March Madness fans have been waiting a full year to get back in the bracket game and square off against friends, family and co-workers, and Thursday's full slate of 16 games in the 2013 NCAA tournament gave you the chance to do just that.
Whether your bracket is aching or not, Thursday's games were chalked-full of intrigue, big-time playmakers and stunning upsets, only rivaled by the fact that there are another 16 games scheduled to commence on Friday with the same level of potential as the day before.
Michigan State got the first win of the 2013 tournament and Syracuse took home the last one on Day 1 of the action, but it was the games in between that kicked the level of suspense up a notch and made us all nervously check brackets and scream at the TV until the final buzzer sounded.
From Saint Mary's valiant comeback attempt to Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth's blowout wins, all the way back to Harvard and California's stunning upsets—Day 1 had it all.
Let's take a look at all the scores and recap the first day as it happened.
For a full list of tournament scores and to check and see how your bracket is faring after one day of games, check out NCAA.com's March Madness Live.
Day 3 NCAA Tournament Scores (Thursday, March 21)
No. 3 Michigan State 65, No. 14 Valparaiso 54
No. 6 Butler 68, No. 11 Bucknell 56
No. 9 Wichita State 73, No. 8 Pittsburgh 58
No. 4 Saint Louis 64, No. 13 New Mexico State 44
No. 6 Memphis 54, No. 11 Saint Mary's 52
No. 3 Marquette 59, No. 14 Davidson 58
No. 1 Gonzaga 64, No. 16 Southern 58
No. 12 Oregon 68, No. 5 Oklahoma State 55
No. 1 Louisville 79, No. 16 North Carolina A&T 48
No. 4 Michigan 71, No. 13 South Dakota State 56
No. 6 Arizona 81, No. 11 Belmont 64
No. 12 California 64, No. 5 UNLV 61
No. 8 Colorado State 84, No. 9 Missouri 72
No. 5 VCU 88, No. 12 Akron 42
No. 14 Harvard 68, No. 3 New Mexico 62
No. 3 Syracuse 81, No. 14 Montana 34
Day 3 Recap
Michigan State set the example for the rest of the No. 3 seeds with a commanding win over a No. 14 seed in the opening game on Thursday, a trend that continued all the way down to the last game of the day with No. 3 Syracuse.
Three No. 3 seeds played, and three No. 3 seeds survive.
No. 14 Davidson certainly came the closest to breaking that streak. The Wildcats, riding a 17-game winning streak heading into Thursday's matchup with Marquette, had the Golden Eagles on the rope for most of the game.
It took an incredible comeback for Marquette to even sniff this win, and Vander Blue's lefty scoop with one second remaining squashed Davidson's comeback attempt and sent a team that looked certain to get an early upset home early instead.
The mid-majors were also making noise on Thursday.
Atlantic 10 trio Saint Louis, Butler and VCU all won by at least 12 points, the last of which doubled their opponents' score, 88-42. After a full season of being ranked nationally and earning three of the highest seeds mid-majors have ever garnered (No. 4, 6 and 5, respectively), these three teams proved there was plenty of substance behind the selection committee's choices.
It was a disappointing day for Bucknell (matched up with Butler) and Belmont, both of which will be going home early. The Bisons couldn't make a serious push at the Bulldogs to make things interesting, while Rick Byrd's team struggled with Arizona's athleticism and now drops to 0-6 in six NCAA tournament appearances.
No. 4 Michigan, No. 9 Wichita State, No. 8 Colorado State and No. 12 Oregon all took care of business. Michigan outlasted South Dakota State with a barrage of threes from Tim Hardaway Jr., while the two mid-seeds played to comfortable finishes and Oregon continued its hot streak from the Pac-12 tournament championship.
Now—to the upsets.
Or at least a near-upset first, as No. 1 Gonzaga did everything it could to lose to No. 16 Southern. The Jaguars played a heck of a game and got a few favorable bounces on offense, but no one can deny they made the Zags' guards uncomfortable and frustrated during the early part of the game.
Kelly Olynyk kept Gonzaga afloat in the interim (21 points) and Kevin Pangos woke up enough (eight of the team's final 10 points) to avoid being the first team in the 38-year history of the 16-1 matchup to go down as the higher seed.
