Craft held the ball until he had no other choice, then swished a 3-pointer with a half-second left Sunday for a 78-75 victory over Iowa State, sending the Buckeyes to a school-record fourth straight trip to the round of 16.
No. 2 Ohio State had managed to escape as the lone high seed left in the NCAA Tournament's most-busted bracket.
"The moment's a lot bigger than me," said Craft, who had allowed Iowa State to catch up with missed free throws and an errant jumper. "It just happened to be in my hands at the end."
Ohio State (28-7) needed Craft's fearless shot over 6-foot-7 defender Georges Niang to avoid yet another upset in the oh-so-wild West Regional. Four of the top five seeds fell fast and hard in the first weekend.
"With all that's gone on in college basketball, anything's possible," Craft said. "You can see it with what's gone on in our bracket right now."
Tenth-seeded Iowa State (23-12) overcame a late 13-point deficit by hitting 3s the Cyclones' specialty but wound up beaten by one, a tough way to have their upset bid end.
"We played our hearts out," said Will Clyburn, a former Utah Ute who scored 17 points. "It was a tough game and he made a tough shot. He made a great play."
Craft's missed free throws helped Iowa State catch up. He missed the front end of a pair of one-and-one chances and was off on a jumper from just inside the arc with 29.2 seconds left and the score tied.
The Cyclones knocked the ball out of bounds while trying for the rebound, setting up the final chance. Coach Thad Matta called a timeout and went over the options.
"I told 'em, 'Hey, let's get the last shot; let's play for the win here,' " Matta said.
When the Cyclones switched coverages to take away leading scorer Deshaun Thomas and put their tall freshman on Craft, the point guard decided to take it himself.
"He had a tough shot," said Korie Lucious, who led Iowa State with 19 points. "He hadn't hit a 3 all game."
The officials reviewed the play to confirm that Craft's foot was behind the arc when he shot. Lucious didn't come close on a long heave as the final half-second ran off.
La Salle 76, Mississippi 74 • Tyrone Garland banked home a scooping layup with 2 seconds left in Kansas City, Mo., vaulting the 13th-seeded Explorers to their deepest run in the NCAA Tournament since they played for the championship in 1955.
Ramon Galloway scored 24 points for La Salle (24-9), which played its third game in five days but showed no sign of fatigue. No. 12 Ole Miss (27-9) led 74-72 with 1:58 left but failed to reach the regional semifinals for the first time since 2001.
After Tyreek Duren's two foul shots tied it 74-74 at the 1:07 mark, Mississippi star and team lightning rod Marshall Henderson missed an off-balance bank shot that would have given the Rebels the lead. Henderson, a former University of Utah player, scored 21 points in a game with 11 lead changes. NCAA Tournament live blog
What's happening right now in the NCAA Tournament? Jump into our live blog anytime and get a snapshot of not only what's going on, but what folks are buzzing about as well.