The opening weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is always one of the best sports times of the year. When you cram 48 games into a four-day period, you are bound to get numerous upsets and memorable moments. What were the most surprising things we witnessed on the tournament’s opening day? Let’s take a look:
5) Pittsburgh’s embarrassment
Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us at this point, but seeing Pittsburgh get embarrassed by Wichita State, losing 73-55, has to be a bit of a surprise. Even if you picked against Pittsburgh, you had to at least expect a better showing…
4) The Pac-12 opens 3-0
A year after the conference won just one game (and sent only two schools), they made a statement. Obviously there wasn’t much expected from the conference, with Oregon and California both being slotted as 12 seeds. However, both were able to pull off the opening round upset. Throw in Arizona’s win and it was a perfect day for the conference.
It’ll be interesting to see if they an advance to the Sweet 16, with Oregon drawing Saint Louis and California taking on Syracuse. That said, for one day the conference proved that they deserved respect.
What was the biggest surprise from Day 1 of the Round of 64?
3) Marquette’s stunning comeback
The early games were filled with near upsets, with 14 seed Davidson almost taking down Marquette. Davidson winning would not have been a surprise, but the way they lost was.
Marquette trailed by six points with just over a minute to go. That’s when they began raining threes on Davidson, hitting three in the final minute despite being tied for 313th in the nation from downtown during the regular season (30.1%). Throw in a key turnover by Davidson with under 10 seconds to go and a beautiful drive to the basket by Vander Blue, and the comeback was complete.
Marquette’s victory obviously wasn’t a surprise, but their stunning comeback in the final minute was.
2) Gonzaga’s struggles against Southern University
Many questioned Gonzaga’s inclusion as a number one seed, so I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised when Gonzaga is ousted from the tournament. That said, I don’t think anyone expected them to nearly be upset on Day 1.
For a long time it looked like NCAA fans could be given the first 16 over one upset, as Belmont actually had the game tied with under four minutes to play. It wasn’t to be, however, as Gonzaga closed on an eight-to-two run.
Sometimes these scares have a way of motivating higher seeds, but time will tell. At this point it seems like the skeptics were on point.
1) Harvard defeating New Mexico
How could anyone have expected Harvard, a team that had never won an NCAA tournament game, to pull off the upset? Maybe more surprising, as the game unfolded it didn’t feel like an upset. They were in the game from the first minute, often leading the action, and ultimately closing out a 68-62 victory.
Could Harvard be this year’s Cinderella story? They will meet Arizona in the Round of 32, but no matter what happens they have put their stamp on the 2013 tournament.
What are your thoughts of the first day of the tournament? What was the biggest surprise to you?
Make sure to check out these other great lists for the 2013 NCAA Tournament: