Joe Yanarella here, Editor-in-Chief of Bleacher Report and College hoops fan extraordinaire. For the next 12 hours I'll be blogging about everything March Madness-oriented, as I give you my own unique insight into the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Let the Madness begin!
NOTE: To check out my blog of all nighttime NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament action, go here
FINAL SCORES FROM TODAY'S AFternOON ACTION
No. 11 Old Dominion 51, No. 6 Notre Dame 50
No. 7 BYU 99, No. 10 Florida 92, Double OT
No. 2 Villanova 73, No. 15 Robert Morris, OT
No. 13 Murray State 66, No. 4 Vanderbilt 65
No. 3 Baylor 68, No. 14 Sam Houston State 59
No. 2 Kansas State 82, No. 15 North Texas 62
No. 10 St. Mary's 80, No. 7 Richmond 71
No. 5 Butler 77, No. 12 UTEP 59
7:10 Culpepper gets clobbered going for a dunk with 90 seconds left. Don't you let him have that up 16 as opposed to taking the guy out? Now that Butler's clinched the win, I'm signing off and switching over to our night-time blog. Thanks for checking out the blog.
7:03 Butler ties the record for most 3s in an opening-round game with 12. Ouch. That hurts. Butler outscoring UTEP 41-19 in the second half. Almost time to sign off this blog and start up a new one for the night.
6:58 Now that things are slowing down, let's talk about the big stories of the first round of games. Definitely Murray State and ODU. Concerns that Nova might not be around long. Big names to emerge from today, Jimmer Fredette of BYU with 37 and Danero Thomas of Murray State and his buzzer beat. Biggest flops from today? Luke Harangody who was 0 for 7 from the field heading into the last minute or two of the game. Maybe he and Thabeet can exchange Big East memories in the D League.
6:56 The only question now is whether UTEP can lose by less than 10. I'll say they'll lost by 9.
6:47 This game is over. UTEP has 6 points in 11 minutes while Mack has 6 3s for Butler. That's not a good ratio.
6:39 UTEP has 4 points in 8 minutes so far in the second half. That's officially a drought.
6:36 Well that went up in flames pretty quickly. Mack catches fire. Caracter can't get a touch and Butler's on a 20-4 run. That'll cost me 2 rounds in my bracket. I guess I'll be rooting for Murray State on Saturday.
6:29 Derrick Caracter is getting jobbed out there. He just got run into by a Butler player and called for a block, 2 quick fouls in 30 seconds. Mack drills his 3rd 3 of the second half and Butler goes up 5. Starting to slip away from the Miners.
6:21 That didn't take long. Mack drills 2 3s and UTEP falls into its usual pattern of bad shot selection and turnovers. It's never easy with the Miners.
6:15 Let's start warming up for the night-time action. I'm thinking Northern Iowa is going to figure out a way to sneak by UNLV. UNI is a veteran team that plays tough defensively, shares the ball and can stick the 3. I don't have a good read on the Washington-Marquette game, I can see that going either way. While I'm down on the Pac-10 like everyone else, Isiah Thomas and Justin Pondexter are big-time for the Huskies. I'm hoping that San Diego State can sneak by Bruce Pearl and his orange blazer. The rest of the games are blowouts or yawners and the most interesting thing might be the start of the John Wall show.
6:12 OK, it's time to carb up and start to get ready for the round of night games. Need to restock the beer in the fridge and maybe take my first bathroom break of the day (I know, I know, TMI).
6 p.m. Well we've got our first down time of the day with UTEP leading by six at the half and all 7 other early games finished. Let me just say this, Derrick Caracter is a MAN! He's unstoppable down low. I've got UTEP in a Thinking Man's pool where you get to take one team per region and every time they win, you get the total points for whatever that team is seeded. So that'll be a nice 12 points if UTEP can pull this off.
5:45 You gotta give St. Mary's credit. They traveled all the way across the country for what was essentially a 12 noon game their time and really stuck it to Richmond. And the Spiders were no slouch either. Does that bode well for Gonzaga tonight in their game against Florida State?
5:43 With Kansas State winning by 20 (Final Four, here we come!) and St. Mary's up by 12 with 2 minutes left, UTEP-Butler is the last remaining game on the board of interest. Tied with four minutes left in the first half, the Miners have great talent but are prone to bad shots and can play out of control at times. The exact opposite of Butler. A nice contrasts in styles.
5:39 Butler storms back with a 12-2 lead to take the lead by a basket. This one is going to be tight all game.
5:37 Up 19 with 1:50 left, Frank Martin finally pulls his starters. He still doesn't look happy.
5:33 UTEP's Culpepper just threw down a MONSTER dunk. Send it in big fella! How's that for emotion Matt King? Yes!
5:29 Up 14, K State's Frank Martin goes nuts, screaming at his players and putting Jacob Pullen back in the game despite being sent to the lockerroom with an injury. I would not want to listen to him after the game.
5:23 UTEP off to an early three-point lead against Butler while St. Mary's has built a 12-point lead against Richmond.
5:17 The last game of the first block tips off with UTEP vs. Butler. Unfortunately, I don't think this Butler team is as good as some of the previous versions, despite returning four starters. They haven't beat a top opponent all year and Matt Howard gets into foul trouble vs. quality big men which is what Derrick Caracter is.
5:09 Jacob Pullen gets clobbered by a North Texas player and lands hard on his back and elbow and is taken to the lockerroom. That would be a huge loss for the Wilcats.
5:02 The tournament has hit a little bit of a lull with Kansas State up 21 with 13 to go and St Mary's up three with 15 left. Here's hoping St. Mary's and Richmond turns into another last-second shot.
4:46 One buzzer beater in the books and now Baylor tied at the under 4 timeout. Uh oh, pull this out Bears.
4:43 And there's your first buzzer beater. Murray State knocks down a jumper at the buzzer and goodbye Vandy, don't let the glass slipper hit you on the way out.
4:40 Murray has the ball with :04 left down 1 looking for the buzzer beating win.
4:27 Murray State turnover with 22 seconds left and Vandy calls a time out. We're looking at a buzzer beater here.
4:34 Murray State scores to take a three-point lead but the big Saucy Aussie AJ Ogilvy lays one in to cut it to 64-63 with :57 left.
4:33 Vandy splits a pair of FTs and trails by a point with 90 seconds left. Come on Murray State, hold them off. Baylor tied with 10 minutes left against Sam Houston and Richmond-St. Mary's tied at the half.
4:26 Murray State knocks another 3. Up 2 with 2:28 left. Let's go Racers. I've got Murray State and UTEP each winning in the first round.
4:24 Freshman Jenkins steps up huge for Vandy and gives Dores a four-point lead before Murray State answers with a 3. Vandy one-point lead with 3 to go.
4:20 This is one of the few times all day when all four games are being played. Sam Houston State goes on a 5-0 run to take a two-point lead with 14 left. Baylor could be in trouble here. That would definitely blow up a lot of brackets because I know they were a sexy dark-horse pick. (And I picked them too).
4:17 Randy Bennett has had 10 Aussies play for him during his tenure as coach of St. Mary's. Is he driving to the border and sneaking them across? And I'll spare you any Crocodile Dundee or Men at Work jokes.
4:14 The Sandman has 16 of St. Mary's 21 points but they're still down three points to Richmond. This is gonna be a fun game. The pace has begun to pick up in Baylor-Sam Houston. The first half was painful to watch as the Bears looked befuddled against the triangle-and-two defense.
4:13 I've now seen my second "Hot Tub Time Machine" commercial. Did John Cusack lose a bet to someone?
4:07 K State builds its lead to 12 as Jacob Pullen's beard scores. Isn't that beard like the best in all of sports? I'm thinking a slideshow about the best beards in sports. He looks way cooler than that scraggly Robin Lopez.
4:01 My boy Rory Brown who's attending the San Jose regional as part of his own personal bachelor party, informs me that there are a lot of UTEP fans in the arena. NICE! Go Miners! I love Derrick Caracter and UTEP.
