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March Madness: Stanford goes down and so does last remaining perfect bracket

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Cameron Brink fouled out early in the fourth quarter of her final college game, and soon after Stanford and the last perfect ESPN Tournament Challenge bracket were gone, too.

Like the 11th-seeded North Carolina State men minutes earlier in its 67-58 victory over No. 2 Marquette, the third-seeded Wolfpack women survived and advanced in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. They rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to knock off the No. 2 Cardinal 77-67 in the Sweet 16.

And with it went the lone remaining perfect women's bracket, which had Stanford making the Elite Eight.

It was the last one standing out of 3.25 million entries.

There were three perfect ESPN brackets entering Friday play. The other two fell when No. 3 seed Oregon State defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 70-65.

There are 16 winless ESPN brackets that will stay that way the rest of the tournament.

Sheldon Jacobson, who runs the Bracketodds website, said going with chalk in the women’s bracket was more effective than on the men’s side.

That is the way the first round played out over the first two days. Higher seeds were 31-1, with No. 6 Louisville's 71-69 loss to No. 11 Middle Tennessee on Friday the one exception. The Cardinals' loss was responsible for 1.58 million brackets taking their first defeat — the highest of the tournament.

“At the end of the day, you know a lot of the No. 1s are going to be in the Final Four,” Jacobson said. “Occasionally, you’ll get a two or a three, but it just doesn’t happen very often. The men’s game is far more unpredictable. We can get high-scoring brackets in the women’s game, but so can everybody else.”

South Carolina was the favorite among brackets submitted to the CBS site, but many also believed in Caitlin Clark and Iowa. The Gamecocks were chosen on 41.5% of CBS ballots to win the NCAA Tournament, followed by Iowa at 29.6%.

Then there was a serious drop-off, with USC next at 4.2%. Last year’s champion, LSU, was on 3.2% of ballots.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness