NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Duke

You hear that sweet, pure humming noise? You feel that steady and undeniable crescendo of tension? That's the sound and the feel of March Madness beckoning -- and folks, it is closer than you think. 

The college basketball regular season officially came to an end on Saturday across the country with surprise stacked upon surprise to close out a wonderful 2023-24 and to help ring in the postseason. 

Among the surprises from the day that was, No. 1 Houston handed Kansas its biggest loss of the season in blowing out the Jayhawks by a 30-burger. It was the fewest points for KU in a conference game since 2000 and its fewest points in a game all season. The win -- and an Iowa State loss to K-State -- helped Houston secure the outright Big 12 title in its first season with the league. 

Speaking of blowouts: Villanova was on the receiving end of one … until it wasn't. At home vs. No. 10 Creighton in a must-win game for its NCAA Tournament hopes, the Wildcats trailed 32-8 -- by 24 points (!) -- just 10 minutes into action. That was a stunner. What was more stunning was Nova bouncing all the way back to tie things in the final minute -- only to lose on a last-second shot.

The highs and lows of March are here and in full force already, so to recap the day that was, we have as always assembled the day's biggest winners and losers all in easily digestible sections below.

Winner: UNC wins ACC outright, eyes No. 1 seed

No. 7 North Carolina charged into hostile territory and emerged victorious in glorious fashion, downing No. 9 Duke 84-79 at Cameron Indoor Stadium to sweep the regular-season series and in the process claim the ACC regular season title outright. The Tar Heels' win was their sixth straight to close the season on a high note and give them the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament. 

It's a remarkable story for UNC, which was picked to finish third in the ACC in the preseason behind Duke and Miami, and which saw its season end last year with a missed NCAA Tournament after being ranked as the preseason No. 1.

With the victory, UNC edges closer to catching Tennessee as the fourth No. 1 seed, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. 

"UNC is pushing Tennessee for that spot and is closer after the Tar Heels won at Duke, completing the season sweep of the Blue Devils," Palm said.  

-- Kyle Boone

Loser: Filipowski gets caught

Subtle pokes and jabs and pricks are part of the game of basketball — incidental contact, we'll call it — but what Duke's Kyle Filipowski did Saturday was decidedly not that. And he was busted, too.

In the first half vs. UNC, Filipowski lifted and extended his right leg to purposefully — and successfully — trip Tar Heels forward Harrison Ingram. The move was not whistled in live action nor was the play reviewed, but the eye in the sky doesn't lie. -- Boone

Winner: USC upsets Arizona

USC saved its best performance of the season for last. The Trojans upset No. 5 Arizona 78-65 for the program's first top-5 win since 2008. USC held Arizona's second-ranked scoring offense to a season-low in points. The Trojans finished 10th in the conference standings and could parlay this performance into a magical run at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas next week. USC forward DJ Rodman, the son of NBA legend Dennis Rodman, scored a game-high 19 points. -- Salerno

Winner: Mountain West delivers again

The Mountain West has delivered compelling action all season, habitually producing close games with dramatic finishes. That trend continued in No. 22 Utah State's 87-85 win over New Mexico, when Darius Brown II hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with just 4.3 seconds remaining to put the Aggies ahead 87-84. It was part of a prolific offensive half for USU, which hit 64% of its shots after trailing 44-39 at the break. New Mexico entered as one of the "Last Four in" the projected NCAA Tournament field, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. It was a tough loss, but if the Lobos can regroup at next week's conference tournament, they could be among a contingent of six MWC teams to reach the Big Dance. -- Cobb

Winner: Houston gets payback from KU beatdown

Just a little over one month removed from a 13-point beatdown at the hands of Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, No. 1 Houston returned the favor – and then some – in a stunning 76-46 beatdown of the No. 14 Jayhawks in Houston. Houston led by as many as 32 points in a game that was seemingly over before it began. The win extended Houston's nation-leading home winning streak to 22 games and in the process helped the Coogs clinch the outright Big 12 championship. (Though by virtue of No. 6 Iowa State's loss to Kansas State earlier in the afternoon, Houston had already clinched as much.) What a showing from Houston to close out a stellar regular season in its first with the Big 12. -- Boone

Winner: Morehead State clinches a bid

Morehead State clinched the first NCAA Tournament bid of the month when it topped No. 1 seed Little Rock 69-55 in the Ohio Valley Tournament tile game on Saturday. The No. 3 seed Eagles also beat SIU Edwardsville and Tennessee-Martin on their way to securing the program's second bid to the Big Dance of the past four years. Riley Minix led the way for Morehead State with 26 points while Drew Thelwell added 21. -- David Cobb

Loser: Florida drops ugly game to Vanderbilt 

After leading at halftime 39-32, Florida allowed 47 second-half points in a 79-78 loss to Vanderbilt on the road. Vanderbilt guard Tyrin Lawrence converted on a clutch basket with 15 seconds remaining and the Commodores forced a turnover on the other end to seal the win. This counts as a Quad 3 loss for Florida - its first of the season - and it could definitely leave a mark on the resume come Selection Sunday. The Gators were coming off a commanding win over Alabama. Just a confusing result. -- Cameron Salerno

