Whew! I don’t know about all of you, but after the first full day of NCAA tournament action, I’m exhausted but left wanting more. The good news for me is that I can look forward to much more later on today. An action packed day saw that saw things go just as we thought it would and then some things that none of us saw coming. Ah, thats what makes this time of year so great, right?
Denver was the place for upsets on the first full day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
- The biggest upset so far in the brackets occurred in a Southwest regional game in Denver where 13th-seeded Morehead State beat No. 4 seed Louisville 62-61. That was by far the biggest blow to my bracket. I had the Louisville Cardinals advancing to the Sweet 16 before being ousted by the Kansas Jayhawks. Well, so much for that.
- The Kentucky Wildcats are breathing a sigh of relief today after narrowly escaping defeat at the hands of the Princeton Tigers. The Wildcats got 17 points from Darius Miller in their narrow 59-57 win.
- In Tampa, Florida, Michigan State’s tumultuous season ended last night at the hands of the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins won despite missing 17 free throws, nine of them in the final 3:40 while the Spartans were making a barrage of 3-pointers to get back into the game. They advanced to a third-round matchup against No. 2 seed Florida, which beat 15th-seeded UC Santa Barbara 79-51. UCLA led 42-24 at the half and by as many as 23 in the second half before nearly letting the game slip away against a team hoping to make it to a third consecutive Final Four. The Bruins were 30 of 47 from the foul line and only made two field goals over the final eight minutes. Returning most of its key players from last season, Michigan State began the 2010-11 season ranked No. 2 but sputtered against a tough non-conference schedule and really never hit its stride in the Big Ten, either. The inconsistency left Izzo and his players wondering if the Spartans would even extend its string of consecutive NCAA appearances to 14 — third longest in the nation behind Kansas (22) and Duke (16).
- In an upset that I had predicted, the Spiders of Richmond defeated the Commodores of Vanderbilt by a score of 69-66. It was the second upset of the day in Denver, the same place where Morhead St. shocked Louisville. But while Morehead State players fell on the floor, writhing in the celebration, the Spiders simply shook hands and walked to the locker room. This hardly counts as a shocker, especially considering their history in March. Richmond beat an Auburn team led by Charles Barkley during the 1984 NCAA tournament and picked off second-seeded Syracuse in 1991. This is the Spiders’ first NCAA tournament win since they knocked out South Carolina in 1998 as a No. 14 seed, but the reputation has been cemented.Maybe that’s why this win didn’t seem like all that big of surprise for the Atlantic-10 tournament champions, who were only a three-point underdog to the Commodores of the Southeastern Conference.
- The third upset in Denver saw the team known as everybody’s favorite mid-major now turned tournament regular, Gonzaga defeat the Red Storm of St. Johns who were one of the real bright spots of the regular season this year. Gonzaga used its size and strength to muscle around the Red Storm , who were back in the tournament for the first time since 2002. Clearly, St. John’s wasn’t the same team without top rebounder and team leader D.J. Kennedy, who tore his right ACL during the Big East tournament.
That was just day one and we’re only a few hours away from the start of day two. I’m ready, are you?