3:57 Murray State just can't hit any FTs. They miss a pair that could put them up 10 and then Vandy goes on 6-0 run to cut it to 2. St. Mary's and Richmond tip off in a great first-round matchup. It's Richmond's guards vs. the 3-point shooting of St. Mary's and the inside play of Omar "The Sandman" Samhan.
3:46 K State and Baylor both in dogfights with lower seeds and Notre Dame gonged and Nova wins in OT. Did anyone say the Big East and Big 12 are overrated?
3:44 Murray State jumps out to a six-point lead. Are we going to see our first Cinderella? The worst part is that people in the know won't even consider it an upset because the Racers have won 30 games and Vandy is an underachieving bunch.
3:42 K State down 1 5 minutes into the games. What's the over/under on camera shots of a bug-eyed Wildcats coach Frank Martin?
3:40 Goggles boy Clavell just drew a foul and sent some Baylor dude flying Then he offered to help him up. Missed both FTs though. Should've left the guy alone.
3:38 Thues due with the goggles for Sam Houston St. is killing Baylor. I don't even know his name and my guess is Baylor coach Scott Drew doesn't either but he's killing guys.
3:35 OK, now that I've got some food in me, let's get back to it. Murray St with a 4-point lead at the half. Triangle and two defense by Sam Houston is frustrating Baylor and they're tied with 3 minutes left in the half. K State has a one-point lead early and Richmond-St. Mary's, a game I can't wait to see, tips off in 15 minutes.
3:20 Wow thath was a flurry of activity. Gotta carb up with some chips and another cold one to get ready for the next barn-burner.
3:15 Three at the buzzer is off the mark for Robert Morris and Villanova survives for a 3-point win. Baylor and Murray State hold 2-point leads in the other games in the first half.
3:11 Robert Morris lay-up blocked with 15 seconds left down 3. Redding passes up an uncontested layup and instead splits 2 FTs. Morris comes back and whacks a 3 with 10 seconds left. Scottie Reynolds to go to the line up 1.
3:08 Bobby Mo comes up with a steal to cut the Nova lead to one with 35 seconds left.
3:03 Nova hits a dagger 3 with 1 minute left and 2 seconds on the shot clock to go up six. Baylor struggling out of the gate, only scoring 3 points in the first five minutes as Sam Houston State has jumped out to a 7-point lead. Triangle and two is befuddling Baylor.
2:58 BYU survives in double OT as Jimmer pours in 37 and the Cougars win 99-92 over Florida. This was definitely a game that Florida could have and should have won.
2:55 Nova pulls ahead by 4 in OT. This is where Robert Morris starts to fade. Baylor tips off against Sam Houston.
2:50 Scottie Reynolds rejected with one second left, Nova could be headed to OT.
2:49 Robert Morris misses and Nova calls time out with 25 seconds left and the ball.
2:44 Robert Morris scores with a minute left to take a two-point lead. I expect Scottie Reynolds will be attacking the basket.
2:43 Robert Morris splits two free throws to take a one-point lead with 90 seconds left. Scottie Reynolds attacks the basket and gets 2 shots. And Jimmer Fredette waves up to the camera after getting knocked down on a shot.
2:39 We're headed to double OT between Florida and BYU. Florida had the lead down the stretch in regulation and in OT. Can BYU wriggles out of this somehow? Nova down 2 with 2 minutes left. I'm going to say they don't pull it out and the first 2 teams out of the tourney are both from the Big East.
2:37 Great steal by Florida and they call their last time out with 18 seconds left in a tie game. Will we see double OT? I once saw Kerry Kittles and Nova go triple OT with Old Dominion, coached by Jeff Capel's dad. But that was a long time ago.
2:35 Vandy-Murray State underway. Let's go Racers. BYU and Florida tied with 90 seconds to go. Baylor to tip off in 15 minutes. I LOVE Baylor, my dark horse for the Final Four.
2:32 Robert Morris lead up to 8 at under 4 timeout. Uh-oh, I'm smelling an upset.
