NCAA Tournament Day 1 Recap
Day 1 of the best Tournament in the World has come and gone and with it we saw some great games going down to the wire, some surprises, and history. Below will be short game by game recaps from every game on the docket yesterday.
Minnesota 86 Louisville 76
Remember, the Committee doesn’t care about storylines. It was all too fitting that Richard (son of Rick) Pitino was to play Louisville, who fired his father unceremoniously in the offseason, in not just the first round, but the first game of the Tournament! How about that “coincidence”. Anyway, the Golden Gophers were red hot from beyond the arc and used that to fuel their upset. Minnesota averages 5 made 3’s a game and got 11 in round one.
LSU 79 Yale 74
LSU was without Will Wade and for a little while that didn’t seem to be an issue. The Tigers were far superior on the glass and athletically and were getting whatever they wanted offensively. Then Yale came storming back in the second half but still could not hit a 3. It took until the final two minutes for the Bulldogs to find the touch when they hit 4 to make it a game again. Miye Oni had a day to forget shooting 2-16 from the field and 1-10 from 3. Yale had chances but LSU moves on and will need to be better in round two.
Auburn 78 New Mexico State 77
What a finish in this game. Auburn had a double digit lead late in the 2nd half when New Mexico State suddenly came alive. The frenetic pace, which should play to Auburn’s favor, started their unraveling. Bad turnovers and missed shots got the Aggies back in the ball game. Late, New Mexico State had a chance down 2 with the ball and got fouled shooting a 3. Terrell Brown stepped up and missed 2 of 3, but Auburn knocked the ball out with 1.1 to give NMSU a final chance. Trevelin Queen shook his defender and got a wide open look but couldn’t hit and the fighting Bruce Pearl’s advance.
Florida State 76 Vermont 69
Leonard Hamilton said it best postgame, “I’ve never seen a team shoot the 3 so well.” I’m somewhat paraphrasing because I don’t remember exactly what was said, but that’s the gist. And Hamilton was dead on. Vermont shot 16-32 from 3 and came up with big shot after big shot down the stretch to keep it a game. Florida State was far too physical, long, and athletic but the Catamounts stuck with it. Foul trouble was a huge issue for Vermont and Florida State made the most of their 37-13 FT attempt advantage.
Michigan State 76 Bradley 65
Public enemy #1 for the Big J’s across America gave Michigan State everything they could handle for about 36 minutes. It was a back and forward game between the two and the game even saw Bradley extend their lead to 4 early in the 2nd half before a 10-0 Michigan State run gave the Spartans the lead and things started to click. It certainly wasn’t a pretty game for Tom Izzo’s club but a win is a win. He even got into it with Aaron Henry in what I would call a forgettable moment for the legendary coach.
Maryland 79 Belmont 77
This was a fun game. Belmont got a monster game from their star and future pro Dylan Windler to the tune of 35 points and 11 rebounds. But Maryland, who looked shaky throughout found ways to get it done and it was the front court that propelled them. Fernando and Smith combined for 33 points and 25 rebounds. The game did come down to the wire where Belmont had the ball late with a chance to tie or win and ran a similar play to one they used to win in the conference tourney. It is essentially a double mis-direction play that looks broken because they have two guys cutting to the same spot but the timing should free up the 2nd man for a backdoor lay in and the pass just wasn’t there.
Kansas 87 Northeastern 53
The B-Frank upset special went very, very wrong as Northeastern never even made it competitive with Kansas. Guard play is key for the Jayhawks, we all know Dedric Lawson is a stud and will get his, but when the guards can score, it really opens things up.
Murray State 83 Marquette 64
It was a terrible, no good, rotten day for the Big East and it started (well really it started with St. John’s) with Marquette getting boat-raced by Murray State. Ja Morant is breathtaking to watch and you can live with the turnovers because he just affects the game in so many other ways to make up for it. He posted the 17th triple double in NCAA Tournament history as his team cruised over Marquette. The Golden Eagles lost 6 of their final 7 in a season that 7 games ago looked so promising.
Florida 70 Nevada 61
As we got into the evening portion of the schedule we had the up-start Florida Gators and the almost apathetic Nevada Wolf Pack. I say apathetic when really it is probably lethargic because that starting 5 has logged so many minutes. The Gators looked comfortable and confident early on grabbing a double digit lead in the 2nd half, but as they do, Nevada came roaring back and brought the game within 2 points. But as was the case all night, Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline just didn’t have it. Kevarrius Hayes had a huge night for the Gators in the upset win.
Kentucky 79 Abilene Christian 44
This one was a snoozer, the Wildcats (from Kentucky) dominated from the opening tip and the only time Abilene Christian posed a threat was on the cheap undercut of Nick Richards late in the game. The biggest news is PJ Washington. Washington was in a cast and is not expected to play at all this weekend would is a huge blow to Kentucky.
Villanova 61 Saint Mary’s 57
**Insert Spider Man point at Spider Man gif here** These are very similar teams stylistically, they love to slow it down, shoot the 3, they don’t turn it over, they don’t foul, and are guard heavy. Early on it looked like Nova was going to cruise, but the Gaels settled in and started shooting. Jordan Ford was held in check with just 13 points and that was the key for the Wildcats. Phil Booth was great in the win for Villanova.
Gonzaga 87 Fairleigh Dickinson 49
Another blowout from the start, Gonzaga looked very comfortable in this one, Killian Tillie gave 18 strong minutes shooting 7-8 from the field and they have the look of a true 1 seed. They will need some more out of their guards, but you cannot expect too much in a game that was a 30-point difference at halftime.
Michigan 74 Montana 55
The Wolverines controlled this one throughout only allowing 21 points in the first half on their way to a 19-point victory. Great sign for Michigan was Charles Matthews’ posting a 22 point 10 rebound double-double. He is the key to success for this club. We know they play strong defense, but the offense has been lacking of late.
Wofford 84 Seton Hall 68
Fletcher Magee is the new all-time leader in 3 pointers made in NCAA history. He had 7 against the Pirates as his team shot 13-28 from downtown and hit 4 straight to close this one out. The score is deceptive, this game was 67-66 Wofford with about 4 minutes left and Seton Hall just had nothing left in the tank. Myles Powell was the man again willing his team back from a 10-point halftime deficit that ballooned to as much as 16 before the Hall took a short-lived lead and then tied it a few minutes later. But Wofford did all the little things right and had the balanced offensive attack. This team is not a 7 seed and will give Kentucky problems.
Purdue 61 Old Dominion 48
Purdue’s defense really locked in against the Monarchs holding them under 50 points. If the Boilermakers can play consistently strong defense, that would be a nice extra wrinkle to their game and extremely helpful when Carsen Edwards is off. Speaking of, Edwards had 26 points and 7 rebounds in the win.
Baylor 78 Syracuse 69
No Frank Howard and it hurt the Orange as they fell to Baylor in Round one. Makai Mason just lives for March and he exploded in this one for 22 points. Syracuse’s big three did as much as they could but turnovers were a killer and Baylor shot well, which doesn’t bode well for the zone.