NCAA tournament Sweet 16 scores: Alabama, Clemson pull off upsets on Thursday

The Sweet 16 has arrived with a loaded slate of matchups. Sure, the first weekend of the men's NCAA tournament was fairly chalky, with few major upsets, but that's left us with an array of juicy matchups as we get deeper into the tournament.

The second wave of the tourney began Thursday with the West and East regionals, and they did not disappoint. No. 4 Alabama and No. 6 Clemson both pulled off upsets, knocking out North Carolina and Arizona to shake up the West region. In the East region, top-seeded UConn flattened No. 5 San Diego State in a rematch of last year's national title game and No. 3 Illinois held on to beat No. 2 Iowa State.

Sweet 16 Thursday scores

Thursday, Mar. 28 (all times Eastern)

No. 6 Clemson 77, No. 2 Arizona 72

No. 1 UConn 82, No. 5 San Diego State 52

No. 4 Alabama 89, No. 1 North Carolina 87

No. 3 Illinois 72, No. 2 Iowa State 69

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    Final: Illinois 72, Iowa State 69

    The Illini advance to play top-seeded UConn. Terrence Shannon continues his blazing-hot run in the tournament with 29 points and 5 rebounds.

  • That's the game. Terrance Shannon ices the win with a pair of free throws, and Illinois advances to the Elite Eight with a 72-69 win. It's the first Elite Eight for Illinois since Deron Williams and Dee Brown led a run to the national championship game in 2005.

  • A gift from the Illini. They foul Curtis Jones on a 3-pointer, put an excellent shooter on the line with 9.9 seconds remaining. He hits all 3. Illinois leads, 70-67.

  • What a play by Terrance Shannon. He picks off an errant pass for a wide-open transition dunk. Illinois leads, 70-64 with 15.7 seconds left. 27 points for the Illinois All-American.

  • We've got a one-possession game with 43.5 seconds remaining. Iowa State's Curtis Jones cuts the Illinois lead to 67-64 with a layup. Illinois has the ball at a timeout.

  • Another big play from Terrance Shannon. Gets to the line with a strong drive to the bucket with 1:10 remaining. But he goes 1 of 2 at the line. Illinois leads, 67-62.

  • Big swing in Boston. Tre King missed a wide-open alley-oop layup for Iowa State, and Dain Dainja dunked on the other end to extend Illinois' lead to 64-58. Inside 3 minutes remaining.

  • Here's Nelson's block to end the game:

  • Illinois now leads Iowa State 55-51 with 5:38 to go. Marcus Domask is heading to the free throw line to attempt to complete a 3-point play.

    Terrence Shannon Jr. is coming back into the game with four fouls.

  • Again, that's No. 4 seed Alabama and No. 6 seed Clemson set to square off in the Elite Eight. They knocked No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 2 seed Arizona out of the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles.

  • What a game by Grant Nelson. The senior transfer from North Dakota State finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, including a block of Harrison Ingram's desperation heave in the final second.

  • Alabama's in the Elite Eight for the first time in 20 years. The Tide will face Clemson with a trip to the Final Four at stake.

  • That's it. Alabama wins 89-87 to send No. 1 seed North Carolina home early.

  • Final: Alabama 89, UNC 87

    The Tide pull off the second upset of the night in LA, knocking off No. 1 UNC to advance to the Elite Eight and play Clemson for a spot in the Final Four. Four different Crimson Tide players finish with 18+ points. Grant Nelson leads the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

  • Grant Nelson's back on the free-throw line with 0.9 seconds remaining and Alabama leading, 89-87. This one's all but over.

  • In Boston, Iowa State has gotten within four with Terrence Shannon Jr. on the bench with four fouls. Illinois leads 53-49 at the under-8 timeout.

  • Grant Nelson hits two free throws to extend Alabama's lead to 89-85 with eight seconds remaining. UNC is on the ropes.

  • Alabama has the ball and an 87-85 lead with 7.6 seconds remaining. Excellent defensive sequence on UNC's RJ Davis by Grant Nelson forces a bad shot and a shot-clock violation.

  • Brutal sequence for UNC's Jae'Lyn Withers. Takes and misses a bad 3, then fouls Grant Nelson on the other end for an and-1. Alabama leads 87-85 with 35.3 seconds remaining.

  • Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. just got his fourth foul with 11:17 to go

  • Make it six-straight RJ Davis points with two free throws to put UNC up, 85-82. 1:32 remaining.

