NCAA Men's Tournament 2022: Friday's First-Round Winners and Losers

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2022

NCAA Men's Tournament 2022: Friday's First-Round Winners and Losers

0 of 10

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Plenty of brackets were busted on the first full day of the 2022 NCAA men's tournament when No. 2 seed Kentucky fell to No. seed 15 Saint Peter's, and that was just the appetizer for another 16-game lineup on Friday as first-round action continued.

    The first wave of games were chalk, with No. 2 seed Auburn, No. 3 seeds Texas Tech and Purdue and No. 7 seed Ohio State all punching their ticket to the second round, with future NBA talent on display in those games in the form of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler (Auburn), Jaden Ivey (Purdue) and E.J. Liddell (Ohio State).

    A pair of double-digit seeds came out on top in the second wave, with No. 10 Miami and No. 11 Notre Dame advancing on, while No. 2 seed Villanova cruised to victory and No. 6 seed Texas scored an eight-point win over popular underdog pick Virginia Tech.

    Title contenders Arizona and Duke took care of business after surviving early scares in the third wave of games, while No. 4 seed Illinois rallied late against No. 13 Chattanooga and No. 11 Iowa State pulled off the upset over No. 6 LSU.

    The final four games of the night included blowouts wins by No. 5 seed Houston and No. 9 seed TCU to complete a perfect first round by the Big 12. One of the tightest matchups of the day was a 74-73 win by Michigan State over Davidson, while sharp-shooting Colgate couldn't pull off the upset against No. 3 seed Wisconsin in the final game of Friday's action.

    Let's dive into the day's biggest winners and losers as the field is cut in half.

Loser: An Ugly Shooting Performance for Loyola University Chicago

1 of 10

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Loyola University Chicago Ramblers have enjoyed some recent tournament success on the strength of their quality defense, frustratingly slow tempo, and elite efficiency on the offensive end.

    They lost a big piece of the puzzle when Cameron Krutwig graduated following last year's upset of No. 1 seed Illinois, but their offensive efficiency did not miss a beat. They were shooting 48.3 percent from the field on the year entering the NCAA tournament, a mark that was good for 13th in the nation.

    However, that offensive efficiency was nowhere to be found on Friday.

    The Ramblers shot an ugly 26.8 percent from the floor against an Ohio State defense that ranked 107th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, including just 7-of-28 (.250) on two-point attempts. They also went 3-of-10 from the free-throw line in what was truly an all-around awful shooting performance.

    As a result, Ohio State came away with a 54-41 victory, despite its own shooting woes.

    The Buckeyes connected on just 1-of-15 from three-point distance but shot 60.7 percent from inside the arc to effectively stymie another upset-minded Loyola squad.

Winner: Auburn's Future NBA Stars in Their NCAA Tournament Debut

2 of 10

    Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler
    Jabari Smith and Walker KesslerTodd Kirkland/Getty Images

    The Auburn Tigers have two of college basketball's brightest stars in forward Jabari Smith and center Walker Kessler.

    In Bleacher Report's latest NBA mock draft from Jonathan Wasserman, Smith was projected to go No. 1 overall, while Kessler was also part of the first-round conversation at No. 26 overall.

    Those two future NBA players impressed in their NCAA tournament debut, putting on a show against No. 15-seeded Jacksonville State.

    • Smith: 20 points, 14 rebounds, 6-of-13 shooting, 4-of-7 from three
    • Kessler: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 9 blocks, 6-of-11 shooting

    The Tigers will go as far as that dynamic duo carries them during March Madness, and even though it was against an overmatched opponent, their wide range of skills were on full display in a 19-point first-round victory.

Winner: An Offensive Statement from Texas Tech

3 of 10

    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Thanks to the No. 1 defense in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, Texas Tech spent much of the year ranked among the nation's elite teams.

    However, the Red Raiders do not always show up on the offensive end of the floor.

    "Texas Tech is superb on defense but lacking and inconsistent on offense. Bryson Williams is the only respectable three-point shooter, and without a true point guard, the Red Raiders commit nearly 14 turnovers per game," wrote B/R's Kerry Miller.

