Alabama vs. Michigan loss shatters 2017 NCAA tournament hopes

Written by By Adam Goldman, CNN

It’s not easy being the first-ever loser in a college basketball tournament game — unless you play in Alabama.

The Crimson Tide were steamrolled 108-72 by fellow No. 1 seed Michigan on Sunday night in Nashville. The Wolverines ran their nation-leading winning streak to 29 games, scoring 24 points in the first half and 34 points after halftime.

Alabama was seeking its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2014. Michigan will now play either Texas Tech or Purdue for a berth in the Final Four.

Alabama coach Avery Johnson called it “the ultimate disappointment” after the game.

“We are a young basketball team that really had aspirations of really trying to advance into the Elite Eight, and our guys are disappointed in themselves,” Johnson said. “This is about as bad a loss as I’ve ever experienced at any level. A lot of guys got to take some things to heart, and we’ll learn from it.”

But it wasn’t just his team that he was disappointed with: Kentucky should have kept a close eye on what was going on in Nashville.

The Wildcats made it to the Final Four last year after losing to eventual champion North Carolina in the Elite Eight. This year, they left Nashville on Sunday as the highest remaining seed (No. 1) in the South Region.

But the Wildcats’ campaign quickly came to an end. They lost to Texas A&M 67-55.

“You know what? They’re just real young and inexperienced, which is part of the challenge, of course,” Wildcats coach John Calipari said. “But, we just got to figure it out. We have to figure it out fast, because these guys need to play and they’re good enough to play and win, and this is not going to be in the back of our minds. We’re not going to let it affect us.”

A UCLA success story?

Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Kansas, No. 4 seed Gonzaga and No. 5 seed Indiana all made it to the regional semifinals.

The Jayhawks are currently on a perfect 10-0 run in March Madness, but are in need of a string of upsets to reach the Final Four. In the early going, they’re the top-seeded team in the Midwest Region.

Gonzaga will play No. 3 seed Cincinnati and Indiana will face No. 6 seed Loyola-Chicago in the Midwest Region semifinals.

Indiana coach Archie Miller mentioned that history — namely a Hoosiers team that lost to Princeton in 1966 — was on his team’s side.

“It’d be a great accomplishment to put ourselves in the same type of boat that the ’66 team was in and win two games,” Miller said. “But those guys we were honored to have an opportunity to play that team.”

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the highest remaining seed in the West Region.

The game against Xavier will mark the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the two schools. Xavier dropped a 74-64 game to Kentucky in the 1985 tournament, though one of the Gonzaga players on that squad died that year.

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