2:28 Gators killed BYU on the boards, 2 offensive rebounds results in a two-point Florida lead in OT. BYU looks like they're wearing down and on their way out.
2:26 BYU prayer at the buzzer misses and the Gators and Cougars are headed to OT. Florida had all the monentum heading to OT, we'll see if it carries over. Nova cuts the Robert Morris lead to 2 with 5:30 left. My guess is Nova wins a close one.
2:20 We've got our first final, Notre Dame falls as potential game-tying three rattles in and out and Harangody follow at the buzzer doesn't matter. 51-50 ODU. BYU-Florida tied with 18 seconds left. Could be headed to OT.
2:14 Florida on 25-9 run to take a 3-point lead with 2 minutes left.
2:12 ODU misses front end up 3 with 26 seconds left. ND timeout looking for a 3 to tie.
2:10 Harangody misses with 1 minute left and now he's on an 0-for-7 donut. ODU up 2 with :56 left.
2:09 The Robert Morris lead has swelled to 7. It might be time to start checking your brackets to see how far you had Nova going.
2:08 Carlton Scott drains a three for the Irish to pull them into a 46-all tie with 1:47 left. We could have our first buzzer beater.
2:07 Hey I was joking when I said first one to 48 would win the Notre Dame game. But at 43-43 with 2:30 left, I might be right. Maybe they'll go to a shootout if it stays tied.
2:04 Notre Dame tied with 3 mintes left and I'm not sure if anyone's gonna score again. Florida on a 9-0 run to cut BYU's 13-0 lead to 4.
2:01 How exactly did this Villanova team fall apart? They were one of the top teams in the country and now they look lost. They've got 31 points with 14 remaining.
1:58 Boy, Old Dominion crashes the offensive blass hard. A rebound basket and one gives the Monarchs a shot at the tie with 6 minutes left.
1:56 Villanova cuts the lead to 1 but they just don't look like they have a burst in them to pull ahead. This one looks like it'll go down to the wire.
1:54 p.m. A 3 extends the Cougars lead to 13 with 9 minutes left. Interesting side note: BYU had to play in the Thursday-Saturday bracket because the Mormon school can't play on Sundays.
1:52 BYU lead balloons to 10 as Fredette scores his 20th point. Another leaning, angling lay-in.
1:50 p.m. Ben Hansbrough, Tyler's little bro, has poured in 15 for the Fightin Irish. 15 of their 39. They must've been some fun backyard one-on-one games to watch.
1:48 Boy these games are low-scoring. Not sure if any team's going to make it to 70 points in the first three games. It's defense, defense, defense. Somewhere, Bobby Knight is smiling.
1:41 BYU takes their biggest lead at 7 with 15 left. Fredette starting to yo-yo his way in and out of the lane. Fun to watch.
1:38 ODU grabs a one-point lead 3with 13 minutes left. Dave Finocchio lets out a yelp that I can hear from San Francisco to New York.
1:35 I'm already starting to get excited to see the Murray State Racers play at 3 p.m. Boy I hope they take Vandy down. Racers love to run all over the place and force turnovers but shoot a very high percentage. Vandy has decent guards so not sure if the Racers can turn them over. But boy I hope they do.
1:32: BYU opens with a little burst and takes a five-point lead. Fredette's starting to get it going attacking the basket. He's got a nice little scoop shot. And ODU goes on a run to get within 1. Looks like the first wave of games will all be competitive. Wonder how many people with Nova in their Final Four are sweating it out big-time right now.
1:20 Villanova down 6 at the half. They were down big last year to American in their first round game before coming back for the win.
1:07 Notre Dame takes a six-point lead into the half while BYU holds a slim 2-point lead after not scoring the final 5 minutes of the half. Robert Morris has built a 9-point lead with 4 minutes in the half. Upset Alert!
1 p.m. Just saw my first Papa John's commercial. I've never seen a Papa John's pizza place in my life. Weird side note: Do you think that one-handed halfcourt that Papa John made is real or doctored? This is the kind of stuff I ponder.