    Their offense showed up in a big way on Friday, shooting 18-of-25 from the floor and 7-of-10 from three-point range during the first half to build a 52-25 halftime lead. They finished the 97-62 blowout shooting a blistering 66.7 percent from the floor and drilled a season-high 12 three-pointers along the way.

    The caveat, of course, is that it came against a No. 14-seeded Montana State team that ranked 129th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency.

    Still, if they can use that opening game as a confidence builder on the offensive end, the Red Raiders could be a bona fide title contender. Defense travels, but momentum can go a long way on the offensive end.

Loser: A Sloppy Day from the USC Offense

4 of 10

    Eakin Howard/Getty Images

    The Miami Hurricanes were out-shot (48.0% to 42.9%), out-rebounded (38-26) and out-assisted (17-13) by the USC Trojans, and they connected on just 1-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc.

    It's not often that numbers like those result in a win.

    However, the Trojans' inability to protect the basketball gave the Hurricanes enough extra possessions to even the scales.

    USC turned the ball over 18 times, with the Miami defense coming away with 12 steals and scoring 22 points off turnovers. On the flip side, the Hurricanes had only three turnovers.

    In the end, a pair of free throws from Charlie Moore with three seconds to play proved to be the difference in a 68-66 game, and the Trojans are left to wonder what could have been if they had committed one fewer turnover that led to an easy Miami basket.

    The Hurricanes averaged 8.7 steals per game during the season, good for 21st in the nation, so expect them to continue to be a pest on the defensive end against No. 2 seed Auburn on Sunday.

Winner: A Career Day from Cormac Ryan

5 of 10

    Cormac Ryan
    Cormac RyanAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Paul Atkinson Jr. was the star for Notre Dame during its play-in game victory over Rutgers, scoring a season-high 26 points on 13-of-15 shooting, including the game-winning basket at the end of the second overtime.

    On Friday, it was Cormac Ryan's turn for a career night.

    The senior averaged a modest 8.6 points per game during the regular season, but he poured in a season-high 20 points against Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament, and that momentum carried over into his NCAA tournament debut.

    The 6'5" guard led the Fighting Irish with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-13 from the field and 7-of-9 from beyond the arc, giving the team a huge boost in a 14-point win over a good Alabama team that proved capable of beating anyone during the regular season by posting wins over Gonzaga, Houston, Baylor, Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas.

    Is this year's Notre Dame squad going to be the latest to make a run out of the play-in game?

Loser: Upset Bids Against a Pair of Elite Teams

6 of 10

    Grant Basile
    Grant BasileDenis Poroy/Associated Press

    Tip of the cap to No. 16 seed Wright State and No. 15 seed Cal State Fullerton for making things interesting against two of the best teams in the nation, but both upset bids ultimately fell short.

    Wright State played its way into the round of 64 with a 93-82 First Four win over Bryant on Wednesday, and the Raiders kept things close against No. 1 seed Arizona in the first half with a 42-31 deficit to overcome at the break.

    A Grant Basile three-point play with 16:37 to go in the second half trimmed it to 49-42, and for just a moment, it looked like it was time for the "Upset Watch" alert. The Wildcats ripped off a 15-2 run from there, though, and walked away with a 17-point victory.

    It was a similar story for Cal State Fullerton against No. 2 seed Duke.

    The Titans trailed by just six points with 2:16 to play in the first half, but the Blue Devils came out of the break looking more like a title contender. And by the 14:16 mark, the lead had swelled to 19 points, and the game was out of reach.

    After Saint Peter's pulled off the unlikely upset of Kentucky on Thursday night, it was hard not to flinch when two of the other tournament favorites were put to the test.    

Winner: Illinois Wins a Game It Only Led for 25 Seconds

7 of 10

    Kofi Cockburn
    Kofi CockburnGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    To string together six wins and take home an NCAA tournament title, a team is inevitably going to need to win without its A-game at some point during that March Madness run.

    Fourth-seeded Illinois took that idea to the limit on Friday against No. 13-seeded Chattanooga.

    The Fighting Illini fell behind 20-6 to open the game and played from behind for most of the second half before finally taking their first lead of the game on a Kofi Cockburn basket with 46 seconds left to play to make it 52-51.

