USA TODAY Sports
If you missed a monster dunk, upset, close finish or any of the other madness from the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament, we've got you covered. |
It seems like it's become an annual occurrence. A 15 seed doesn't beat a 2 within the first four hours of the tournament, and everybody immediately starts in with the "I thought it was supposed to be 'March Madness'" talk.
As much as I'd like to fork-stab these people for tampering with a perfectly lucid basketball buzz, they had more of a legitimate gripe on Thursday than they ordinarily do...until the evening session rolled around. Once the sun set in the East, the sports world was treated to a pair of the vaunted 12/5 upsets and Harvard stunning third-seeded New Mexico.
Day one of the NCAA Tournament is always better than just about every other day on the sports calendar, and the 2013 edition was no different. Over the course of about 12 hours we saw the previously mentioned monster upset, another three seed survive with a bucket in the closing seconds, a one seed get pushed to the brink by a 16 and the all the other high and low-lights you expect from March Madness.
Here's everything you need to know about what went down on Thursday.
5 BEST GAMES
1. (3) Marquette 59, (14) Davidson 58 (Midwest)
Your humble narrator's Sweet 16 Cinderella pick controlled this game and appeared to have the first major upset of the tournament well in hand with a little over a minute to play.
It was then that Marquette, which had been 1-for-12 from beyond the arc up to that point, found its offense. The Golden Eagles scored 11 points, including three three-pointers, in the final 1:03 to advance to the round of 32. The only shot Buzz Williams' team made from inside the arc during that stretch was Vander Blue's game-winning lay-up, which came just moments after a costly Davidson turnover.
"March Madness," Williams said after the game. "We're lucky to still be standing."
Bonus points for working the brand in there. Marquette gets sixth-seeded Butler on Saturday night.
2. (6) Memphis 54, (11) Saint Mary's 52 (Midwest)
Josh Pastner's first NCAA Tournament win couldn't come without a little drama.
Memphis led by five with less than four seconds to play when Saint Mary's Eividas Petrulis banked in a three-pointer. The Tigers then gave the ball right back to the Gaels when Jordan Giusti deflected the inbound pass off Joe Jackson of Memphis and out-of-bounds. This setup the perfect opportunity for SMC star Matthew Dellavedova to become the first tournament hero of 2013.
"As soon as Delli got the ball in the corner, we all thought it was going to go in," Saint Mary's forward Brad Waldow said. "We knew it was going to go in, but it just didn't fall. That's it."
It didn't happen.
Despite the late-game collapse, Memphis owned this contest for the better part of 40 minutes. The Tigers used their superior athleticism to hold Saint Mary's to 32.8 percent from the field. They also recorded 12 blocked shots, which was 12 more than the Gaels did.
3. (12) California 64, (5) UNLV 61 (East)
Every year there's a 12/5 upset that everyone, including the folks who can't tell you off the top of their heads how many teams are in the NCAA Tournament, has picked in his or her bracket. Typically that upset winds up coming to fruition.
Get ready to hear your secretary/grandmother/co-worker's 4-year-old-son brag about getting Cal over UNLV right. Don't punch them in the stomach. I'm not going to tell you it isn't worth it, because it would be, I just don't advocate violence...not publicly.
Cal threw 40 minutes of zone at UNLV, and Dave Rice's team never looked prepared or willing to properly adapt. The Rebs went more than 11 minutes without a basket in the second half before a furious rally brought them to within a point in the game's closing seconds. Missed free-throws and a costly in-bounds pass turnover (theme) ultimately sealed Cal's first win in the big dance since it beat Louisville back in 2010.
The Golden Bears became the most recent benefactor of a UNLV team that hasn't appeared particularly interested in winning games in the big dance over the past few years. Despite a plethora of talent and some strong regular season performances, the Rebs have now been one-and-done in each of their last three tournament appearances.
4. (1) Gonzaga 64, (16) Southern 58 (West)
The shift happened with just under four minutes to play when Derick Beltran's jumper tied the score at 56. It was at that moment that the college basketball world, which has considered Gonzaga its favorite mid-major son for more than a decade, officially turned on the Bulldogs.
The allure of a 16 seed beating a one for the first time in the history of the tournament is always one of the biggest draws of the event's opening two days. Naturally, America fell in love with the Southern Jaguars for about 20 minutes on Thursday, even though their opponent just so happened to be the team with perhaps the best chance in recent memory to claim a national title for "the little guy."