Winner: FAU continues to make noise 

FAU honored seniors Bryan Greenlee, Jalen Gaffney and Brandon Weatherspoon before its 92-84 victory vs. Memphis. Many seniors are lauded for leaving their mark on their respective teams before their last home game, but the Owls' trio may have changed the trajectory of this program after its magical Final Four run last season. The victory over the Tigers, played in front of a sellout crowd of 3,161, was the first time FAU played a home game on a national broadcast network in school history and capped a 31-1 record at home the last two seasons. Memphis players said they had trouble hearing their coaches due to the noise made by the raucous crowd and that certainly wasn't the case when these Owls arrived at FAU and were playing in front of sparse crowds. -- Marcus Nelson

Loser: Arkansas finds more misery

Arkansas lost 92-88 at No. 16 Alabama, despite never trailing in regulation. The Razorbacks opened up a 15-point lead in the first half and kept the hard-charging Crimson Tide at bay throughout the second half before a tragic ending to a painful regular season. Latrell Wrightsell Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining for Alabama to tie the game for the first time since it was 0-0. After an empty final possession from Arkansas, the game went to overtime, where the Crimson Tide squeaked out a much-needed win. Alabama had dropped three of its last four but secured a double-bye at next week's SEC Tournament with the dramatic win. Arkansas will begin play in Wednesday's preliminary round needing five wins in five days to reach the NCAA Tournament. -- Cobb

Winner: Sheppard and Knecht put on a show

No. 15 Kentucky went on the road and took down No. 4 Tennessee 85-81, but the real winners from this one were viewers at home who were treated to a show between two of the sport's biggest stars. Kentucky freshman Reed Sheppard went for 27 points and five assists in the winning effort, and Tennessee's Dalton Knecht one-upped a career-high by going for 40 points – just three games after setting a new career-high of 39 in a win over Auburn. -- Boone

Loser: Kyle Neptune, Nova fall short in 'Super Bowl'

With its potential NCAA Tournament lives on the line Saturday, Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said in the lead-up to the meeting with No. 10 Creighton that the Wildcats were approaching the game like it was their "Super Bowl." That was almost instantly iced into a frozen take. Creighton jumped out to a 24-point (!!) lead in Philly and looked on track to throttle Nova.

Credit Nova, though, for making it close. Nova got it tied in the final 25 seconds, coming all the way back, before Trey Alexander won it in the final second for Creighton 69-67. Nova's tourney hopes are all but dead, which stinks, and losing in the "Super Bowl" is a tough way to flame out. -- Boone

Winner: MVC clash set

The Missouri Valley Tournament title game is going to be a battle of the titans as No. 1 seed Indiana State takes on No. 2 seed Drake in a battle of top-50 NET teams. The league could end up with two NCAA Tournament bids if Drake wins and Indiana State receives an at-large bid. But the Sycamores are just a projected No. 11 seed in Palm's Bracketology and would be leaving their fate up to the Selection Committee with a loss. Drake must win in order to reach the Big Dance. -- Cobb

Winner: Merrimack's path opens up

The old adage about how it's difficult to beat a team three times in the same season proved true for No. 1 seed Central Connecticut State in the NEC Tournament semifinals. After a pair of one-point wins over Wagner in the regular season, the Blue Devils fell 66-56 to the No. 6 seed Seahawks. It will go down as CCSU's first 20-win season since 2006-07, but it won't end in an NCAA Tournament bid. Instead, Wagner and No. 2 seed Merrimack will battle Tuesday for the league's automatic bid to the Big Dance. Merrimack outlasted No. 4 seed Le Moyne 61-51 in the other semifinal and will have the chance to reach the NCAA Tournament in its first season of eligibility after the program's four-year transition period from Division II. -- Cobb

Loser: Iowa State is a different team on the road

If No. 6 Iowa State played every game inside Hilton Coliseum during the NCAA Tournament, they would be one of the odds-on favorites to take home the title. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, that's not possible. ISU finished the season 4-5 against Big 12 teams on the road after falling to Kansas State 65-58 on Saturday. I still don't trust Iowa State to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament because the nonconference schedule wasn't great and it has one ranked win total (vs. TCU) away from home this season. T.J. Otzelberger is a Coach of the Year candidate, but don't be shocked if Iowa State goes out early. -- Salerno

Winner: UNC Asheville's Pember at it again

Drew Pember turned in a performance to remember in No. 2 seed UNC Asheville's 83-72 overtime win against No. 3 seed Gardner-Webb in the Big South Tournament semifinals. Pember became the first player since at least 1996-97 to record a triple-double in a conference tournament game, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The performance helped lift the Bulldogs into Sunday's title game against No. 5 seed Longwood, where they will seek a second straight bid to the NCAA Tournament. Pember secured Big South Player of the Year for a second straight season before the tournament and is proving to be well-deserving of the accolade. -- Cobb

Loser: Mississippi State's NCAA hopes take another hit

Mississippi State was on the No. 10 line in CBS Sports' latest Bracketology update by Jerry Palm coming into the day. The Bulldogs are reaching dangerous territory heading into the SEC Tournament next week after falling to South Carolina 93-89 in overtime for their fourth loss to close out the regular season. At this point, Mississippi State's tournament hopes may come down to winning a game or two at the SEC Tournament. If they don't do that, they might be sweating on Selection Sunday. -- Salerno