With the first full day of NCAA Tournament games in the books, let’s start first with Thursday’s games and then look ahead to Friday’s games. But before I get started, let me reiterate the madness of this tournament. I’ll get to the Georgia State game in a bit, but I was literally yelling in my living room for 15 seconds.
UAB (14) over Iowa State (3), 60-59
Our first upset of the tournament was a big one. UAB was in charge for most of the game – even leading at half – so this wasn’t as shocking as some of the other games, but it’s still a big deal. Iowa State had a really clean look to tie the game at the end, which is all you can ask for. A lot of brackets had the Cyclones in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight, but UAB clearly doesn’t care.
Georgia State (14) over Baylor (3), 57-56
When Georgia State got the ball, I kept screaming to get to the basket. RJ Hunter decided he’d just chuck up this bomb, but hey, it worked! When it works, you can’t say anything. I’m glad Ron Hunter didn’t tear his other Achilles tendon falling out of his stool on the sideline. Incredible shot, incredible win.
UCLA (11) over SMU (6), 60-59
I’m not a rules expert. That might’ve been goaltending (maybe?) by the letter of the law, but man that was close and heartbreaking for SMU. But it’s not like the Mustangs can blame just the refs: They were up seven with 1:26 to go.
NC State (8) over LSU (9), 66-65
So LSU is cruising along with a steady lead throughout most of the game, and then it just falls apart. At the under-4 timeout, the Tigers led by four, but they would miss six free throws to keep the Wolfpack in the game, even though they kept missing shots too. Jordan Mickey misses a bunny after the State defender flops, and then you get a game winner. I don’t think anyone expected BeeJay Anya would be the savior, but man what a shot. LEFT-HANDED HOOK SHOT!
Cincinnati (8) over Purdue (9), 66-65 (OT)
That shot that sent the game into overtime. The ball hung on the rim for what felt like an eternity. I still can’t believe that didn’t spin out.
Not quite as insane but still close
Notre Dame (3) over Northeastern (14), 69-65
North Carolina (4) over Harvard (13), 67-65
Arkansas (5) over Wofford (12), 56-53
Butler (6) over Texas (11), 56-48
Ohio State (10) over VCU (7), 75-72 (OT)
Northeastern hung in there with Notre Dame for much longer than most would have guessed. The Irish are a popular pick to play Kentucky in the Elite Eight after winning the ACC Tournament. Harvard very nearly stole one against UNC thanks to the poor play of Kennedy Meeks and excellent play of Wesley Saunders. Wofford had two really good looks to tie the game at the end but just couldn’t get one to fall. Texas gave Butler a really good shot at the end, but the Bulldogs kept making big shots to keep the Longhorns at bay. And despite Shaka Smart’s best efforts, D’Angelo Russell is still really good. The frosh dropped 28 points in his first NCAA game.
The “wasn’t worried” group
Kentucky (1) over Hampton (16), 79-56
Villanova (1) over Lafayette (16), 93-52
Arizona (2) over Texas Southern (15), 93-72
Georgetown (4) over Eastern Washington (13), 84-74
Utah (5) over Stephen F. Austin (12), 57-50
Xavier (6) over Ole Miss (11), 76-57
Let’s quickly go through these games. Kentucky is the best team in the country, Villanova is a No. 1 seed and a lot of people have Arizona in the Final Four. Georgetown, Utah and Xavier all had reasons for concern with their opponents but took care of business like good teams should.
Looking at Friday
I don’t know how you really go up from Thursday’s games, but I am positive Friday will have some of the same wackiness.
Here’s what you should watch: 7 Iowa/10 Davidson!!! I am so jazzed for this game. Knowing me, this game is going to be a blowout or something, but I think it’s going to be a really good game. Iowa is strong inside with Aaron White, Gabriel Olaseni and Adam Woodbury. Davidson isn’t that strong inside, but it shoots the lights out. The Wildcats average 40 percent from deep.
Michigan State is a popular pick to upset some teams later in the tournament and make a good run. Tom Izzo has shown he can do it, so the Spartans will probably attract some viewers. Wichita State also has some recent success in the tournament, and a lot of people see it beating Kansas in the next round.
Who knows? Maybe three seed Oklahoma will continue the embarrassing showing for the Big 12. Maybe a couple of the two seeds will run into more trouble than they expected. Maybe we’ll see some more thrilling, down-to-the-wire, fun basketball that we’re accustomed to in March. We can’t predict the games, but we know there will chaos.
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