Most Amazing Moments from Round of 64
The NCAA men's basketball tournament never disappoints. It is the most exciting event of the sports calendar every year.
The Thursday and Friday games that make up round of 64 consistently deliver must-see action.
This year, one No. 14 seed beat a three seed, three 12 seeds beat No. 5 seeds and two No. 11 seeds beat six seeds.
What an incredible first two days of March Madness 2014.
Here are the most amazing moments from round of 64.
10. Marcus Smart Goes O-2 for March Madness
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart has had a ton of individual success in his two years in college basketball. Ironically, he has not been able to help his team win a single March Madness game in his two years in Stillwater.
OSU lost on Friday to Gonzaga, 85-77. No one can blame Smart for not trying to do enough to help the Cowboys win their opening game in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
Against the 'Zags, he had 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and six steals. Who has that type of line?
One of the reasons he returned to campus for his sophomore year instead of entering the 2013 NBA draft was to make a run at the national championship.
Foxsports.com relayed the words from his press conference, where he announced last April that he was coming back to OSU:
All my life, I've been a winner, you know, back-to-back state championships and then to come in and finally make the NCAA tournament. Just all my life I've been winning. But this team, I felt like we had a lot more to accomplish. We were a lot better team than that. That's just not the way we wanted to go out. It helped me a little bit to get motivated to come back this year.
With Smart at the point, I am surprised that the Cowboys were knocked out in their first game again this year.
9. Manhattan Almost Knocks off Defending Champs
Manhattan was up 58-55 on the defending national champs, Louisville, with less than four minutes to go.
The Jaspers had outshot and outplayed the Cardinals for much of the second half.
The New York Daily News' John Harper detailed Pitino's irritation over playing the Jaspers because they are coached by his former assistant, Steve Masiello.
Scout.com's Evan Daniels tweeted: "Random Note: To go with Steve Masiello, all three Manhattan assistant coaches have worked for Rick Pitino in some capacity."
8. Roy Williams Is 24-0 in Round of 64
When North Carolina beat Providence on Friday evening, it was a nice win for the Tar Heels in their unpredictable 2013-14 season.
On a bigger scale, this close-call victory preserved an impressive string of first-round success.
UNC head coach Roy Williams is now 24-0 in round of 64 games. 12-0 at Kansas. 12-0 at Carolina.
Williams has never had an opening-game exit.
Mike Krzyzewski cannot claim that. Lute Olson lost his share of first games. John Thompson III has bowed out early.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted that "Friday's 2-point win was the closest call."
7. Adreian Payne Goes for 41
Michigan State's Adreian Payne scored a career-high and school-tournament-record 41 points as the Spartans defeated No. 13 seed Delaware.
We can file this under "big players coming up big in big games."
Payne went 10-of-15 from the field, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and 17-of-17 from the free-throw line. His FT accuracy was the most made free-throw attempts in an NCAA tournament game without a miss.
Jason McCallum, senior researcher with ESPN Stats & Info, tweeted that Payne is the "2nd player in Tournament history to score 40, shoot 67% FG and 100% FT... the other was Bill Bradley in 1965."
6. Cameron Ridley Hits Buzzer-Beater
Texas' Cameron Ridley rebounded a missed Longhorn shot and put it back in as time expired to beat Arizona State 87-85.
Besides his last-second heroics, Ridley led UT in scoring with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted that Ridley's buzzer-beater was the "first basket with no time left to win tournament game since Matt Howard (Butler vs Old Dominion, 2011)."
This was Texas' first NCAA tournament win since 2011, when the Horn beat Oakland 85-81.
5. Dayton Flyer Vee Sanford's Last-Second Drive
Dayton's senior guard, Vee Sanford, hit a layup with 3.8 seconds left to put the Flyers ahead and knock off in-state rival Ohio State, 60-59.
OSU point guard Aaron Craft drove the length of the court to launch a 10-foot shot at the buzzer that rolled off the rim, wrapping up the upset victory for Dayton.
This is the kind of game that makes March Madness so amazing. A school like Dayton does not normally get a chance to play an in-state big boy like Ohio State.
Archie Miller's Flyers were ready to play from the onset. They did not look intimidated at all to face the Buckeyes.
4. Harvard Upsets Cincinnati
Harvard's Wesley Saunders hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to finish off an exciting upset victory, 61-57, against Cincinnati.
The Crimson have won their first game of the NCAA tournament for the last two years.
Harvard coach Tommy Amaker's squad beat three-seeded New Mexico in its opening game of 2013 March Madness.
This win had some historic implications.
ESPN Stats & Info said that "Harvard is the first Ivy League team to win a game in consecutive NCAA Tournaments since Princeton did so in 1983-84."
It also said that Harvard is "the third team to win a game in the Round of 64 in consecutive years as a 12-seed or lower. The other two teams 2008-09 Western Kentucky and 2002-03 Tulsa."
SFA Conquers 'Havoc'
Stephen F. Austin used a four-point play by Desmond Haymon with 3.6 seconds left in regulation to send its game against Virginia Commonwealth into overtime.
In the extra session, the Lumberjacks outscored the Rams 10-8, securing SFA's first NCAA tournament win in only its second March Madness appearance.
The Jacks did a decent job of handling VCU's vaunted "Havoc" press. Most teams that survive "Havoc" have a better chance at beating the Rams.
It is amazing how, with the passing of a few years, teams change from being the hunter to the hunted. VCU, a short time ago, had to win a play-in game just to make the field of 68.
Now, Shaka Smart's squad is on the other end of the 5-12 matchup.
North Dakota State Ousts Oklahoma
North Dakota State's Lawrence Alexander knocked down a three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation to force overtime against Oklahoma, where the Bison bumped off the Sooners, 80-75.
The state of North Dakota was 0-forever in the NCAA tournament until Thursday night.
This was NDSU's second March Madness appearance. The other time was in 2009 when the Bison lost to Kansas in the first round.
This season, North Dakota State was the nation's best field-goal percentage team (50.9 percent).
Mercer Sends Duke Back to Durham
Maybe we should start expecting the Atlantic Sun champions to pull off monster upsets every year from now on.
Mercer, a No. 14 seed, knocked off Duke 78-71 using a starting lineup made of five seniors. This was Mercer's first time playing in the NCAA tournament since 1985.
Last year, No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast made it to the Sweet 16 after beating Georgetown and San Diego State.
The Bears were down one point after the first 20 minutes and outscored the Blue Devils 44-36 in the second half.
This was the second time in three years that Duke lost in its opening March Madness game. The Blue Devils lost to No. 15 seed Lehigh in 2012.