NCAA Tournament 2016: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for 1st Round

Bleacher Report College Basketball StaffFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2016

NCAA Tournament 2016: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for 1st Round

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    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Were you not entertained?!

    One of the wildest first rounds of NCAA tournament play ever is now in the books, but not before 13 teams seeded ninth or worse pulled off upsets on Thursday or Friday. Seven lower-seeded teams won on Thursday and six more came out on top on Friday, including the biggest shocker of them all with 15th-seeded Middle Tennessee taking out No. 2 seed Michigan State.

    Michigan State was considered one of the top contenders for a national championship with only Kansas getting picked in more pools on ESPN and Yahoo. However, the Spartans were another victim to the madness, with Middle Tennessee leading from start to finish in a shocking upset.

    MTSU was part of a historic run of upsets on Friday, along with ones by No. 13 Hawaii (over No. 4 California) and No. 14 Stephen F. Austin (over No. 3 West Virginia). It marked the first time in NCAA history that teams seeded 13th, 14th and 15th all won on the same day.

    Thursday's upsets included ones by No. 12 seeds Arkansas-Little Rock and Yale.

    Upsets weren't the only thing that made the last two days special, as we also had some wild finishes. That included a pair of buzzer-beaters on Friday, including one on a halfcourt shot that banked in.

    Scroll through for our recaps of all 32 first-round games, then take a breath before getting ready for 16 more contests in the second round on Saturday and Sunday.
     

    Preview analysis on the following slides written by Kerry Miller. Advanced statistics courtesy of KenPom.com.

    Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four.

No. 10 Syracuse 70, No. 7 Dayton 51

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    A dominant second half helped Syracuse pull away from Dayton and avenge its loss in the round of 32 from the 2014 NCAA tournament. 

    The Orange held just a two-point lead at halftime, but a 26-5 run to start the second half became the knockout punch the Flyers couldn't recover from.

    Dayton couldn't figure out the 2-3 zone, and when it did, it failed to convert numerous dunk and layup attempts near the basket. A 45-27 rebounding deficit also contributed to the wide margin on the scoreboard.

    Although many doubted Syracuse's inclusion in the Big Dance, this team showed it can still be a difficult matchup in a single-elimination tournament.

     

    Top Performers

    Malachi Richardson got hot early and kept it going with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists in one of the best games of the year for the freshman. Dayton couldn't get a whole lot going offensively, but Scoochie Smith did end up with 12 points, five assists and five rebounds in a losing effort.

     

    X-Factor

    Jim Boeheim challenged Tyler Roberson earlier in the year, and the junior forward certainly responded in this one with 18 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. His ability to give the Orange second chances on offense was a big difference in this game.

     

    Next Round

    Syracuse will take on the winner of Michigan State and Middle Tennessee State, although the Spartans are the more likely opponent as one of the favorites to win the entire tournament. 

     

    —Update by Rob Goldberg

No. 2 Villanova 86, No. 15 UNC Asheville 56

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

    Villanova appears determined to make a deeper run this March after flaming out in the first weekend the past two seasons. UNC Asheville kept it close early, but the Wildcats were simply too much for the No. 15 seed as they pulled away in the second half.

    Villanova showed off its defensive ability in this one, holding the Bulldogs to 56 points and just 36.8 percent shooting, including just 5-of-17 from three-point range. UNC Asheville also had just 11 assists and 14 turnovers.

    Meanwhile, Villanova utilized a balanced effort with six players scoring at least nine points in the win.

     

    Top Performers

    Daniel Ochefu pounded the ball inside against the undersized opponent, totaling 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in an impressive showing for the big man. Dylan Smith was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

     

    X-Factor

    Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't always make an impact with his scoring, but he did on Friday with four big three-pointers and 14 total points. He is the leader of this team whether it shows up in the box score or not, but he came through on the scoreboard in this one.

     

    Next Round

    Villanova will now try to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 with a matchup against the winner of No. 7 Iowa and No. 10 Temple.

     

    -Update by Rob Goldberg

No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth 75, No. 7 Oregon State 67

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    VCU outworked Oregon State for 40 minutes to pull away and continue the trend of lower seeds winning in the NCAA tournament.

    The Rams finished with a 40-28 advantage on the boards and consistently got to the free-throw line, finishing 17-of-21 from the charity stripe.

    Oregon State came back from a 10-point deficit early in the second half to tie things up at 52-52, but VCU bounced right back with a 13-4 run that ended up being the difference. The Rams continued to crash the boards hard and never looked back as they sealed an eight-point win.

     

    Top Perfor