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    The number of college athletes who are monetizing their social media followings has grown over the past 18 months. The NCAA cleared the way for athletes to cash in on their celebrity in July 2021. Many of those influencers are female athletes. Some say they are aware their growing popularity can draw attention from fans who may overstep their bounds.

      Angel Reese had 18 rebounds and LSU returned to the women’s Final Four for the first time in 15 years by beating Miami 54-42. The victory concludes a rapid rise for the Tigers under second-year coach Kim Mulkey, who won three NCAA titles at Baylor. Alexis Morris scored 21 points and Reese added 13 for the third-seeded Tigers (32-2), who asserted control of a grinding, defense-first game.

        KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jordan Miller and Isaiah Wong rallied Miami from a 13-point second-half deficit, Norchad Omier made two big free throws and an even more important steal down the stretch, and the fifth-seeded Hurricanes stunned No. 2 seed Texas 88-81 on Sunday to reach the Final Four for the first time in school history.

          Florida Atlantic has defied expectation and description all season. The winningest team in Division I, but the lowest seed left in the NCAA Tournament, is heading to the Final Four with a squad that is greater than the sum of its interchangeable parts. To win four tournament games so far, each by single digits, has taken contributions from up and down FAU’s roster. 

            Dan Hurley got choked up when asked about his dad on the eve of UConn’s Sweet 16 game. Tears flowed again before the Huskies’ Elite Eight game, this time from thinking about what he considers his other family. Now Hurley will get to coach them at least one more game, next week in Houston. UConn has blitzed its way through the bracket so far, winning each of its four NCAA Tournament games by at least 15 points.

            Alijah Martin, Vlad Goldin and ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic became the first and lowest-seeded team to reach this year’s Final Four. The Owls withstood another huge game by Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell to beat the Wildcats 79-76. FAU, making just its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, won the East Region at Madison Square Garden and will head to Houston to play the winner of Sunday’s South Region final between Creighton and San Diego State.

            Aaliyah Boston had eight points, 14 rebounds and two blocks while reigning national champion South Carolina turned in its latest overwhelming defense-and-rebounding-first performance to beat UCLA 59-43 on Saturday in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament. Kamilla Cardoso added 10 points for the Gamecocks, the top overall tournament seed. Plus more games from the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

            Will Yoakum scored 31 points, Dallas Graziani added 24 points, nine assists and three steals and top-ranked Nova Southeastern beat West Liberty 111-101 to win the first NCAA Division II national championship in program history. The Sharks, who went 33-1 last season with their lone loss coming in the Elite 8, became just the sixth undefeated team to win the title.

            Creighton and San Diego State have dreamed of being in this situation for years. And it’s not the first time each team has stood in the other’s way. The sixth-seeded Bluejays and the fifth-seeded Aztecs are each seeking their first Final Four when they meet in Sunday’s South Region final. Last year, they met much earlier in the NCAA Tournament. Creighton won 72-69 in overtime in the first round. 

            Texas is aiming for its first trip to the Final Four in 20 years, and Miami is seeking the first in school history. The teams will meet in the Midwest Region final of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. The Longhorns have rallied around interim coach Rodney Terry, who took over in December following Chris Beard's suspension and later firing. But the Big 12 tourney champs could be without star big man Dylan Disu, who is dealing with a foot injury. 

            Miami is putting its reputation as a football school on the back burner. Basketball is now front and The men's and women's teams in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight. The ninth-seeded men meet No. 2 seed Texas on Sunday. The fifth-seeded women face No. 3 seed LSU. Women's coach Katie Meier says the programs have a lot in common and are competitive like siblings.

            March has gone from madness to unprecedented. With Miami’s win over Houston and San Diego State’s takedown of Alabama, the men's NCAA Tournament will not have a No. 1 seed in the Elite Eight for the first time since seeding began in 1979. Purdue, Kansas, Houston and Alabama are all gone, ensuring the Final Four will not have a No. 1 team for the first time since 2011 and the third time overall.

            Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominant defensive performance to knock top overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament, bottling up All-America freshman Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16. Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose outstanding season was marred by off-the-court complications, was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.


            GREENVILLE, S.C. — Alexis Morris hit two foul shots with 10 seconds to play as third-seeded LSU reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008 by beating No. 2 Utah 66-63 on Friday.

            To get a sense of where Kansas State and Florida Atlantic sit in college basketball’s hierarchy before they play in the Elite Eight, look at their transfers. The Wildcats have nine players who previously played at other Division I schools, several of whom were productive multi-year starters in mid-major conferences. Most notable among them is Markquis Nowell, the 5-foot-8 point guard who put on the performance of the NCAA Tournament in an overtime victory against Michigan State. FAU’s transfers arrived at the Boca Raton, Florida, school after compiling thinner resumes at programs in the so-called power conferences.

            Gonzaga has a short turnaround to face a physical opponent coming off an emotional win. That didn't go so well the last time. The Zags beat UCLA on a buzzer beater in the 2021, then got manhandled by Baylor in the national title game two days later. Gonzaga faces a similar challenge against UConn after another dramatic win over the Bruins. The Huskies are big, physical and playing like a team that can win a national championship. But the Zags have been this far before, reaching the Final Four twice in the past five NCAA Tournaments. UConn hasn't been to the Final Four since winning the 2014 national title.

            Cinderella is no stranger at the NCAA Tournament. From George Mason to VCU to Loyola of Chicago, there are some scintillating Final Four runs that keep hope alive for the little guys. Winning a national title is a far taller mountain to climb. So daunting, in fact, that not one of our beloved underdogs has done it. Not even Loyola, which seemingly had a higher power on its side. Which brings us to Florida Atlantic, a school that finds itself in the midst of one of those magical runs. Will they be the team that finally breaks through?

            High-top basketball shoes aren't as common a sight on the college basketball floor these days. The footwear most players are lacing up in the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments are some version of a low-top sneaker, with a few mid-cut styles thrown in. 

            Markquis Nowell broke the NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game with 19, his last two on spectacular passes in the final minute of overtime, and Kansas State beat Michigan State 98-93 in a Sweet 16 thriller at Madison Square Garden. Playing in his hometown and fighting through a second-half ankle injury, Nowell found Keyontae Johnson for a reverse alley-oop with 58 seconds left in OT to give the Wildcats  the lead for good. Plus more news from the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

            Alabama was expected to be in the Sweet 16 as the overall top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Few thought the teams standing between the Crimson Tide and a trip to the Final Four would be No. 5 seed San Diego State, sixth-seeded Creighton and 15th-seeded Princeton. A win over Alabama could elevate any of those schools to the status of March Madness legend.

            Iowa State was quick to say that its miserable shooting performance in the NCAA Tournament had nothing to do with some wonky rims in Greensboro, North Carolina. Nevertheless, the Cyclones were among the many teams that struggled during the opening weekend, especially from the 3-point line.

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