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Stanford crashes, as does the last remaining perfect bracket

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Cameron Brink was fouled early in the fourth quarter of her final college game, and shortly after, Stanford and the last perfect ESPN Tournament Challenge round were gone as well.

Like the No. 11 seed North Carolina State men did a few minutes earlier in their 67-58 victory over No. 2 Marquette, the No. 3 seed Wolfpack women survived and advanced in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. They rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the No. 2 Cardinal 77-67 in the Sweet 16.

And with that, the only remaining perfect women's category, in which Stanford made it into the Elite Eight, was lost.

It was last among 3.25 million entries.

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

There are 16 winless ESPN brackets, which will remain that way for the rest of the tournament.

Sheldon Jacobson, who runs the Bracketodds website, said the use of chalk was more effective on women than on men.

This is how the first round went on the first two days. The higher seeds were 31-1, with No. 6 Louisville's 71-69 loss to No. 11 Middle Tennessee on Friday being the lone exception. The Cardinals' loss accounted for 1.58 million brackets, which suffered their first loss – the highest of the tournament.

“At the end of the day, you know a lot of the No. 1 seeds are going to be in the Final Four,” Jacobson said. “Occasionally you get a B or a C, but that just doesn’t happen very often. The men's game is far more unpredictable. We can achieve top positions in women’s football, but so can everyone else.”

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

Then there was a sharp decline, followed by USC at 4.2%. Last year's winner LSU received 3.2% of the vote.

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AP March Madness category: and coverage:

Anna Harden

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