    A pair of Alfonso Plummer free throws with 12 seconds to go made it 54-53, and that was the final score after Chattanooga's Malachi Smith had his shot blocked and then missed an open jumper at the buzzer after corralling the offensive rebound.

    In a game in which it shot 3-of-17 from three-point distance, 13-of-22 from the free-throw line and was out-rebounded by a 43-40 margin, Illinois found a way to survive the upset bid and advance to the second round.

    Will this scare light a fire under them?

Winner: A Potential Giant-Slayer in TCU

8 of 10

    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    The TCU Horned Frogs were far from a sure thing to be included in the 68-team field before they won back-to-back games against Texas Tech and Kansas near the end of their regular-season slate. A win over Texas in their Big 12 tournament opener essentially clinched their spot in the field, despite a 20-12 record overall and an 8-10 showing in conference play.

    Even with those two late wins over elite-level teams, it was tough to know what to expect from a Horned Frogs team playing in the NCAA tournament for just the second time in the last 24 years and coming off a sub-.500 showing in conference play.

    They made a statement on Friday night.

    Playing in what is usually an evenly-matched 8 vs. 9 seed matchup, they absolutely dominated Seton Hall, limiting them to 28.8 percent shooting and posting a dominant 40-26 differential on the board en route to a 69-42 blowout win.

    Don't sleep on a TCU team that proved capable of taking down a giant during the regular season, and looked as sharp as anyone in the opening round.

Loser: Elite Three-Point Shooting Teams

9 of 10

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Every year, the tournament field has a handful of underdog teams capable of riding a hot hand from beyond the arc to a surprise March Madness run.

    These teams looked like the prime candidates in 2022:

    • (13) South Dakota State: 44.5 3PT%, 1st in NCAA
    • (14) Colgate: 40.3 3PT%, 2nd in NCAA
    • (11) Virginia Tech: 39.3 3PT%, 3rd in NCAA
    • (10) Davidson: 38.7 3PT%, 7th in NCAA
    • (10) Loyola-Chicago: 38.3 3PT%, 9th in NCAA

    However, none of those teams managed to pull off a first-round upset:

    • South Dakota State: 7-of-23 (30.4 3PT%), 66-57 loss
    • Colgate: 10-of-22 (45.5 3PT%), 67-60 loss
    • Virginia Tech: 4-of-12 (33.3 3PT%), 81-73 loss
    • Davidson: 10-of-25 (40.0 3PT%), 74-73 loss
    • Loyola-Chicago: 8-of-28 (26.8 3PT%), 54-41 loss

    In the cases of South Dakota State, Virginia Tech and Loyola-Chicago, it was simply an off-night shooting the deep ball, while Colgate simply didn't come up with enough secondary production, shooting 34.3 percent inside the arc and tallying just six points at the free-throw line. As for Davidson, they simply got beat in one of the most evenly matched games of the entire first round.

    With that, there will be no live-or-die by the three team in the second round of the tournament.

Winner: A Perfect 6-0 Start from the Big 12 Conference

10 of 10

    Tyrese Hunter
    Tyrese HunterBen Solomon/Getty Images

    The Big Ten may have led the way with nine teams in the NCAA tournament field, but it's the Big 12 that walked away from the opening weekend with the best showing.

    Each of the conference's six teams advanced to the weekend, with Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU all winning in lopsided fashion, Texas holding off a streaking Virginia Tech team, and No. 11 seed Iowa State grinding out an upset win over No. 6 seed LSU.

    Here's a full rundown of the conference's opening-round performance:

    • (1) Kansas 83, (16) Texas Southern 56
    • (1) Baylor 85, (16) Norfolk State 49
    • (3) Texas Tech 97, (14) Montana State 62
    • (6) Texas 81, (11) Virginia Tech 73
    • (9) TCU 69, (8) Seton Hall 42
    • (11) Iowa State 59, (6) LSU 54

    Iowa State freshman Tyrese Hunter deserves a ton of credit for helping the Cyclones pull off the upset, as he scored a career-high 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc, including an absolute dagger with 20 seconds to play that gave Iowa State a five-point lead.

    Top seeds Baylor and Kansas play in the first two games of the day on Saturday, as the Big 12 looks to keep its tournament success rolling.