Day One of the NCAA March Madness Tournament is in the books with some upsets, some predictable wins and a load of excitement. Here is a quick recap of the first days action.
The first day saw two 3 seeds falling to a 14 in Iowa St. and Baylor, losing to UAB and Georgia St. respectively. UAB hit a go ahead bucket with less than 3 seconds to go, downing Iowa St. 60-59. Georgia St. continues dancing after a 3-pointer from R.J. Hunter to put down the Baylor Bears 57-56. Notre Dame, the only other 3 seed to play yesterday, played a close game against Northeastern but eventually came out on top, winning 69-65.
11 seed UCLA, a team many thought shouldn’t have made the tournament, snuck by Larry Brown’s 6 seed SMU after a controversial 3-point goaltending call against SMU center Yanick Moreira. The shot seemed offline, but after review, the referees still believed it was a goaltend and UCLA beat SMU 60-59. 8 seed Cincinnati forced overtime and eventually pulled out the win against 9 seed Purdue, downing the Boilermakers, 66-65. Troy Caupain was able to send the Bearcats to OT when he played in a bucket at the buzzer after Cincinnati trailed by 7 with 48.5 seconds.
10 seed Ohio State pulled off the upset against 7 seed VCU behind future top five NBA Draft pick D’Angelo Russell. Russell dropped a game high 28 points as OSU used overtime to beat VCU 75-72. 8 seed NC State rallied in the 2nd half from 16 down to get over the 9 seed LSU Tigers, 66-65. Wolfpack forward BeeJay Anya’s hook shot fell with a second left in the game to propel his team to victory.
4 seed UNC just squeaked by 13 seed Harvard behind the play of Marcus Paige and their big men, winning 67-65. Justin Jackson scored 14, including a game tying jumper in the final minute and the n a fast break dunk to seal the Tarheels first round victory. 5 seed Arkansas avoided being upset by 12 seed Wofford behind the 20 points from Michael Qualls. Bobby Portis contributed 15 points and 13 boards on way to the Razorback 56-53 victory.
Another 5 seed Utah beat 12 seed Stephen F. Austin 57-50. In the game, freshman Jakob Poeltl shined, as he scored 18 points, grabbed 8 boards and swatted 5 shots, all team highs. 4 seed Georgetown survived a late rally by Eastern Washington, beating the 13 seed 84-74. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera dropped a game high 25 points in the Hoya’s 10 point victory as Georgetown moves on.
6 seed Butler denied 11 seed Texas from advancing in an impressive 56-48 victory. The Bulldogs got a huge boost from Kellen Dunham, who scored 20 points, including a big 3-pointer with a little over a minute left to play. Another 6 seed, Xavier, dominated 11 seed Ole Miss throughout, winning 76-57. Matt Stainbrook dropped 20 points for the Musketeers while Ole Miss failed to get going offensively, struggling from the field.
2 seed Arizona showed they were a contender against 15 seed Texas Southern, controlling the game throughout on their way to a 93-72 blow out win. Ronda Hollis-Jefferson led the Wildcats in both rebounds and points with 10 and 23 respectively. And Arizona’s offense was electric, hitting 60.4% of their shots, including 45.5% of 3-pointers. Arizona does not look like a team anyone wants to face soon.
1 seed Villanova also controlled the game throughout, handing 16 seed Lafayette a 93-52 drubbing. Nova used a mix of good defense and a balanced offensive attack to easily move on to the next round. The Wildcats shot an impressive 63.2% from the field and 50.0% from 3 to show that they too are contenders for cutting down the net. On the other side, Lafayette struggled to get any offense going, shooting a poor 38.2% form the field. Wildcats advance.
This years favorite, undefeated Kentucky remained undefeated, as the 1 seeded Wildcats downed 16 seeded Hampton 79-56. Kentucky got a huge performance from Karl-Anthony Towns, who scored 21, grabbed 11 boards and sent away 3 shots. It was business as usual for Kentucky, who used their athleticism, speed, strength and depth to remain undefeated for another day. Kentucky is showing that they are the best team in college basketball right now.