matchup would not be another blowout.

So far, they’re right.

The Irish led 19-18 and made 7 of 10 shots to keep this one close early.

—Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:55 p.m.

North Carolina and Notre Dame have tipped in their Elite Eight game.

The winner will face Syracuse (23-13) in the Final Four.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey joked the Irish don’t lose on Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

The Tar Heels have played in a record 18 Final Fours. The Irish are trying to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 1978.

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:50 p.m.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is wearing a walking boot on his right foot for the East Regional final.

Brey pulled a calf muscle in his right leg during Friday’s win over Wisconsin. He had the boot on Saturday and used a golf cart for transportation around the cavernous Wells Fargo Center.

Brey hoped to team doctors would let him wear his regular shoe on Sunday against top-seeded North Carolina.

“Once the game starts, I’m moving pretty good. I’ll do whatever,” Brey said Saturday. “Maybe I just need a seatbelt on the bench. I’ve got to remember I’m not the 41-year-old guy who got the job in 2000. I need to sit down more.”

— Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.

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8:20 p.m.

Malachi Richardson scored 23 points and Syracuse went on a huge run in the second half to beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62 in the Midwest Regional final of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

The Orange advanced to their first Final Four since 2013 and sixth overall thanks to a big surge down the stretch. They scored 15 straight to turn a nine-point deficit into a 64-58 lead with 3:27 remaining and hung on in the closing minutes.

Malcolm Brogdon hit two free throws for Virginia to make it 64-62 with 27 seconds left, but the Cavaliers simply couldn’t wipe out the deficit.

Syracuse’s Michael Gbinje made one of two free throws and Tyler Lydon hit two more to make it 67-62 with nine seconds left.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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8:15 p.m.

Syracuse is headed to the Final Four after being one of the last teams to make the NCAA Tournament, beating Virginia 68-62 on Sunday night.

Virginia missed a 3-pointer with the chance to tie the game with about 10 seconds left and Syracuse grabbed a rebound, making its free throws to ice the game.

Virginia is the third No. 1 seed to go down in the Elite Eight round this NCAA Tournament.

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8:03 p.m.

Syracuse is on a big run and just might be closing in on the Final Four.

The Orange have scored 15 straight to turn a nine-point deficit into a 64-58 lead with 3:27 remaining.

Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to start it. Michael Gbinije scored on a layup and Richardson converted one of his own to give Syracuse a 59-58 lead.

Richardson added another 3 and scored on a put-back with 3:27 left to make it 64-58, delighting Syracuse fans.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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7:55 p.m.

As Syracuse pushes Virginia, Notre Dame and North Carolina players are both watching while they warm up for their game in Philadelphia.

Notre Dame players are stretching on the floor with large green bands, looking upward at a large screen above the Wells Fargo Center floor showing the other Elite Eight game from Chicago.

North Carolina players are craning their necks to catch glimpses of the game as they shoot around and do warmup runs from the baseline to half court.

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7:45 p.m.

London Perrantes scored 15 points and Virginia led Syracuse 51-37 midway through the second half of the Midwest Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

Perrantes went on a tear in the first half, nailing five 3-pointers as the Cavaliers grabbed a 14-point lead. They were up 16 early in the second when the Orange started to chip away at it.

Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon cut the lead to 39-32 with a 3 just over five minutes into the half, capping a 9-2 spurt.

Virginia got it back up to double digits before Malachi Richardson nailed another one for the Orange. But the Cavaliers’ Malcolm Brogdon answered with one of his own and Darius Thompson hit from long range to make it 51-37.

That made Virginia 7 of 17 on 3s. Syracuse was 3 of 13.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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7:30 p.m.

Don’t count out the Orange just yet.

Trevor Cooney had a driving layup tipped in by an opposing player and scored on a reverse layup to pull Syracuse within 39-29 just over four minutes into the second half of the Midwest Regional final against Virginia.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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7:05 p.m.

Virginia could be just 20 minutes away from its third Final Four.

London Perrantes nailed five 3-pointers and scored 15 points to carry the top-seeded Cavaliers to a 35-21 halftime lead.

The Cavaliers missed their first six shots. Perrantes nailed a 3 to end the drought and start a barrage that saw him hit 5 of 7 from long range in the half.

He had the Virginia fans roaring in the final minute when he buried one from well beyond the top of the key to make it 35-21. And they were chanting “UVA! UVA!” as Syracuse committed a shot-clock violation in the closing seconds.

That ended a rather sloppy half that saw both teams commit seven turnovers and Syracuse struggle the whole way on offense. The Orange shot just 8 of 26 and missed 8 of 9 3-pointers, whether it was because of Virginia’s defense, a lack of calls from the officials or just being off target.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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6:50 p.m.

London Perrantes is doing all he can to lead Virginia to its third Final Four.

The junior has 12 points 4-of-6 3-point shooting, and the Cavaliers lead Syracuse 28-16 with 3:38 left in the first half on Sunday night.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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6:35 p.m.

With six turnovers apiece, Virginia and Syracuse are having trouble hanging on to the ball and it’s not because of great defense.

It’s sloppiness.

Even so, the Cavaliers lead 17-10 with 7:33 left. London Perrantes has nine points for Virginia, which is just 5 of 14 from the field.

Syracuse is 5 of 19 and 0 of 6 on 3-pointers.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.

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6:30 p.m.

London Perrantes hit two 3-pointers and top-seeded Virginia leads Syracuse 11-8 with less than 12 minutes left in the first half Sunday night.

The Cavaliers missed their first six shots and trailed 8-2 before Perrantes nailed a 3. He hit another one seven minutes into the game, and ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon added a three-point play to give Virginia an 11-8 lead.

— Andrew Seligman reporting from Chicago.