It took almost the whole day, but the Madness finally struck last night when a 14 seed took out a 3 seed. We also saw a furious comeback at Rupp, two 12 seeds from the Pac 12 advance, Brad Stevens continue his March magic, and VCU showed that they are here to make a statement. Needless to say, it was an exciting day of the NCAA Tournament. This first weekend is one of the most exciting weekends in sports in my opinion. Here is a quick recap of yesterday’s games…
(1) Louisville 79 – (16) NC A&T 48: Our top seeded Cardinals did what they were supposed to do, dominate the 16 seed. This one was never in doubt as the Cards set a record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game with 20, and had anywhere from 66 to 75 deflections on defense (depending on who you listen to). This was just an overmatched game, as it should have been, and the Cards took care of business. Russ Smith led the Cards with 23 points.
(8) Colorado State 84 – (9) Missouri 72: In a high scoring game, the Rams took out their opponent from the SEC to set up a game with the Cards. The big stat here was rebounds. Colorado State outrebounded Missouri 36-18, led by Colton Iverson’s 13. They also shot 27-33 from the free throw line. Phil Pressey and Alex Oriakhi combined for 36 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Rams as they advance.
(12) Oregon 68 – (5) Oklahoma State 55: There always seems to be that 12 seed that knocks off a 5 seed, and this was the first to happen this year. Oregon, fresh off a Pac 12 tournament championship, kept their winning ways up with the upset over Travis Ford’s Oklahoma State team. The Ducks led almost the whole way, and kept a double-digit lead for most of the 2nd half.
(4) St. Louis 64 – (13) New Mexico State 44: This game was never really close, as St. Louis took care of business as the 4 seed. Dwayne Evans led all scorers with 24 points in this one. The Billikens now move on to face a hot Oregon team.
(6) Memphis 54 – (13) St. Mary’s 52: The Tigers led this one most of the way, and seemed to have it locked up until the last couple of minutes. St. Mary’s made a late comeback and had a shot to win it at the end, but Matthew Dellavedova’s 3 pointer missed everything as time expired and the Memphis Tigers escaped with the victory.
(3) Michigan State 65 – (14) Valparaiso 54: Tom Izzo’s teams always find ways to win in March, and that continued yesterday. The score doesn’t really reflect how dominant the Spartans were in this one. They led 35-18 at half, and were pretty much on cruise control the rest of the game. Valpo made a late surge, but Michigan State was able to hold them off and advance.
(1) Gonzaga 64 – (16) Southern 58: The Zags were very close to becoming the first 1 seed to EVER lose to a 16 seed. This one came down to the wire, and suddenly there were a lot more Southern fans around the country. One important part of a huge upset is the underdog keeping the game close for a while and gaining confidence. This one was 34-31 Gonzaga at half, so Southern knew they could hang around. They hung around the rest of the game, and they definitely put a scare into the #1 seed.
(9) Wichita State 73 – (8) Pittsburgh 55: They are nicknamed the Shockers, and that’s apparently what they did to Pittsburgh. You don’t see many blowouts in the 8/9 games, but this one was. Wichita State got up double digits in the first half, and never really looked back. Whenever Pitt tried to go on a run, it just never happened, and the Shockers sent Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh home early.
(6) Arizona 81 – (11) Belmont 64: The Wildcats had a lot of close games this season, and Belmont was thought to be able to make some noise in the tournament. But for this night, Arizona put all of that talk to rest. Mark Lyons led all scorers with 23 points, and for the 2nd year in a row, I questioned why I took Belmont to win.
(14) Harvard 68 – (3) New Mexico 62: This was easily the upset of the day. Harvard put a dent in many brackets around the country by taking out the 3rd seeded Lobos. Some had them as a Final Four team, and now they won’t even play in the 2nd round (Yes, the round of 32 will always be the 2nd round to me). So for day 1, Harvard became the Cinderella story. They move on to face Arizona. Can they pull it off and get to the Sweet 16???
(5) VCU 88 – (12) Akron 42: Shaka Smart made sure his team did not become a victim of the 12/5 upset, leaving no doubts in this game. The Rams led 50-25 at half, and rather than calling the dogs off there, they kept the pressure on for the rest of the game as they won by 46 points! Troy Daniels led all scorers with 23 points for VCU.
(4) Michigan 71 – (13) South Dakota State 56: The Wolverines only led by 4 at half, but pulled away in the 2nd half and moved on as a 4 seed is supposed to. Not much to see here.
(12) California 64 – (5) UNLV 61: Another 12/5 upset with the Pac 12 coming out on top. This game was close the whole way, and California did just enough to pull off the upset over the Runnin Rebels.
(4) Syracuse 81 – (13) Montana 34: Apparently the ‘Cuse were not happy with how the Big East Championship turned out, and they took it out on Montana, who had 4 guys tied with 5 points each, and those were the leading scorers! Brandon Triche led the Orange with 20 points.
(6) Butler 68 – (11) Bucknell 56: This was a slugfest. The score was 21-14 at half, and in this game, that felt like a 20 point lead. Bucknell rallied back and took the lead in the 2nd half, but Brad Stevens’ Butler kids responded and took the lead back, built on it, and put it away.
(3) Marquette 59 – (14) Davidson 58: We almost had a big upset to start the day, but the Wildcats could not hold on. A lot of people picked Davidson to win this one anyway, and they certainly had the game in hand. But a 3 point spree by Marquette got them back into the game, followed by a Davidson turnover. Then Marquette’s Vander Blue made a layup and left 1 second on the clock, but the Wildcats could not get a shot off.