To their credit, the 'Zags responded in the fashion you'd expect a No. 1 seed to. Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos hit back-to-back three-pointers to build an advantage that the Bulldogs were able to consolidate at the free-throw line. Still, the opening act by Mark Few and company certainly didn't do anything to silence their critics.
5. (14) Harvard 68, (3) New Mexico 62 (West)
The upset of the day happened after a large chunk of America was already asleep, as Harvard stunned third-seeded New Mexico to score the first NCAA Tournament win in program history.
This wasn't a fluke either. Tommy Amaker's team controlled the game from start to finish, limiting the Lobos to 37.5 percent from the field and holding New Mexico's talented trio of guards - Tony Snell, Kendall Williams and High Greenwood - to a combined 17 points. Not one of the stars managed to score in double figures.
The upset means that New Mexico's streak of having never made it to the second weekend of the tournament will persist for at least another 12 months.
3 TEAMS THAT WON IT THE BEST
The Ducks were widely-regarded as the most under-seeded team in the tournament from the moment the brackets were released on Selection Sunday, a distinction which could have made way for a letdown performance on Thursday. Instead, Oregon kept Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart in check and cruised to a second round win over a Cowboy team that many thought was a potential sleeper in the Midwest.
Smart, a likely lottery pick in this June's NBA Draft, shot just 5-for-13 from the field and committed a game-high five turnovers. He received little help from fellow stars Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash, who combined to miss 14 shots.
Instead it was Dana Altman's stars who shined the brightest in San Jose. His freshman backcourt of Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis scored a combined 30 points, while frontcourt workhorse Arsalan Kazemi chipped in 11 points to go with 17 rebounds.
I'm aware of the level of competition the No. 1 overall seed was facing, but still, the Cardinals put on an awfully impressive performance inside their arch-rival's arena.
Louisville set an NCAA Tournament record by recording 20 steals in their rout of No. 16 seed North Carolina A&T. Russ Smith, who also scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, tied a tournament record with eight steals all by himself.
On paper, South Dakota State was so much like Ohio, the 13 seed that upset Michigan a year ago, that more than a few experts were predicting the Wolverines would once again be out of the tournament before Saturday. Instead, UM dominated the Jackrabbits despite getting a minimal contribution from potential national Player of the Year Trey Burke, who suffered what looked to be a scary injury (although it turned out to be nothing) in the second half.
Picking up the slack for Burke was Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 21 points and helped hold SDSU scoring sensation nate Wolters to just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
The Wolverines get VCU next.
3 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
It's not that there were significant, or really any, expectations for the Grizzlies, but...81-34? In a 13/4 game? That's some shameful ish.
Just how bad was it? Check out Montana's "top performers" representative:
It's not like Mr. Weisner had a lot of competition. No player scored more than five points or made more than two shots for Montana, which saw its starting five shoot a combined 7-for-37
I'm sure the Zags know that they provided some solid fodder for their critics, and I'm sure they're fine with that. Still, the fact remains that the Bulldogs became just the seventh No. 1 seed to win its first game in the tournament by less than seven points. They're also just the 13th top dog (pun 100 percent intended) to win their opener by single digits. Not one of those previous 12 teams went on to win the national championship, and only only three of them advanced to the Final Four.
They got a bit of a reprieve for their 2009 run to the Elite 8 (even though it came as a one seed), but Pitt has now officially joined Vanderbilt and Notre Dame in the "can't be trusted in the tournament crew" (CBTITTC). The Panthers, the team everyone you know had upsetting Gonzaga in the round of 32, never really competed against a Wichita State team that isn't exactly ripe with blowout potential.
Pitt has consistently struggled outside of the Big East in recent years, a fact which has to be concerning for a program about to spend the foreseeable future as a member of the ACC.
ALL-DAY 1 TEAM
Derrick Nix, Michigan State
Tom Izzo's main man in the middle dominated the paint against Valpo, scoring a game-high 23 points to go with a game-high 15 rebounds in the Spartans' 65-54 win.
Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis
Despite going up against 7'5 New Mexico State centerSim Bhullar - better known around these parts as Sim City - Evans dropped a game-high 24 points as the Billikens cruised to a 64-44 win.
Russ Smith, Louisville
"Russdiculous" connected on 10 of his first 12 shots to help Louisville put things away early on Thursday night. He finished with 23 points and tied an NCAA Tournament record with eight steals.
Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon
The do-it-all transfer from Rice was the workhorse Oklahoma State had no answer for. He finished with 11 points and a tournament-high 17 rebounds.
