A look back at all 16 games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament from Thursday, broken down by region…
Michigan State 93 Delaware 78: Michigan State shot 53 percent, won rebounding by a 42-24 margin and Adreian Payne dropped 41. Yeah, the Spartans are hot right now. And this team they beat is a pretty good small conference foe.
Harvard 61 Cincinnati 57: A kind of ho-hum game to watch. Harvard won because their three-guard attack led by Wesley Saunders and Laurent Rivard combined for 34 points, and Cincinnati guard, Sean Kilpatrick, who scored 18, had no help.
UConn 89 St. Joe’s 81 (OT): A really good game saw two great players put on a show. Langston Galloway for St. Joe’s knocked down 25 points. UConn’s Shabazz Napier, a freshman contributor when this team made its 2011 NCAA title run for Jim Calhoun, had a fantastic all-around game, with 24 points/8 rebounds/7 assists.
It’s Michigan State-Harvard on Saturday, and Villanova-UConn, in a battle of former conference rivals. The other pods on the bracket are led by 1-seed Virginia and 3-seed Iowa State and tip off today.
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Florida 67 Albany 55—Albany hung around deep into the second half on this one and got 21 points from D.J. Evans. The Great Danes’ hopes of an upset faded when sharpshooting guard Peter Hooley went 1-of-10 from the perimeter, though the Gator defense did have a considerable amount to do with that.
Pitt 77 Colorado 48—The Panthers were just all over the Buffaloes right from the start. Pitt took full advantage of Colorado missing guard Spencer Dinwiddie, and the Panthers forced 17 turnovers and held the Buffs to 35 percent shooting.
Syracuse 77 Western Michigan 53–C.J. Fair had 14 points/11 rebounds and led a big Orange advantage in on the boards. The Syracuse backcourt, Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis, combined to shoot 12-for-21. This might be the game they need to break out of a late season slump.
Dayton 60 Ohio State 59–A great back-and-forth game ended when Vee Sanford hit a running layup for Dayton with less than four seconds left, Aaron Craft came immediately flying down the floor for Ohio State and put up a short jumper in traffic and saw it roll off. Sanford’s 10 points off the bench were a big difference-maker in the big picture, as well as on the last shot.
Florida will play Pitt on Saturday, while Syracuse meets Dayton. The other pods in the bracket, led by 4-seed UCLA and 2-seed Kansas will open today.
Louisville 71 Manhattan 64: The feisty Jaspers made this a game against the defending national champions, but Louisville was too much physically. They controlled rebounding, 42-31, and enjoyed a 27-15 scoring advantage from the foul line, often a byproduct of playing more physically. It was enough to save the Cards on a night they shot 36 percent, with Russ Smith struggling to 3-for-9 from the floor.
St. Louis 83 N.C. State 80 (OT): It took 31 years, but the free-throw game finally came back around the bite N.C. State. Their miracle 1983 NCAA title run under Jim Valvano was keyed by repeated failures of opponents at the foul line, notably Pepperdine to open the tournament and Houston to end it. Last night, the Wolfpack blew a 16-point second half because they couldn’t hit free throws and finished the game 20/37 at the stripe.
Texas 87 Arizona State 85: Cameron Ridley controlled the low post for Texas, with 17 points/12 rebounds. Most players got their points, as the final score indicates, but ASU’s Jahii Carson shot only 6-for-16—which is not terrible, but in a game like this, was just inefficient enough to tip it Texas’ way.
Michigan 57 Wofford 40: An ugly performance for the Wolverines saw them saved by Wofford jacking up 19 trey attempts and only making one. That’s a 5.3 shooting percentage for those of you scoring at home.
It’s Louisville-St. Louis and Michigan-Texas on Saturday. The other half of the bracket that starts today is led by 1-seed Wichita State and 3-seed Duke.
Wisconsin 77 American 35: Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust combined for 35 points in the backcourt, Wisconsin held American to 30 percent shooting from the floor and an early 17-10 deficit ended with the Badgers on 67-18 run to finish the game. Statistics show that teams which go on a 67-18 run have a very high percentage of winning.
Oregon 87 BYU 68: It was a reserve who made the big difference, as Elgin Cook came off the Oregon bench to score 23 points. BYU’s Tyler Haws had 19, but that was below his season-average and this entire game was a free throw parade. Oregon shot 31/38 from the line, BYU was 23/30. Apparently no one was allowed to breathe without getting a whistle.
North Dakota State 80 Oklahoma 75: The stars struggled in this game, as North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield each had poor shooting games. Lawrence Alexander knocked down 28 for the Bison and they shot 53 percent from the floor to the Sooners’ 35 percent.
San Diego State 73 New Mexico State 69 (OT): San Diego State was the 4-seed favorite, but they were undersized, in comparison to a tall Aggie squad. Therefore, I would identify the key to this game as the Aztecs fighting to a virtual draw on the boards (41-40). Give the kudos to Josh Davis, who hauled in 14 boards. That meant the guards could decide the game and Xavier Thames led the way with 23 for San Diego State.
Saturday’s games see Wisconsin play Oregon, a rematch of the schools that played in the Rose Bowl that followed the 2011 college football season. San Diego State meets North Dakota State. The other pods in this bracket are led by 1-seed Arizona and 3-seed Creighton and begin today.
NCAA Tournament coverage returns tomorrow with a look at Friday’s first-round games. Here’s the lineup for today…
Mercer-Duke (12:15 PM ET, CBS)
Nebraska-Baylor (12:40 PM ET, truTV)
Stanford-New Mexico (1:40 PM ET, TBS)
Weber State-Arizona (2:10 PM ET, TNT)
Tennessee-UMass (2:45 PM ET, CBS)
UL-Lafayette-Creighton (3:10 PM ET, truTV)
Eastern Kentucky-Kansas (4:10 PM ET, TBS)
Oklahoma State-Gonzaga (4:40 PM ET, TNT)
George Washington-Memphis (6:55 PM ET, TBS)
Cal-Poly-Wichita State (7:10 PM ET, CBS)
Providence-North Carolina (7:20 PM ET, TNT)
Stephen Austin-Virginia Commonwealth (7:27 PM ET, truTV)
Coastal Carolina-Virginia (9:25 PM ET, TBS)
Kansas State-Kentucky (9:40 PM ET, CBS)
UNC-Central-Iowa State (9:50 PM ET, TNT)
Tulsa-UCLA (9:57 PM ET, truTV)