March Madness Bracket 2011: Top Storylines From Day One
Oh, the madness of March. Day one of the NCAA Tournament is in the books and brackets are being shredded everywhere across the land. In one of the more exciting opening days in recent history, there were upsets, buzzer beaters, nail biters, and unbelievable individual performances.
Butler proved it still has magic left in its tank, San Diego State and Temple picked up historic wins, Gonzaga proved the glass slipper still fits, and Richmond reminded us the curse of the 12 seed is still alive and well. Oh yeah, and some guy named Fredette, he's pretty good.
With this much excitement on day one, what could day two possibly offer as an encore?
Here's a recap of the top story lines from the opening round of 64.
Fredette's for Real
No Brandon Davies, no problem.
Jimmer Fredette single-handedly willed his BYU Cougars into the Round of 32, scoring 32 points in their opening round victory over Wofford.
Fredette shot a pedestrian 10 of 25 from the floor, but dished out seven assists, while playing the full 40 minutes. No other Cougar scored more than 10 points.
Up next, the Cougars face red-hot Gonzaga on Saturday in the third round from Denver.
One for the Ages
It's about time.
That must be the thought of many San Diego State Aztec fans, as their SDSU cagers picked up their first NCAA Tournament win Thursday, with a 68-50 victory of the Northern Colorado Bears.
The Aztecs' magical season continues as they head into a third round match up with the Temple Owls, who picked up a historic win of their own on opening day.
This Ones for You
It's been a long time coming, but Coach Fran Dunphy finally got his win.
After enduring an 11-game NCAA Tournament losing streak, Coach Dunphy and his Owls are finally moving on to the next round.
But it wasn't easy.
It took an awkward, off-balance Juan Fernandez jumper from just inside the three-point line with 0.4 showing on the clock for Temple to knock off Penn State.
Temple's celebration will be short-lived as they prepare to face No. 2 seed San Diego State on Saturday.
If the Shoe Fits...
The original "Cinderella" is back at it.
Slapped with a lower seed and tamed expectations, the Gonzaga Bulldogs played like a team with nothing to lose, running away from St. John's 86-71.
Playing like their predecessors of the 90's with the lower seed, Gonzaga looked more comfortable than they have in recent years, when the pressure to match their high seeding seemed to take its toll in early round match ups.
Led by Marquise Carter's career high 24 points, the 'Zags dominated this one. Gonzaga pummeled St. John's on the boards, out-rebounding them 42-20, and hit enough outside shots to keep Steve Lavin's surprising St. John's team at bay.
Up next, Gonzaga has a date with future conference rival, BYU and Jimmer Fredette.
Still Got It?
After their magical run to the NCAA title game last April, the Butler Bulldogs showed they still may have a little magic up their sleeve.
After struggling with the size of ODU's front line all afternoon, Matt Howard's tip in off a busted play sent the Butler Bulldogs into the next round, where they'll take on No. 1 seed Pitt.
How appropriately that Howard would be the hero in this one. Our last image was of him, face covered, sprawled out on the floor, after Butler came up just short against the Duke Blue Devils in last year's national championship.
But he was all smiles today.
The proverbial curse of the 12 seed lives on as the Richmond Spiders knocked off the No. 5 seed Vanderbilt Commodores 69-66.
Hardly considered an upset as Richmond was only a three point underdog, Vanderbilt was still stunned after losing in the first round for the second straight year.
Led by Kevin Anderson's 25 points, the Spiders looked every bit as good as their opponent from the SEC, and now move on to an unlikely match up with No. 13 seed Morehead State, who pulled off the shocker of the day beating Louisville.
Knocking off a higher seed is hardly anything new to the Spiders. This was their sixth first round victory, but their first since 1998.
Dream Come True
After executing a play his coach dreamed up the night before, Demonte Harper and his Morehead State teammates were able to celebrate the biggest victory in the less-than-spectacular history of this tiny Kentucky program.
Hardly a blip on the map of Kentucky basketball, Morehead State went toe-to-toe with their better know neighbors from Louisville, knocking off the No. 4 seeded Cardinals 62-61 for the biggest upset of the day.
Behind the hot shooting of Terrance Hill, who led Morehead with 25 points, the Eagles were able to hang around all afternoon, setting up their improbable victory in the closing seconds.
Now they move on to face the No. 12 seed Richmond Spiders in a third round match up not many could have predicted.
There's Something in the Air
They call it the "Mile High" city for a reason.
The air is thinner up there, making strange things happen.
Witness Thursday's opening round at the Pepsi Center. Only BYU was able to survive as a higher seed, and even they had to work for their victory. In all, the No. 11,12 and 13 seeds were all able to pull off the upsets on Thursday, setting up unlikely match ups on Saturday.
What can Denver possibly do for an encore?
That's Why They Call It March Madness
In one of the zaniest sporting events on earth, nothing goes according to plan. That's what makes March Madness so compelling and entertaining to watch.
Thursday's opening round was one of the more entertaining in recent memory.
Check out the stats: three lower seeds won, six games were decided by five points or less, and five of those games were decided on shots in the closing seconds.Butler won on a buzzer beater.
Tune in Friday, things are bound to get crazier.