Dorian Green, Colorado State
The tournament's high-scorer thus far, Green dropped 17 of his 26 points in the first half of Colorado State's impressive dismantling of Missouri.
5 DAY ONE JEERS
1. The ability of tournament players to hit the rim
There are few things we love here at SB Nation more than a solid airball GIF, but things got a little ridiculous on Thursday.
2. Chane Behanan
When asked earlier in the day how he thought Louisville's game against North Carolina A&T was going to go, Behanan responded simply with: "dunk fest." The 2012 West Region MVP then proceeded to commit an offensive goaltending violation on a ball that was almost completely through the net, and then do this:
That's the opposite of how you start a dunk fest. I can slap backboard, so I would know.
3. Butler bench bro
If there is anything that can put an end to the tired "3-goggles" fad, it's what you're about to see.
The bench bro to his left just looked cooler than he ever could have managed on his own.
4. Verne Lundquist
The longtime announcer and Happy Gilmore star has been slipping in recent years, but his attempt to say "Dellavedova" late in the second half of the Memphis-Saint Mary's game on Thursday was especially painful.
In Verne's defense, two pronunciation attempts is also the maximum I allow myself before just completely giving up.
5. The New Mexico State mascot
He's basically the costume your anti-social best friend begrudgingly dons at the last second once you finally convince him to go to your Halloween party.
BONUS JEER: UNLV's Barry Cheaney
This isn't cool, bro.
Although if you can't laugh at the pre-nut shot look of terror on Allen Crabbe's face, then I don't know what's wrong with you. Probably some sort of gum disease.
5 DAY ONE CHEERS
1. The Pac-12
It's been a rough few years for Pac-12 basketball, but the light at the end of the lightly-attended basketball games tunnel came on Thursday, where they were easily the most dominant conference on the first day of the Tournament. Twelve seeds Oregon and California both advanced in games they led throughout, while Arizona - a six seed plenty of people thought was ripe for the picking - destroyed a good Belmont team.
UCLA and Colorado will look to complete a perfect opening round for the conference on Friday.
2. Colorado State Ram fan costume
Because this level of intensity demands to be celebrated.
I'll say it: star of the tournament so far.
3. The collective hair of the St. Louis Billikens
Because it's glorious.
Maybe glorious isn't the right word. Interesting? Long and blue-streaked? It's long and blue-streaked.
4. Colorado State's rebounding prowess
The Rams have made a living on the glass all season long, and Thursday was no exception. Colorado State dominated Missouri, a team with no shortage of inside presence with Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers, in the rebounding department, 42-19. It's the primary reason the Rams are moving on to face Louisville.
5. Bill Walton
The star of Wednesday and Thursday nights on ESPN2 this season showed up to the Oregon/Oklahoma State game wearing a green and yellow tie-dye pullover, and made little attempt to hide his support for the Pac-12.
5 BEST DUNKS
Pretty mild day in the dunk department, but here's the best of the best.
1. Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State (Just because it's Sim Bhullar)
2. D.J. Stephens, Memphis
3. Branden Dawson, Michigan State
4. D.J. Stephens, Memphis
5. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
5 NOTABLE QUOTES
1. "It was just like, ‘How did that happen?'" -- Davidson guard Tyler Kalinoski
2. "It was like Rick (Majerus) was up on top of the backboard slapping the ball out." --New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies
3."It's just incredible. This is the type of thing you dream about in your backyard playing around and imagining this situation happening. I mean, just for it to actually happen now is incredible. I wouldn't rather do it with anybody else but this group of guys." -- Harvard guard Wesley Saunders
4. "UNLV is having a tough time with the Cal zone" -- TruTV announcer Dan Bonner
5."It was ugly, you know, it was ugly. They played really well. We didn't play well at all. We all know the margin of victory." --Montana coach Wayne Tinkle
FULL DAY 2 SCHEDULE
That was fun. We should do it again soon.
No. 15 Albany Great Danes vs. No. 2 Duke Devils, 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels vs. No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers, 12:40 p.m. ET, TruTV
(No. 13 Boise State Broncos/No. 13 La Salle Explorers) vs. No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats, approx. 3:10 p.m. ET, TruTV
No. 15 Iona Gaels vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones vs. No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, approx. 9:45 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 14 Northwestern State Demons vs. No. 3 Florida Gators, 7:27 p.m. ET, TruTV
No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 7 San Diego State Aztecs, approx. 9:20 p.m. ET, TBS
No. 9 Temple Owls vs. No. 8 North Carolina State Wolfpack, 1:40 p.m ET, TBS
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