Oh, March Madness. With an equal portion of jubilance and heartbreak that can be witnessed during each and every matchup, the NCAA tournament is more emotional than a daytime soap opera.
And after less than 24 hours into the Big Dance, the bracket has already taken a much different form than anyone could have predicted.
In fact, through just the first four games of the round of 64, millions of brackets had already taken a turn for the worse, as SportsCenter points out:
After the tip of the tournament with No. 11 Dayton taking out No. 6 Ohio State, the Flyers put their stamp on the NCAA tournament lore. With Cincinnati falling to Harvard shortly after, the Flyers were also the unofficial kings of Ohio, as Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports notes:
Goodbye Xavier, Ohio State, Cincinnati. Dayton has the state of Ohio to itself now.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 20, 2014
While the early games in the tournament have already provided plenty of drama, it won't stop over the course of the first weekend and into the Sweet 16. Here's a look at a few of the latest storylines and Day 2 picks for the NCAA tournament.
|Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream||Pick|
|No. 14 Mercer vs. No. 3 Duke||12:15 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com||Duke|
|Nebraska No. 11 vs. No. 6 Baylor||12:40 p.m.||truTV||NCAA.com||Baylor|
|No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 7 New Mexico||1:40 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com||Stanford|
|No. 16 Weber St vs. No. 1 Arizona||2:10 p.m.||TNT||NCAA.com||Arizona|
|No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 6 UMass||2:45 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com||UMass|
|No. 14 UL-Lafayette vs. No. 3 Creighton||3:10 p.m.||truTV||NCAA.com||Creighton|
|No. 15 Eastern Ky. vs. No. 2 Kansas||4:10 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com||Kansas|
|No. 9 Oklahoma St. vs. No. 8 Gonzaga||4:40 p.m.||TNT||NCAA.com||Oklahoma St.|
|No. 9 Geo. Wash. vs. No. 8 Memphis||6:55 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com||Memphis|
|No. 16 Cal Poly vs. No. 1 Wichita St.||7:10 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com||Wichita St.|
|No. 11 Providence vs. No. 6 North Carolina||7:20 p.m.||TNT||NCAA.com||UNC|
|No. 12 SF Austin vs. No. 5 VCU||7:27 p.m.||truTV||NCAA.com||SF Austin|
|No. 16 Coastal Carolina vs. No. 1 Virginia||9:25 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com||Virginia|
|No. 9 Kansas St. vs. No. 8 Kentucky||9:40 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com||Kentucky|
|No. 14 N.C. Central vs. No. 3 Iowa St.||9:50 p.m.||TNT||NCAA.com||Iowa St.|
|No. 13 Tulsa vs. No. 4 UCLA||9:57 p.m.||truTV||NCAA.com||UCLA|
Who Will Be This Year's Cinderella?
It may be early, but there are a few clear candidates to wear this year's glass slipper.
With two No. 12 seeds in Harvard and North Dakota State winning along with No. 11 Dayton pulling off the stunner over in-state foe Ohio State, all three stand a shot at making the Sweet 16 and possibly even more.
In fact, NDSU clearly has no problem being this year's breakout team, per their official Twitter account:
We'll gladly be your Cinderella, America.— NDSU Basketball (@NDSUmbb) March 21, 2014
The Bison are a stellar shooting team that hung around just long enough with Oklahoma to eventually pull off the huge upset. SportsCenter points out that the team has never been to the tournament before in the history of the program:
Ain't no party like a Fargo party! North Dakota State wins its first EVER game in the NCAA tourney, knock off 5-seed Oklahoma in OT, 80-75.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 21, 2014
While NDSU is a fresh team with high hopes, Harvard and Dayton look like teams with both confidence and the firepower to take down any team.
The Crimson made it to the round of 32 last season before falling short. But with Tommy Amaker still at the helm, Harvard is a more than capable team going up against Michigan State. Unfortunately for the Crimson, the offensive buzz saw of Adreian Payne might be what holds them back from a Sweet 16 berth.
As for Dayton, the Flyers' triumph over Ohio State means they will face off with Syracuse, another program that struggled down the stretch. The Flyers will need another great defensive effort to stop C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis and the Orange, but it's not quite as daunting as facing other No. 4 seeds like MSU or Louisville would be.
Each team still has reason for optimism heading into Saturday's slate of games, but will need another resounding effort to reach the second weekend of play.
Can the Spartans Run the Table After Huge Win?
Everyone's favorite team to win the entire tournament—even President Barack Obama—got off to a rousing start by dismantling Delaware, 93-78, and advancing to the round of 32 in Spokane.
The Spartans look like much more than just a trendy pick after the win, and that's thanks to the efforts of Payne. The senior finished with 41 points against Delaware, a school record during a tournament game and the highest in any contest since 1995, per the team's official Twitter account:
Adreian Payne has scored an MSU NCAA Tournament-record 35 points, breaking previous mark held by Greg Kelser (34 vs. Notre Dame, 1979).— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 20, 2014
Adreian Payne (41 points) becomes first Spartan player to reach 40-point mark in a game since Shawn Respert had 40 vs. Indiana in 1995.— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) March 20, 2014
With Payne playing some of the best basketball of his career, it's only a matter of time before Gary Harris breaks out on the big stage. The sophomore put up 10 points during the opener for Sparty, but he has averaged 17.1 points throughout the season.
The future lottery pick in the NBA draft stayed one more season with Tom Izzo and Michigan State for this purpose exactly, per Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News:
I came back because I feel like we have a chance to go to the national championship. And that’s one of my main goals and we’re all focusing on, working hard and doing whatever we have to do to win.
We still have six games left that we want to win. Going into the Big Ten tournament we said we were going to go on a nine-game winning streak, so we have three so far and got six more and I feel like we still have something to prove.
After coalescing late in the season, the Spartans appear to be one of the strongest teams in the tournament despite their No. 4 seed—much like last year's champion Louisville. Following a huge win over the Blue Hens, Michigan State looks the part as a national championship contender.
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