Part 1: WhatIfSports.com (Part 1)
The first day is in the books, and we've had 13-seed Princeton upset 4-seed Kentucky, 11-seed Gonzaga over 6-seed St. John's and 11-seed Missouri over 6-seed Cincinnati. What does the 2nd day of the Round of 64 have in store? Spoiler alert: it starts off with a bang.
The opening game of day 2 sees #4 Texas going against #13 Oakland. The Grizzlies and Longhorns set the bar for a day that will be really, really hard to top. Oakland is never intimidated and takes the game at Texas, running with them and proving that anything they can do, the Grizzlies can do better. At halftime, the Grizzlies have officially served notice and lead 47-41. The 2nd half is completely back-and-forth, with Texas owning a 3 point lead with just under 2 minutes to play. Over the final 2 minutes, Oakland finishes the game on a 10-2 run and upsets the Big XII big boys 92-87. Jordan Hamilton of Texas finishes with 21 points on 9-20 shooting and a rough 2-8 from beyond the arc while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Cory Joseph adds 12 points and Gary Johnson nets 11. For Oakland, Reggie Hamilton drops in 22 points on 6-12 shooting, 2-5 from three and a perfect 8-8 from the line. Keith Benson muscled up for 13 points and 12 boards with 4 blocks while Larry Wright came off the bench for 15 points. Elsewhere, Dan Beebe cries in his Lonestar Beer.
While the country watches the above game, nobody seems to notice the #8 Michigan Wolverines vs the #9 Tennessee Volunteers. And that's a good thing, as Tennessee limps to a 56-47 snoozefest win. Michigan's Darius Morris and Tennessee's Cameron Tatum each had 13 points.
#2 Notre Dame took out #15 Akron with no trouble, 82-58. The game was tied at the half at 37, which apparently got the attention of the Fighting Irish players. Five players finished in double figures for Notre Dame, led by Tim Abromaitis with 19. The Zips' Zeke Marshall led his team with 11.
A tale of two halves in the 8/9 game between #8 George Mason and #9 Villanova. The Patriots won the first half 36-25 while the Wildcats led the way in half number two 36-29. For those bad at math, GMU held on for a 65-61 win. Cam Long led a balanced attack for the Patriots dropping in 13 while Isaiah Tate came off the bench to score 10. Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou for 'Nova combined for 24 rebounds while Corey Fisher scored 14 in a losing effort.
In another battle of great programs, #12 Memphis needed the tournament's first OT game to upset #5 Arizona 92-87. The Tigers, erasing a 13-point halftime deficit hit a game-tying shot with less than 2 seconds to play to send deadlocked 81-81 game into OT where they were able to seize permanent control. Four Memphis starters were in double-figures, led by Tarik Black with 20 and Antonio Barton was money off the bench with 15 points including a perfect 3-3 from long range. For the Wildcats it was all Derrick Williams who scored 33 points and added 10 rebounds along with going 11-12 from the free throw line. Only one other player, Kyle Fogg, reached double-digits for Arizona at 12 points.
#1 Duke let #16 Hampton stick around for longer than they should have but it was never really in doubt as the Blue Devils won 75-67. Nolan Smith had 15 points while Mason Plumlee snagged 14 rebounds. The Pirates' Darrion Pellum put on a heck of a show in the loss draining 5-11 threes and hitting 10-22 field goals on his way to 27 points.
#7 Texas A&M may have felt slighted by the selection committee, but they did nothing to prove them wrong against #10 Florida State. The Seminoles absolutely embarrassed the Aggies in a 77-47 route that saw only one aTm player, David Loubeau, reach double figures with 11 points. The Seminoles were led by Derwin Kitchen with 22 points, while Luke Loucks came off the bench for 12. The Aggies shot just 38% from the field, only 23% from three and a miserable 46% from the line.
#1 Ohio State wasted no time dispatching play-in winner #16 Alabama State. The Buckeyes rolled up a 99-57 victory, putting on a 3-point shooting clinic as they hit 12-17 from long range in the game. William Buford had 27 points hitting 5-6 threes, and Jon Diebler added 22 points also going 5-6 from three. Redundantly named Ivory White of Alabama State scored 13 points in the losing effort.
The evening games started off with another 1/16 game as #1 kansas took down #16 Boston University 85-61. The Morris twins combined for 33 points and 20 rebounds as they were they story of the game while kansas shot a mere 12 threes in the entire game, making 5. For the Terriers a 15-point effort from Darryl Partin was hardly enough to ever worry the jayhawks. Following the game many kansas fans were already getting their arena fitted for their next championship banner.
#2 North Carolina escaped by the thinnest of margins, avoiding being the biggest upset of the first round, as #15 Long Island University missed a game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer to lose 92-90. The Blackbirds, led by David Hicks, almost wore as glorious a slipper as the tournament can hand out but their effort fell just short as Hicks missed his only 3-point attempt of the game on his last shot. Still, his 27 points on 9-12 from the floor, 6-7 from three and 3-4 from the line was the highlight of the game. Tyler Zeller for UNC put in a great night's work as well, scoring 25 points and grabbing 15 rebounds, teaming up with John Henson's 16 rebounds to completely control the glass.
#3 Purdue took care of business against #14 St. Peter's in a 65-51 victory. JaJuan Johnson led the way for the Boilermakers with 24 points and 10 rebounds while St. Peter's spread out 5 players with 8 more points.
RockMNation "favorite" #11 Marquette was able to get by #6 Xavier 79-70. The Musketeers had 4 in double figures with Kenny Frease getting 11 points and 11 boards to go with Tu Holloway's 16 points but it wasn't enough to keep up with the Golden Eagles' Darius Johnson-Odom who poured in 26 points on 9-14 shooting (3-4 from three, 5-6 from the line). He also added 9 rebounds in his player-of-the-game performance.
#8 UNLV scored the game-winning layup with less than 4 seconds to go to beat #9 Illinois 74-73 in a much more entertaining game than most would have expected. Oscar Bellfield's 19 points for the Rebels led the way while the Illini's Demetri McCamey scored 23 of his own.
Another 10/7 game resulted in a blowout with #7 Washington making short work of #10 Georgia 73-48. Abdul Gaddy led the Huskies with 15 points while Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 12 and Isaiah Thomas contributed 11. The Bulldogs, who were never a factor, were led by Trey Thompkins' 13 points.
#6 Georgetown survived a scare from play-in #12 USC as the Hoyas hold off the Trojans in a 63-59 win. The Trojans, who led by 2 at the half, got 13 out of Nikola Vucevic and 11 more from Donte Smith off the bench. Georgetown's Austin Freeman scored 15 to lead his team to victory while Nate Lubick was just 1 board away from a double-double (11 points, 9 rebounds).
The last game of the Round of 64 pitted the Valley's #14 Indiana State Sycamores against the surging #3 Syracuse Orangemen. Syracuse rode a monstrous halftime lead of 41-22 to an easy victory, 66-46. Kris Joseph's 18 points and 10 rebounds set the pace for Syracuse while the overmatched Sycamores missed Larry Bird and got only 10 points out of Myles Walker.
The first round is in the books! Coming later tonight we'll pare the field down to 16 before revealing the Final Four tomorrow morning!