Box scores can be deceiving in sports but one thing can not—brackets, and the teams that move on to the next round in those brackets, at that.
The 2013 NCAA tournament is off to a great start, with four higher-seeded teams going down on Thursday and more sure to follow over the next two weeks of action as we get ready to watch these teams battle it out for a spot in Atlanta's Final Four.
Your bracket might look good and it might not—so goes the slippery slope of having to select 67 winners before the games ever get going.
In any event, the scores from Thursday are in the books, and whether you watched the action or not they are available to be analyzed as the winners prepare to move on and the losers prepare to go home. Stat lovers unite, because we've got you covered with the most surprising three scores of the opening day of the 64-team bracket.
For a complete look at Thursday's second-round game scores, check out NCAA.com.
No. 1 Gonzaga 64, No. 16 Southern 58
Right off the bat, the Zags almost became the first team in 38 years to lose their opening-round game as the No. 1 seed.
Southern, the No. 16 seed hailing from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), gave the Bulldogs all they wanted in this game, both on offense, behind Derick Beltran's 21 points; and on defense, where the Jaguars kept Gonzaga at bay for most of the evening.
However, Kelly Olynyk kept his team in the game with 21 points of his own, and showed a bevy of moves both around the basket and in the pick-and-roll game that will be valuable game film for NBA teams come June.
Back to the game—Southern had this thing tied at 54 with a little over four minutes to play, but Kevin Pangos turned it on with a jumper, an assist to Gary Bell Jr. for a three, a three of his own and two free-throws to seal it. He was involved in all of the team's scoring plays during the final 10 points.
Even so, the outcome was surprising in nature, and casts some doubt over the nation's top team being able to reach the Final Four in Atlanta in the process.
No. 5 VCU 88, No. 12 Akron 42
Defense, offense—this one had it all in Auburn Hills on Thursday night.
Virginia Commonwealth scored 50 points in the first half, increased that total to 88 by the end of the game and held the Akron Zips to just 42 points on the evening in the lopsided win. Akron was missing a few key players (Alex Abreu among them), but there's no excuse for this kind of loss other than playing a dominant team.
Which team plays better defense?
By comparison to their regular-season efforts, the Rams had a ho-hum night on defense. The team forced 21 turnovers, had 11 steals and held the Zips to just under 35 percent shooting from the floor—all numbers that fall in line with the team's nation-leading stats (11.8 steals per game, 8.0 turnover differential).
However, it was the offense that was going on Thursday, making VCU a true dual-threat team and one that has the potential to take home the championship. While the Rams have struggled to beat Saint Louis and some other teams this year, their brand of defense is matched only by the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals.
VCU will have to get past Michigan (playing in its home state) in the third round, but if the Rams can go at that task with the same vigor they did on Thursday then another blowout is certainly possible.
No. 14 Harvard 68, No. 3 New Mexico 62
The sign of a humble man is admitting he was wrong, and that's exactly what I'm doing by reporting this score.
Like many other pundits, I didn't give Harvard much shot on Thursday night against the Mountain West-champion New Mexico Lobos, but that's hardly the reason that this score makes it into our list for the most surprising upsets.
When the season started, no one gave Harvard a chance.
Seniors and former co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry got caught in a nasty cheating scandal (via Sports Illustrated) that ruined their final season in the Ivy League, but it didn't stop Harvard from picking up the pieces and getting the job done in both league play and the start to this tournament.
The Crimson played a Wisconsin-like pace, had balanced scoring and slowed down the game enough to keep New Mexico off balance, and ended up winning by six in a game that no one gave them much of a chance in (this writer included).
As noted by ESPN's SportsCenter account on Twitter, only a handful of people put Harvard through to the next round:
It was shocking, a win for the little guys and a game that made up for the lack of buzzer-beaters and rim-rattling dunks by a long-shot at the end of Thursday's slate of games. Like the rest of the teams on this list, Harvard emerged in a game score that we didn't expect.
If there's one thing you can expect over the next three weeks, it's that you're guess is as good as the rest of the world when it comes to what the final score will look like when the final buzzer sounds in the next few games of March Madness.
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