It looked, for a few early moments, like women’s college basketball was in for a seismic upset.
South Carolina, the overall No. 1 seed and odds-on favorite to win the N.C.A.A. tournament, was trailing eighth-seeded South Florida, 16-12, after one quarter. The Gamecocks were hitting less than 36 percent of their shots and had committed five turnovers. South Florida was playing like it wasn’t afraid of the reigning champion.
But the game is 40 minutes, not 10.
After the rocky start, more of South Carolina’s shots started falling, and the Gamecocks raised the defensive pressure considerably on the Bulls. South Carolina pulled ahead by 4 points at halftime and then hit the gas in the second half, running away with the 76-45 victory.
Forward Aliyah Boston said in a postgame TV interview that the slow start was a product of South Florida’s defensive intensity.
“We were just trying to figure them out a little bit,” she said.
And they did. South Carolina moved the ball freely in the second half and committed just four turnovers, while holding South Florida to just 7 points in the third quarter and 9 in the fourth.
Elena Tsineke led the early charge for South Florida with 7 points in the first. She finished with a team-high 20.
Guard Zia Cooke paced South Carolina with 21 points. Boston added 11 points and 11 rebounds for her 81st career double-double. The team’s depth was also on display, with 14 players hitting the floor and 11 of them scoring.
The Gamecocks pushed their record to 34-0 and will play in the round of 16 for the ninth consecutive tournament. — Sara Ziegler
Xavier avoided a misstep against a Pitt team on a roll.
One element of the N.C.A.A. tournaments that emerges with so many teams playing simultaneously and in rapid succession: No program wants to end up a cautionary example in their bracket, and sometimes a team takes out that sentiment on its opponent.
That was how No. 3 seed Xavier approached Pittsburgh, a No. 11 seed that had come into the Sunday matchup looking like it had a fresh mandate after sneaking into the field, then winning a play-in game and dispatching Iowa State with ease in the first round.
Ultimately that was all just fodder for the Musketeers, who got spooked by Kennesaw State in a first-round game early Friday afternoon and then watched over the next 48 hours as so many big programs — Purdue, Duke, Kansas — faltered.
They took that out on the Panthers, running up the score by playing well down low, passing skillfully and steeling themselves for a run, much like a tennis or boxing mismatch in which one side wants to dominate by directly rattling and outmaneuvering their opponent.
So when Pitt had its one good run late, to get within 8 points with less than two minutes left, it was too little too late to stop Xavier from advancing to the round of 16, 84-73, and looking strong while doing it. — Oskar Garcia
Matchups to Watch
No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 7 Michigan State
5:15 p.m., CBS
Marquette used a balanced offensive attack in its first-round game to dispatch No. 15-seeded Vermont, 78-61, with five players in double figures. The win was the first in the N.C.A.A. tournament for the Golden Eagles since 2013, when they reached the round of 8. Michigan State’s win on Friday over No. 10-seeded Southern California was its 15th in that same period, in which the Spartans went to two Final Fours (though didn’t win a game in either one). Michigan State lost an early lead against the Trojans but recovered for a 72-62 win.
No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson
7:45 p.m., TruTV
After Fairleigh Dickinson’s stunning upset of Purdue, a No. 1 seed, we’ve been soaking up information about the school in Teaneck, N.J. The Knights won only four games last season and didn’t win their conference tournament this year; they needed to win a First Four game before they even had a chance to face Purdue; they’re the shortest team in Division I. But no matter: F.D.U. owns the second win by a No. 16 seed over a No. 1 seed in men’s tournament history, and now it has a chance to get further than any 16 seed ever has. Standing in its way is Florida Atlantic, which survived a back-and-forth game against Memphis by hitting the go-ahead basket with 2.5 seconds left.
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 7 Arizona
5:30 p.m., ESPN
Maryland made light work of No. 15-seeded Holy Cross in the first round, jumping out to a 23-4 start en route to the 93-61 victory. The Terrapins got double-digit scoring efforts from five players, led by 18 off the bench from guard Brinae Alexander. Arizona Coach Adia Barnes has her team back in the round of 32 for the third consecutive year after a 75-62 win over West Virginia on Friday. Cate Reese scored 25, and Esmery Martinez had 13 points and 12 rebounds playing against her former team. The Wildcats lost last year in the second round, but the year before, they made it to the Final Four.
No. 2 Utah vs. No. 10 Princeton
7 p.m., ESPN2
Princeton needed nearly every second of Friday’s game to pull off the upset. The Tigers got a 3-pointer from Grace Stone with 4.7 seconds left to complete their comeback win over seventh-seeded North Carolina State, which was held without a point for the final 5:43 of the game. Princeton has made the round of 32 for the second consecutive year. It will face Utah, which hit the century mark Friday in a 103-77 win over Gardner-Webb. The Utes were led by forward Alissa Pili’s 33 points, a career high for the transfer from Southern California.
No. 3 L.S.U. vs. No. 6 Michigan
7:30 p.m., ESPN
L.S.U. took a while to jell offensively in its 73-50 win over 14th-seeded Hawaii on Friday, but even cold shooting couldn’t slow down the Tigers. Forward Angel Reese scored 34 points and added 15 rebounds for her 29th double-double on the season. Michigan was hot out of the gate in its first-round game against U.N.L.V., leading 17-9 after the first quarter. Forward Emily Kiser and guard Maddie Nolan each had 18 points for the Wolverines, while guard Leigha Brown poured in 17.