No. 6 Memphis also avoided a big collapse on Thursday after No. 11 Saint Mary's comeback attempt fell short. The Gaels were down big early, but had a chance to win it after a late turnover gave them the ball with a chance to tie or win the game. Big-time shooter Matthew Dellavedova took a corner three as time expired, but he and the Gaels were just off in this game and are heading home because of it.
The big shockers of the day go to No. 12 California and No. 14 Harvard. Both teams were facing two big winners from the Mountain West, and neither seemed to care. California was playing in front of a favorable crowd in San Jose, and it showed throughout. Allen Crabbe willed the Golden Bears to a second-round win, while the defense held UNLV to 32.2 percent shooting.
Harvard, not even expected to compete in the Ivy League without seniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry (via Sports Illustrated), went ahead and won its conference anyway and sent the New Mexico Lobos home early. Harvard's pace and patience doomed the Lobos from the start, and Harvard shot over 52 percent in the Wisconsin-like win.
It was Harvard's first tournament win, a stat that helps cement the greatness of the NCAA tournament.
Day 3's Top Performers
F Derrick Nix, Michigan State
Nix had 23 points, 15 rebounds and two steals in his team's big win over Valpo to open up the round of 64 on Thursday, leading all scorers in the game and picking up the slack for Michigan State's supporting cast.
The Spartans had a clear advantage inside, and Nix took that matchup to the bank on Thursday afternoon. He was able to get easy baskets, get to the foul line and make the most of his trips on the defense end, while Michigan State set to the tone for the other No. 3 seeds on the day.
G Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith had 23 points and eight steals against North Carolina A&T, the latter stat tying a tournament record (steals became official stats in 1986).
The young guard can be the key to a deep tournament run if he continues to play motivated defense and avoids turnovers himself on the offensive end, certainly a problem during Louisville's earlier losses this season.
On Thursday, though, Smith was as good as advertised. He and the Cards cruised to a Day 1 win over the No. 16 seed.
C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Where will Olynyk be drafted in June?
As mentioned in the recap section, Olynyk carried the Bulldogs with his play on Thursday.
He had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and used an impressive display of body control both around the basket when he caught the ball inside and in maneuvering around off of teammates in pick-and-roll situations.
Olynyk took full-advantage of his basketball IQ and had one stretch where he took over the game for Zags—which was exactly what the team needed with a struggling Pangos and a no-show from forward Elias Harris (six points on 2-of-10 shooting). Olynyk increased his NBA draft stock with this showing.
F Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Tim Hardaway Jr. will get all the headlines, and deservedly so. But it was Robinson that was the model of both efficiency and scoring as Trey Burke struggled to get it going against South Dakota State.
Robinson III had 21 points and only missed one shot the entire afternoon. He was 8-of-9 from the field, 2-of-2 from the free-throw line and 3-of-3 from the deep, while adding six rebounds, a steal and good defense on Jackrabbits guard Nate Wolters in the process.
An all-around great game for an all-around great player in the making, Robinson III made his father proud with this one as Michigan now looks ahead to VCU in the round of 32.
Complete Day 4 Schedule (Friday, March 22)
|Mar. 22||(15) Albany (NY) vs. (2) Duke||12:15||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(12) Ole Miss vs. (5) Wisconsin||12:40||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(9) Temple vs. (8) North Carolina St.||1:40||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(15) Pacific vs. (2) Miami (FL)||2:10||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(10) Cincinnati vs. (7) Creighton||2:45||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(13) La Salle vs. (4) Kansas St.||3:10||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(16) James Madison vs. (1) Indiana||4:10||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(10) Colorado vs. (7) Illinois||4:45||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(15) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (2) Georgetown||6:50||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(15) Iona vs. (2) Ohio State||7:15||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(9) Villanova vs. (8) North Carolina||7:20||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(14) Northwestern St. vs. (3) Florida||7:27||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(10) Oklahoma vs. (7) San Diego St.||9:20||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(10) Iowa State vs. (7) Notre Dame||9:45||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(16) W. Kentucky vs. (1) Kansas||9:50||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(11) Minnesota vs. (6) UCLA||9:57||truTV|
Link to Printable PDF
Link to Live Bracket
Follow all the exciting NCAA tournament action with March Madness Live.