65ºF

NCAA basketball games in Jacksonville

While Veterans Arena gears up for Big Dance, UNF earns first tournament invite

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two NCAA basketball tournament games took place Saturday in what's been an exciting week for college hoops in the River City.

Crowds flocked downtown to the Jacksonville Memorial Area to see the UNC Tar Heels take on the Arkansas Razorbacks, and the Georgia State Panthers take on the Xavier Musketeers.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams called Thursday's win against Harvard the "luckiest" victory in his coaching career, but that changed even more after Saturday

Thursday's second-round games in Jacksonville:
UNC holds off Harvard
Georgia State stuns Baylor
Xavier beats Mississippi
Arkansas outlasts Wofford .

Fourth-seeded UNC added another Sweet 16 appearance with a victory against the Razorbacks after an 87-78 victory. The Tar Heels are now heading to Los Angeles, where they will face either Wisconsin or Oregon.

In the other match, the focus was on Georgia State's bench because of Ron Hunter, the coach's torn Achilles tendon, and the now famous stool he used to work the sidelines in the NCAA Tournament.

Saturday's third-round games in Jacksonville:
North Carolina gets past Arkansas | Xavier tends Ga. State's Cinderella run

It's was Xavier's bench, though, that stole the show in a 75-67 win that sends the Musketeers to the Sweet 16 for the third time in six seasons under coach Chris Mack.

Xavier shot 81 percent in the second half, making 13 of 16 shots. The Musketeers (23-13) were even better from the foul line, making 22 of 25 (88 percent) for the game.

Xavier heads to Los Angeles for the West Regional semifinals. They'll face No. 2 seed Arizona, who's led by former Xavier coach Sean Miller.

Jacksonville's connection to the NCAA tournament actually began a couple weeks ago with the University of North Florida en's basketball team won the Atlantic Sun conference championship and earned its first ever invitation to the "Big Dance." 

The Ospreys Played Robert Morris University in the tournament's first round in Dayton, Ohio. Despite early and halftime leads, UNF came up 4 points short of a victory, but returned home happy to have made it to the tournament and optimistic about next year.