They don't call it March Madness for nothing.
Four of the tournament's higher-placed seeds lost on Thursday, and there's sure to be more to fall as the preeminent basketball tournament in the country continues on its path towards Atlanta and the Final Four.
Day 1 of the 2013 NCAA tournament was somewhat devoid of the usual big moments that we've come to know and love (buzzer-beaters, mostly), but there was still plenty of good basketball that should be an excellent precursor to the rest of March Madness.
No. 12 Oregon and No. 12 California both moved on during the first day of action, while No. 1 seeds Louisville and Gonzaga survived—the latter in scary fashion—the No. 16 seeds they faced and kept the 38-year streak alive of avoiding being upset by the lowest seed in the tournament.
As the Big Dance prepares to kick off its second full day of action on Friday, we can already pencil in some of the biggest games in the Round of 32. Here's a look at three games you'll need to DVR if you are away from the house on Saturday (as I'm already in the process of doing myself).
No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth vs. No. 4 Michigan—Saturday, March 23
This game should be a barn-burner, in every sense of whatever that word means to you.
Michigan's Big 3 turned into a Big 2 against South Dakota State, but it was still enough to beat the Jackrabbits and move on to the next round. Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke struggled to get things going with his shot, but teammates Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III both scored 21 points to pick up the scoring slack.
On the other side, VCU held the Akron Zips in check in a big way on Thursday night, limiting the opponent to just 42 points and more than doubling that score (88) in the process. The Rams looked like the team to beat in the opening day of action, wreaking their own brand of havoc on the opponent.
Against Michigan, how will this defense fare?
VCU not only has to worry about the talented trio of NBA prospects, but also has to keep high-energy forward Mitch McGary off the glass and contend with the defense that Michigan will also invariably play.
Since the Wolverines are a bit turnover-happy from time to time and the Rams create the most in the nation per game, this should be a fun one to watch. VCU might not have the star-power that Michigan does, but it has all the defense to shut down any offense in this tournament.
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 4 Saint Louis—Saturday, March 23
If you've never heard of, cared about or seen the Saint Louis Billikens, Saturday is going to be your chance to get a look at a team that has a legitimate chance to crash the Final Four party.
Jim Crews' team got off to a hot start and never looked back in the second round against New Mexico State, playing some fearsome defense of its own and holding the opponent to just 44 points in a 20-point win.
Oregon also took hold early and never looked back, and completely out-hustled and out-ran the Oklahoma State Cowboys out of the gym on Thursday. The Ducks got just about any shot they wanted in transition, rebounded well and played great defense in the half-court—all keys to their last two wins over ranked opponents.
It's a battle of the sleeping giants on Thursday.
Oregon certainly has to feel slighted after earning only a No. 12 seed. Saint Louis—the Atlantic-10 champ—got an extremely high seed and has a good spot in the tournament. However, you would likely be lying if you said you've been following what the Billikens have done all season, making for a clash of two teams with a lot to prove.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Wichita State—Saturday, March 23
Upset alert—Gonzaga is going down in the third round.
The Zags barely survived the late onslaught from little-known Southern University on Thursday, getting huge plays from guard Kevin Pangos late after the Kelly Olynyk show kept Gonzaga in the game for most of the afternoon up until that point.
Wichita State, runners-up in the Missouri Valley Conference to the Creighton Bluejays, made quick work of Pittsburgh on Thursday, putting up 47 points in the second-half as the Panthers had no answer for what the Shockers did on offense.
The Shockers gave Pitt's guards fits on Thursday, a trend that could continue against Gonzaga after Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., David Stockton and Elias Harris all had poor games during the first 35 minutes for the Bulldgos.
Speaking of Harris, this is a big game for the senior forward. He shot just 2-of-10 against Southern, and will look for a bounce-back appearance to help take the pressure off the guards in this game. While this isn't the matchup that many of you had circled on your bracket when the tournament began, it's one that deserves plenty of press over the next couple of days.
A No. 1 could be going down, their mascot (Shockers) is the perfect poetic justice to that prediction. Get ready for another weekend chock-full of incredible college basketball action.
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