The 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament continued on Friday with four more Sweet 16 games taking place in Detroit and Dallas.

No. 11-seeded NC State kicked off the action with an impressive 67-58 victory over No. 2-seeded Marquette. Meanwhile, Zach Edey and the No. 1-seeded Purdue Boilermakers followed with a dominant 80-68 win over No. 5-seeded Gonzaga.

Later on, Kyle Filipowski led the No. 4-seeded Duke Blue Devils to a 54-51 win over the No. 1-seeded Houston Cougars, while Dalton Knecht helped guide No. 2-seeded Tennessee to an 82-75 victory over No. 3-seeded Creighton.

FOX Sports’ college basketball experts, John Fanta and Michael Cohen, are here to provide instant analysis of Friday’s games.

Catch up on all the action from the Sweet 16 here:

(2) Tennessee 82, (3) Creighton 75

There was a reason why, earlier this week, Creighton head coach Greg McDermott labeled Tennessee as the best defensive team his Bluejays will face this season. With all due respect to Connecticut, McDermott said, the Volunteers are a cut above. And they entered Friday’s showdown in Detroit ranked third nationally in defensive efficiency, three spots ahead of UConn.

McDermott knew this Sweet 16 matchup would be about point guard Zakai Zeigler, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, hounding his counterpart from Creighton, Steven Ashworth, to disrupt any rhythm and flow the Bluejays attempted to summon. McDermott knew his team would need to protect the ball and shoot efficiently against a defense with the fourth-best effective field goal percentage (45%) in the country. McDermott knew his team needed to play with toughness if it wanted to reach the Elite Eight in back-to-back seasons.

The cruel irony of the 18-0 run that doomed Creighton is that it had little to do with Tennessee’s offense. Sure, Dalton Knecht was responsible for six of those points and his teammates buried two 3-pointers to support him midway through the second half. But the Bluejays’ undoing was largely self-inflicted, and it came on the other end of the floor: McDermott’s team turned it over three times and missed six consecutive shots in a four-minute span to crack, crater and crumble. A late surge trimmed the Volunteers’ advantage to four, but was never enough to reclaim the lead.

Knecht finished with a team-high 24 points, and Ziegler added 18 points and six assists to lead Tennessee to an 82-75 victory over Creighton.

For Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes, this marks his first trip to the Elite Eight since he brought Texas that far in 2008. And it’s just the second time in school history that the Volunteers have earned a chance to reach the Final Four.

Waiting to meet them is top-seeded Purdue, which disposed of Gonzaga earlier Friday evening. Finding ways to contain All-American center Zach Edey will require Tennessee’s most stifling defensive effort yet.

– Michael Cohen

(4) Duke 54, (1) Houston 51

With 6:38 on the clock in the first half and Houston up 16-10, Jamal Shead drove on the fast break and turned his ankle. The Big 12 Player of the Year and first-team All-American went down in a heap of pain, and you could feel the life get sucked out of the Houston bench and the sea of red in the stands. The Blue Devils caught a big break, the door opened wide, Shead did not return, and 36-year-old Jon Scheyer is suddenly going to the Elite Eight in his second year on the job. 

Duke escaped with a win against Houston, 54-51, as Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach combined for 30 points. With the victory, the Blue Devils advance to Sunday’s All-ACC South Regional Final against NC State in one of the more unexpected NCAA Tournament developments one could have predicted. For a second straight night, the top-two seeds went down in a region, as No. 2-seeded Marquette fell to the Wolfpack.

The Blue Devils only managed six points in the final five and a half minutes of the game, but that’s part of playing the Cougars. Houston missed its senior point guard down the stretch, as Shed averages over 13 points and six assists per game.

With Duke holding onto a 52-48 lead with 90 seconds remaining in the game, Roach – who is a senior and played a key role in the program’s Final Four run two years ago – showed his experience and poise with a jumper in the lane to extend the lead to six. That was just enough for Duke to hang on.

After his 30-point performance against Texas A&M in the Round of 32, Emanuel Sharp only had seven points on 2-of-7 shooting from the floor. With Shead out, LJ Cryer became the focal point of Duke’s defensive scheme. The Blue Devils held Cryer to 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.

Duke’s win sets up a dream Sunday for the ACC, which is now 11-2 in the NCAA Tournament and is guaranteed to have at least one Final Four team. 

– John Fanta

(1) Purdue 80, (5) Gonzaga 68

Knowing that his All-American center, Zach Edey, had decided to remain in school, Purdue head coach Matt Painter entered the offseason intent on surrounding the big man with a collection of deadeye shooters. Edey had done enough to guide the Boilermakers to a No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament. But when the first-round matchup with 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson finally arrived, everyone around Edey let him down. Purdue shot just 5-for-26 from beyond the arc in a stunning 63-58 loss. It was the third consecutive season in which Painter’s team was upended by a double-digit seed.

And so began the summer of shooting in West Lafayette, Indiana, where Purdue added Southern Illinois transfer Lance Jones (205 made 3s in four seasons) and honed the skills of fellow marksmen Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer and Mason Gillis. The Boilermakers improved from 276th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage during the 2022-23 campaign (32.2%) to No. 1 nationally this season (40.9%). Painter did everything he could to ensure Edey’s last ride wouldn’t end because the perimeter well ran dry for a second consecutive year.

His strategy worked beautifully during a Sweet 16 matchup with No. 5 Gonzaga on Friday night as Purdue shot 7-for-13 from beyond the arc in the opening half of an eventual 80-68 win. Smith, Loyer, Gillis and Jones all buried two 3-pointers apiece to give the Boilermakers a plus-nine advantage in perimeter shooting. And once Purdue had gashed the Bulldogs from the perimeter, Painter and his staff turned to Edey and Co. on the interior to rack up 28 points in the paint after halftime. Smith orchestrated it all beautifully with 14 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds. Edey finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds.

The win pushes the Boilermakers into the Elite Eight for the first time since 2019 and just the second time in the last two decades. They’ll face the winner of No. 2 Tennessee and No. 3 Creighton for a chance to reach the Final Four — a place Purdue hasn’t visited in more than 40 years. Edey’s last ride continues.

– Michael Cohen

(11) NC State 67, (2) Marquette 58

This edition of March Madness might not have a mid-major Cinderella, but there is a stunning story with a program-rich tradition that has come out of nowhere to crash the Big Dance.

For the first time since the days of the late Jim Valvano, in 1986, the NC State Wolfpack are going to the Elite Eight. The thought of this happening was unfathomable just 17 days ago when this program was 17-14 and trailing at the half to lowly Louisville in the opening round of the ACC Tournament. Fast-forward to Friday night, and Kevin Keatts has the Wolfpack just 40 minutes away from the program’s first Final Four appearance in 41 years. 

NC State’s magical run continued with a 67-58 win over Marquette on Friday night. The team’s experienced backcourt of DJ Horne and Casey Morsell combined for 34 points, while Mohamed Diarra continued to be the Wolfpack’s X-factor with 11 points and 15 rebounds. 

As for Marquette, nerves were a major factor. The Golden Eagles, making their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2013, shot just 4-for-31 from 3-point territory, never really finding a rhythm offensively and leaving with a disappointing result in what was a golden opportunity. The ACC continues to be the story of the Big Dance with two teams in the Elite Eight and a 10-2 record overall. 

NC State will advance to play the winner of Duke or Houston on Sunday, so an all-ACC regional final is in play.

– John Fanta

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John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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