The NCAA tournament is all about momentum. Getting out of the round of 64 is the first step to cutting down those nets when it's all said and done, but the truly elite teams do it in style.
Some teams backed into the round of 32. No. 1 seeds Kansas and Gonzaga needed to execute down the stretch to make sure they weren't slayed by No. 16 seeds. Marquette was pushed to the brink by Davidson before the Golden Eagles took advantage of a key mistake by the Wildcats.
Those teams advanced, but you can't feel good about them moving forward.
These teams dominated the action in their first games of the tournament and made the people who picked them confident they'll be rewarded with a run deep into the tournament.
No. 4 Syracuse 81, No. 13 Montana 34
The Orange have looked downright bad at times this season. They lost four out of their last five regular-season games before making a run to the finals of the Big East conference and losing rather handily to Louisville.
Their inconsistency made them a trendy upset pick. They bucked that trend rather quickly. Syracuse beat the Grizzlies from bell to bell and showed that its defense is ready to take the team a long way in the tournament.
An argument could be made that this was what a fourth seed playing a third seed should look like, but when teams like No. 3 New Mexico and No. 2 Georgetown lost, this became an impressive win.
According to TeamRankings.com, Syracuse is one of the most defensively efficient teams in the country. After holding Montana to 34 points, it's a team no one is going to want to play going forward.
No. 11 Minnesota 83, No. 6 UCLA 63
The Golden Gophers entered the tournament with absolutely no momentum. After starting the season 15-1 and finishing a disappointing 20-12, tournament expectations were not very high for this team.
Minnesota instantly elevated those expectations by looking like the 15-1 version of the team from the beginning of the season. UCLA was without Jordan Adams, but this was still an impressive win.
To beat a team with the track record of UCLA is one thing. To beat them by 20 is a statement.
The Gophers forced 14 turnovers and held the Bruins to just 31.7 percent shooting as a team. They were also cold-blooded on offense, knocking down 9-of-16 attempts from beyond the arc and shooting at 50 percent as a team.
Beating Florida will be a tough task in the round of 32, but that's the kind of win that should have the Gators sweating.
No. 4 St. Louis 64, No. 13 New Mexico St. 44
The round of 64 wasn't a banner time for hyped mid-majors.
Gonzaga struggled to put away Southern. New Mexico was the victim of the second-biggest upset of the tournament. UNLV also met an early demise.
However, St. Louis put in one of the best opening performances of the entire field. It played swarming defense, forcing 16 turnovers and holding the Aggies to just 27.9 percent shooting.
The Billikens played efficiently on offense, shooting 46 percent from the field and racking up 17 assists as a team while limiting turnovers to nine.
They took care of business and didn't come close to tasting the upset bug. If they continue to play like that, they'll become a team to watch as the tournament progresses.
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