12:58 Jay Wright benching Reynolds and Fisher doesn't appear to be working so far. Nova down 6 and only has 11 points in 12 minutes. Are we gonnan see a No. 2 seed go down to a 15 before the tournament's 2 hours old?
12:56 Guy comes off BYU bench and goes on personal 10-0 run vs. Florida. And he averages 4 points a game. You gotta love the tournament.
12:54 Notre Dame starting to pull ahead, up 8. They look like they're going to grind this one out.
12:48 Early impressions: Nova's might scuffle through this game. BYU is in trouble and I'm not sure they can keep up with Florida's athleticism. Every defense BYU runs, Florida has
12:46 Dick Enberg announcing the Notre Dame game. Boy, his voice is soothing. Just wants to make me to settle in for the rest of the day.
12:43 The scouting report said Florida couldn't shoot 3s. I've seen them hit 3 or 4 already.
12:42 Jimmer Fredette is a legitimate player for BYU but not sure if he has enough size to be a real tournament Cinderella star. Already struggling to finish some shots in traffic against bigger defenders.
12:40 Notre Dame expands lead to 6. Somewhere Charlie Weis is smiling. Because he all he ever wanted wsa to see the program succeed.
12:38 Robert Morris takes the lead with a 3. Villanova looks awful so far. Will their late-season struggles continue?
12:35 Notre Dame and ODU are 5-4 after 5 minutes. First one to 48 wins.
12:31 Nova and Robert Morris tip off. I'm now watching 3 games on the Direct TV Mega Mix channel. We're 20 minutes in and I'm getting dizzy.
12:26 Notre Dame and ODU is underway. ND takes a 1-0 lead. I love it when a game starts that way. All you need next is the closer to come in from the bullpen.
12:21 Florida wins the tip and the tourney is underway. And the first basket of the tournament goes to...BYU's Tyler Haws. And I had Jimmer Fredette in my first hoop pool. There's the first pool to go.
12:10 p.m. Villanova coach Jay Wright benches starters Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher for the start of their game vs. Robert Morris. Let's see if this fires them up.
11:22 a.m. ET Less than one hour till tip and I'm zooming in on a few games:
Old Dominion-Notre Dame at 12:25 p.m. B/R founder Dave Finocchio is a Notre Dame alum and huge apologist for the Fightin' Irish so we're going to actively root against ND today. But don't tell him.
Two great games kick off in the 2:30 block of games with Murray State-Vandy followed by St. Mary's-Richmond at 3 p.m. I'm rooting big time for Murray State, partly because I dig the Racers and moreso because I can't stand Vandy's Big Aussie AJ Ogilvy. Sorry, but I can't get excited about Luc Longley, the sequel.
I'm very disappointed that St. Mary's and Richmond have to square off in the first round because I love the way both these teams play: St. Mary's pouring in 3s and pounding the ball down low to Omar Samhan. Richmond runs a tremendous guard-oriented offense, a variation of the Princeton set and is just fun to watch with all the cuts and movement. I'll be sorry to see one of them go in the first round.
I'll also be taking some time to give BYU's star guard Jimmer Fredette (Jimmer, gotta love that name and he's a local boy from upstate NY) an extended look as he hope the Cougs bump Florida from the tournament. The Gators shouldn't even be in this tournament and Billy Donovan's really seen his career go into a tailspin since winning consecutive titles.
K State and Baylor will also get a little afternoon love from me, although I expect both to win in blowouts. I'm a Big East guy but the Big 12 was huge this year and I fully expect both K State and Baylor to make a deep run in the tournament. And I just want to see K State coach Frank Martin get all bug-eyed.
I've got all the essentials for the early games, Coronas and Cheetos, Fritos and Munchos and any other kind of chips you can imagine that ends in 'os' and I'll make the transition to chicken wings and Pizza Hut by the time the night's over. (Pizza Hut for the first round of the tournament is a tradition that dates back to the Tim Hardaway two-step at UTEP days for me).
So strap it on and grab a cold one and let's get ready for some action.