Arizona, No. 2 seed in South Region with Alabama, upset by 15-seed Princeton in March Madness

Nick Gray
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama basketball's path to the Final Four became a lot easier on Thursday, with the NCAA Tournament just six hours old.

2-seed Arizona blew a 10-point lead with 8 minutes left and lost 59-55 to Princeton in the team's first round game in Sacramento to open up the bottom half of the South Region bracket.

The Wildcats led 51-41 with 8:07 to go, then scored just four points the rest of the way as the Tigers finished on an 18-4 run. Princeton also held Arizona scoreless for the final 4 minutes, 45 seconds, and Ryan Langborn's layup with 2:03 left put the Tigers ahead for good.

Princeton will face 7-seed Missouri for a spot in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

Alabama won 96-75 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday in Birmingham to move onto the Round of 32 and a matchup against Maryland. The biggest concern for the Tide on Thursday was a groin injury star freshman Brandon Miller has been nursing since Sunday's SEC Tournament title game win against Texas A&M.

INSTANT RECAP:Brandon Miller scoreless, but Alabama basketball routs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi anyway

INJURY CONCERN?Alabama's Brandon Miller played through groin injury in March Madness opening win

Six of eight first round games in the South Region were played in the Thursday afternoon portion of play, with Alabama, Maryland, San Diego State, Furman, Mizzou and Princeton winning games. It's also been the region of upsets early, with 13-seed Furman shocking 4-seed Virginia and the Tigers' upset of Arizona.

That means two of the top region rivals for the Tide have already been eliminated. 6-seed Creighton faces 11-seed NC State, and 3-seed Baylor faces 14-seed UC Santa Barbara on Friday in first round games.

Most picked Alabama to make it through the South Region before the first round began on Thursday. Now? The Tide are the overwhelming favorites to make it to Houston in two weeks.