  • A 6-0 North Carolina run has UNC back on top, 83-82 win the final two minutes. RJ Davis with four-straight points.

  • Illinois has done a great job of weathering Iowa State's push. Coleman Hawkins has come up big so far in the second half. He has 12 points and six rebounds.

    The Illini lead Iowa State 51-43 with 11:29 to go.

  • Alabama's responding to RJ Davis' misses with makes on the other end. Grant Nelson's 3-pointer puts Alabama up, 82-77 with 3:44 remaining.

  • RJ Davis just matched Caleb Love from 3-point distance. He's 0 for 9 from deep on the same night his former teammate put up the same line in Arizona's loss to Clemson.

  • Alabama is relentless. The Tar Heels left Aaron Estrada open on the wing, and he made them pay with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 75-75.

  • Alabama's Nick Pringle is playing with a bruised heel. He's struggling to move on defense.

  • Iowa State has gotten itself back into the game at the start of the second half. The Cyclones made their first five shots of the half as they've cut Illinois' lead to 41-36 at the under-16 timeout.

    Keshon Gilbert had four of those buckets for Iowa State.

  • Alabama's responding to made North Carolina shots with a fast-break pace. A North Carolina team that made its identity on defense this season is struggling to get back.

  • Now we're trading blows like the first half. Seven-straight possessions without a missed shots has UNC leading 70-67 with 8:10 remaining. Alabama responded to an Armando Bacot dunk with a Rylan Griffen 3-pointer to cap the hot run by both teams.

  • Little-used Paxson Wojcik comes up with a big 3 for Carolina to curb the UNC scoring funk. The first made 3 of the half for Carolina puts UNC up 66-61. The senior Brown transfer has averaged 0.8 points in 8.2 minutes per game this season.

  • North Carolina's 2 for 17 in the second half after a 54-point first half. Regression hits hard.

  • Alabama's back on top. A Sam Walters 3-pointer gives the Tide a 59-57 edge. A 13-3 run by Alabama to start the second half.

  • UNC center Armando Bacot just picked up his third foul with 14:45 remaining. Heading to the bench.

  • North Carolina's scored a single free throw 4:30 into the second half. Still leads, 55-52.

  • Illinois has a 36-26 lead on Iowa State at halftime despite a horrific shooting night from the free-throw line so far. The Illini are 7 of 16 from the line. This could easily be a 15-point lead. That's how well Illinois has played in every other facet of the game.

    Iowa State is just 6 of 23 from inside the 3-point line. If that rebounds in the second half, the Cyclones have a chance.

  • After a 100-point first half, Alabama and UNC are both struggling to score early in the second. We've got just two points — by Alabama — 2:30 into the second half.

  • Illinois leads 30-20 over Iowa State at the under-4 timeout. Terrence Shannon Jr. has 14 points, though Iowa State has shown some signs of life.

    Tamin Lipsey has six points for the Cyclones to go with Curtis Jones' 11.

  • Illinois is getting everything to fall tonight.

  • Curtis Jones is doing his best to keep Iowa State in the game. Jones has 11 of Iowa State's 12 points after coming off the bench as the Cyclones trail 21-12. Keshon Gilbert's free throw is the only point scored by an ISU player who isn't Jones.

  • The Tar Heels close the half on an 11-2 run and look like the better team tonight, but the Tide are hanging around. Alabama's trio of guards all has more than 10 points already as UNC is up 8 at the break.

  • Terrence Shannon Jr. has nine points on three 3-pointers. Iowa State has six points. Illinois leads 16-6 as the Cyclones aren't taking great shots and can't get anything to fall at the moment. ISU is 2 of 12 from the field.

  • These teams aren't having any trouble finding the net tonight.

  • Illinois has jumped out to an 11-2 lead over Iowa State at the first TV timeout of the game. Terrence Shannon has hit two 3-pointers as Illinois has made moving the ball — and moving it quickly — a clear priority at the start.

  • Meanwhile, Illinois and Iowa State has tipped and the Illini are up early in a fun clash of styles.

  • Sound advice.

  • Now it's Alabama's turn as Grant Nelson drills a 3.

  • Cormac Ryan has also found the mark early. UNC now has a 19-14 lead with 13 minutes left in the first half.

  • A back-and-forth start with Alabama sees North Carolina take a 12-7 edge into the first media timeout. Elliot Cadeau — a pass-first point guard — is the surprise leading scorer with five points and a rare early 3-pointer.