The first day of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was a basketball fan's dreams come true. There was nearly no seed or lead safe as the first half of the opening round games were played.
With 16 games being played on day one, only a handful were without drama near the end as the madness of March was on full display. This could have been one of the best opening rounds in recent memory full of upsets, overtimes, and broken streaks.
While there are 16 more games left to be played in the first round, let us not forget the great things we saw on day one.
Enjoy the look back at the Thursday’s games while you watch Friday’s games. Here is a breakdown of the opening-round games.
BYU survives against Florida
In one of the first games of the day, the BYU Cougars needed two overtimes to get past the Gators. Florida, who many believed snuck in the tournament instead of Mississippi State, gave BYU all it wanted and then some.
The Gators had a chance to pull off the upset but could not close out the Cougars. Florida’s loss broke a streak of 12 straight tournament wins. The Gators rallied but came up short in overtime.
BYU also snapped a streak of seven straight first round loses. The Cougars were able to move on behind Jimmer Fredette’s 37 points and will face Kansas State in the second round.
Robert Morris gives Villanova all it wanted for 45 minutes
The rough first day for the Big East almost caught up with the Wildcats. They started slowly and Scottie Reynolds started on the bench and could not find his shot.
Robert Morris had a six-point halftime lead and was trying to hold on in the second half. After losing starters from fouling out, committing 21 turnovers and, missing three-point shots doomed the Colonials.
Villanova still needed to fight its way back into the game in the final minutes of regulation and hold on in overtime to win by three points.
The Wildcats will have to play better in their second round game against St. Mary’s if they want to make a return trip to the Final Four.
Old Dominion stuns Notre Dame
Notre Dame was the first team in the tournament to catch the upset bug and start the down fall of the Big East. After racing to a 15-point lead early in the first half the Fighting Irish could not keep it.
The Monarchs battled their way back into the game after being down by six at halftime. ODU was not scared of a Big East team having beat Georgetown earlier in the season.
Still, the Irish kept the game close and had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. Notre Dame had chances to tie the game but could not and fell by a single point to become the tournament’s first upset victim.
The Monarchs earned their first win since 1995, when they needed triple overtime to beat Villanova. Old Dominion, the Colonial Athletic Association champion, now moves on to face Baylor in the next round.
Murray State ruins Vanderbilt, SEC’s day
The SEC could not escape half of its tournament field being eliminated on day one. After Florida’s loss, the SEC was down to just three teams and no wins when the Commodores took the court.
Murray State showed no fear of the big bad SEC and took it to Vandy. The Racers had a four-point lead at the half.
Vanderbilt battled back in the second half and had a lead with less than five seconds to go in the game. The Commodores could not seal the deal after the Racers missed a three-point shot by losing the ball out of bounds with 4.2 seconds left.
The Racers made the first buzzer beater of the tournament by hitting an 15-footer as time expired. It was Murray State’s first tournament win since 1988 over North Carolina State.
Vanderbilt was bounced from the tournament for the second straight year as a four seed. Murray State’s win marked the third straight year that a 13 seed has beaten a four seed.
The SEC would finish the day at 2-2 after Kentucky and Tennessee pulled out wins. Next up for Murray State is Butler.
Ohio bounces Georgetown to stun the Big East for the second time on day one
The biggest upset of the day was not really that close at all. From nearly the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Ohio Bobcats dominated the Georgetown Hoyas.
Ohio finished the regular season with a losing conference record and was the ninth seed in the conference tournament. They reeled off four wins to capture the MAC title and the conference’s automatic berth into the tournament.
Georgetown was nearly the Big East tournament champion and a solid team all year. The Hoyas even beat No. 1 seed Syracuse in the in conference tournament.
That all changed in the open round of the tournament as the Bobcats sent the Hoyas packing in the first round. Ohio started off fast and raced to a 12-point halftime lead.
Georgetown battled back but could never pull even with the Bobcats. Ohio always found an answer every time the Hoyas made a run.
The 12-point win by the Bobcats was the largest margin of victory for a 14 seed over a three seed. Ohio’s victory was the first for the school since 1983 and made 13 of 23 three-point attempts.
Ohio will play Tennessee in the second round on Saturday.
Marquette beaten by Washington on last-second shot
After the first day of the tournament maybe the regular season thoughts were wrong. The Big East, considered by most to be the best conference, went 1-3 and could have, maybe should have, went winless.
The Pac-10 was thought of as the weakest of the major conferences in the regular season and it showed with only two tournament bids. Washington helped the Pac-10 make the most of one of those bids by upsetting the Eagles.
Marquette would not go quietly into the night like Georgetown. The Eagles were in this game every step of the way.
Washington took a one-point lead into the half and never could put Marquette away as the game swung back and forth. The Huskies have been on a run since winning the conference tournament and making it to the second round for the second straight year.
Marquette's fate was sealed after Quincy Pondexter made a leaning jumper with 1.7 seconds left in the game. The field goal would prove to be the game winning score as the Huskies won 80-78 as the 11th seed.
Washington’s win marks just the second time since the tournament expanded in 1985 to 64 teams that a Pac-10 team has beaten a Big East opponent. The Huskies were also the second 11 seed to advance on day one.
Washington advances to face New Mexico in the second round.
St. Mary’s wins battle of mid-majors over Richmond
The Gaels had not won a tournament game since 1959 when they beat Idaho State to advance to the final eight in a 23-team tournament. St. Mary’s earned the automatic bid by beating Gonzaga in the conference tournament.
Richmond never was a real threat in this game after being tied in the first half. The Spiders took a one point lead at 40-39 with over 17 minutes to play before the Gaels took over.
St. Mary’s has been on a role since winning the West Coast Conference tournament. The 10th-seed Gaels ended up winning by nine points and now face Villanova in the next round.
Two nine seeds advance
Texas found a way to choke away a six-point lead in overtime to lose to Wake Forest. The Longhorns battled their way back into the game and had a chance to win it in regulation at the free-throw line.
The Longhorns tied the game on a free throw at 68-68 but missed the second free throw that would have given them the lead late in the game. After regulation, Texas raced out to an early lead in the overtime period.
Wake Forest gave up a lead to Texas in the second half and had to fight back after getting into a hole in overtime. The Demon Deacons hit the game winning shot with 1.3 seconds left on Ishmael Smith’s jumper. Wake Forest plays Kentucky next.
In the other nine/eight match-up of the day, Northern Iowa was able to defeat pesky UNLV. The Rebels hung around all game long but were unable to get the victory.
The Panthers ended a 20-year tournament drought after hitting a three-point shot with 4.9 seconds in the game. Northern Iowa was down by a point at the half and then battled with the Rebels in the second half.
Northern Iowa will face top-ranked Kansas next.
Taking care of business
Not every game came down to the final seconds or was an upset. Kentucky had little trouble with East Tennessee State.
Butler sailed into the second round after taking care of C-USA regular season champion UTEP.
Sam Houston State provided little resistance against Baylor.
Kansas State started slowly but once they got rolling, wasted little time getting past North Texas.
Kansas ended up in a dog fight with Lehigh but midway through the second half took control and finished strong.
Tennessee battled San Diego State but pulled away late to make it into the second round.
Montana gave New Mexico all it could handle for most of the game until falling behind late and losing.
The first day of the tournament was great and had everything we love about it. One can only hope that day two of the NCAA Men’s Tournament is just as good as day one and the rest of the tournament is too.
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