The 2014 NCAA Tournament began last night in Dayton with two of the First Four play-in games. North Carolina State and Albany earned spots in the Round of 64 that begins on Thursday.
N.C. State 74 Xavier 59: The power of having the best player on the floor stood out in this one. While Xavier got nice games from center Matt Stainbrook (19 points/9 rebounds) and 14 from Semaj Criston on the perimeter, they weren’t going to match up with ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren for N.C. State.
Warren knocked down 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, doing all of his damage inside the arc. The Wolfpack backcourt was steady, Ralston Turner getting 17 and Tyler Lewis dishing eight assists as N.C. State pulled away relatively early in the second half and won comfortably. They move on to play St. Louis.
Albany 71 Mount St. Mary’s 64: The battle for the 16-seed line in the South and the right to play top overall seed Florida goes to the Great Danes. The Albany backcourt was dominant. Even though D.J. Evans and Peter Hooley were missing three-point shots, they did their damage in closer and combined for 42 points.
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Mount St. Mary’s had a pretty clear game plan and it was to jack threes and hope. It’s the same strategy my Wednesday night men’s league team employs and it worked about as well. The Mount shot 12-for-37 from behind the arc. Will Miller, a reserve guard, did get his own one shining moment though—he came off the bench and hit 7-for-12—every single shot attempt being a three.
The First Four concludes tonight with Cal Poly-Texas Southern and Iowa-Tennessee. The games are on truTV and begin at 6:40 PM ET. TheSportsNotebook’s NCAA Tournament coverage returns tomorrow.