Here we go again for Michigan State. Make it to the NCAA tournament, prepare for any possibility in the first two games, and then focus on the next stop.
It's a March tradition for Tom Izzo and the Spartans.
Gary Harris scored 16 of his career-high 23 points in the first half and third-seeded Michigan State pulled away for a 70-48 victory over sixth-seeded Memphis on Saturday at Auburn Hills, Mich., putting the Izzo-led program in the regional semifinals for the fifth time in six years and the 11th time in his career.
The Spartans (27-8) will play the winner of today's Duke-Creighton game on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Michigan State and the winner of today's Kansas-North Carolina game are the only schools to make it to the round of 16 five times in the last six years, according to STATS LLC. Date it back a little more, and the Spartans and Blue Devils are the only teams to make it to the regional semifinals in at least 10 of the last 15 seasons.
"The way it's changed since 2000 is, a high seed used to get you out of the first weekend," Izzo said. "Now it barely gets you out of the first game, as we're all seeing."
Izzo improved to 18-3 in the second game at an NCAA tournament site, proving again he gets his players prepared to play very well with only one day to prepare.
The Spartans' top post players — Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix — combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds. Payne had a career-high five blocks, boosting his stock if he skips his senior season to enter the NBA draft.
Lew Wallace graduate Branden Dawson registered six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two points for the Spartans.
The Tigers (31-5) advanced in the NCAA tournament for the first time in Josh Pastner's four seasons. Memphis' Geron Johnson scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half, and Joe Jackson finished with 12 points.
Keith Appling made his first and only shot to put Michigan State up by nine points with 13:17 to go, but the team's leading scorer left for good five minutes later when his right shoulder took the brunt of Johnson's drive into the lane.
Appling said he'll be ready to play in the next round.
"It was very painful, but I could've gone back in if I had to," he said.
Before Appling was hurt, he had a towel thrown at him by Nix, his teammate since high school, in a heated huddle during a timeout.
"It was just miscommunication with the ball screen and stuff, so we went at it," Nix said. "That's my best friend. I love him to death. I treat him like a little brother. We're over it. We won the game and let it go."
No. 1 Louisville 82, No. 8 Colorado State 56: Russ Smith had another big night, leading four players in double figures with 27 points, and top-seeded Louisville (31-5) reached the Midwest Region semifinals.
It was the 12th straight win for Louisville, which will play Oregon on Friday in Indianapolis.
No. 12 Oregon 74, No. 4 Saint Louis 57: Damyean Dotson scored 23 points; Carlos Emory added 14 points, and hot-shooting Oregon sprinted past Saint Louis at San Jose, Calif.
Dotson made his first five 3-pointers to carry the 12th-seeded Ducks (28-8) into the second weekend for the first time since 2007, when they lost to eventual repeat champion Florida in the regional final.
Kwamain Mitchell scored 18 points and Dwayne had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Billikens (28-7), who set a school record for wins this season following the death of coach Rick Majerus in December.
No. 3 Marquette 74, No. 6 Butler 72: Vander Blue scored 19 second-half points to rally Marquette out of another hole, and the Golden Eagles survived Butler to reach the Round of 16.
Like November's first meeting between the teams at the Maui Invitational, won 72-71 by Butler on Rotnei Clarke's buzzer-beating 3-pointer, this was a back-and-forth, high-intensity affair, that came down to the final shot. Only this time, Butler missed. Clarke's 24 points led Butler (28-9).
No. 9 Wichita State 76, No. 1 Gonzaga 70: Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker scored 16 points apiece, and Wichita State hit a season-high 14 3-pointers, including seven straight late, to knock top-ranked Gonzaga out of the NCAA tournament.
The Shockers (28-8) advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006, while Gonzaga becomes the first top seed to be eliminated.
Wichita State had the Zags down 13 early. Though Gonzaga (32-3) fought back, the barrage of 3s was too much for the small school from Spokane, Wash.
Kelly Olynyk scored 26 points to lead Gonzaga, and Kevin Pangos had 19.
No. 6 Arizona 74, No. 14 Harvard 51: Arizona put an emphatic end to Harvard's March Madness success story in Salt Lake City. Mark Lyons matched his career high with 27 points to lead the Wildcats (27-7).
Kenyatta Smith led Harvard (20-10) with 10 points. Freshman Siyani Chambers lost part of his front tooth after Arizona's Kevin Parrom elbowed him in the face.