2010 NCAA Tournament: Recapping the Seven Nail-Biting Finishes of Day One

John DeMarzoContributor IMarch 19, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 18:  Forward Danero Thomas #12 of the Murray State Racers takes the game winning shot against the Vanderbilt Commodores as time expires during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men�s basketball tournament at HP Pavilion on March 18, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The first day of the 2010 NCAA Tournament is in the books, and more so than ever, March Madness lived up to its billing.

Five double-digit seeds knocked off their opponents, and two No. 9 seeds (Northern Iowa and Wake Forest) won, making it seven of the 16 games where the lower-seeded team won. 

If that wasn't enough, 11 of the 16 games were decided by single digits, and seven of those games were decided by a basket (three points or fewer).

Three of those games went to overtime, and for Florida and BYU, one overtime wasn't enough—they had to go to a second overtime to declare a winner.

To put that in perspective, only two games in the entire 2009 NCAA Tournament went to overtime—and both came in the first round, when Wisconsin edged Florida State, 61-59, and when Siena nipped Ohio State in a double-overtime classic, 74-72.

Here's a quick look back at all seven games decided by a basket from Day One of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

(11) Old Dominion 51, (6) Notre Dame 50

In New Orleans, the Fighting Irish were running their "Burn" offense all day against the Monarchs, taking a 30-22 lead one basket into the second half. But Old Dominion refused to quit and dug in at both ends of the floor, taking the lead for good at 48-46 on a Gerald Lee jumper with 1:27 to play.

Down 51-48, Notre Dame's Carleton Scott attempted a game-tying three-pointer, but it popped out halfway down the cylinder, and Luke Harangody put in the rebound as the buzzer sounded for Old Dominion's final margin of victory.

The Monarchs will face Baylor, a 68-59 winner over Sam Houston State, on Saturday at 5:45 P.M.

(2) Villanova 73, (15) Robert Morris 70 (OT)

In perhaps the most unlikely result of the day, the Colonials led throughout the game in Providence, giving the second-seeded Wildcats all they could handle before ultimately bowing out in overtime.

The game started off on a weird note, as Villanova coach Jay Wright benched two upperclassmen, Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher, to enforce a "minor teaching point."

Reynolds and Fisher soon entered the game, but Reynolds suffered from a horrible shooting day, going 2-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-8 from behind the arc. His drives to the basket were frequently rewarded with trips to the foul line, as he made 15 of his 16 free-throw attempts. 

Down 55-47 with 3:55 to play, Villanova rallied to force overtime, and in overtime, Reynolds' clutch three-pointer, only his second field goal of the day and first three-pointer, gave the Wildcats a 67-61 lead.

However, due to sloppy play, missed free throws, and a questionable decision by Reggie Redding—who eschewed a wide-open layup to run time off the clock and then proceeded to miss the first free throw following a foul—that lead dwindled to just 71-70 with 11 seconds to play.

Reynolds came through in the clutch again, making two free throws, and the Colonials missed a three-pointer at the buzzer as their valiant upset bid came up just short.

The Wildcats will face St. Mary's, an 80-71 winner over Richmond, on Saturday at 1:05 P.M.

(13) Murray State 66, (4) Vanderbilt 65

A tightly contested game throughout in San Jose between the Racers and the Commodores came down to the wire, and Murray State led 64-61 in the final minute before an A.J. Ogilvy layup and two free throws by Jermaine Beal gave Vanderbilt a 65-64 lead with just 12 seconds to play.

Following a missed three-pointer by Murray State, Racers coach Billy Kennedy drew up the potential game-winning play, and his players carried it out to perfection. Danero Thomas sank a mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounded to stun the Commodores and carry the Racers into the second round, where they will face Butler on Saturday at 3:20 P.M.

(9) Northern Iowa 66, (8) UNLV 63

Just one seed separated the Panthers from the Runnin' Rebels, and the teams played like that throughout the game in Oklahoma City, as the lead went back and forth before Northern Iowa appeared to assume control of the game midway through the second half, taking a 58-49 lead with 7:16 to play.

The Runnin' Rebels fought back, tying the game at 66 on a three-pointer by Oscar Bellfield with 40 seconds to play. However, the Panthers' Ali Farokhmanesh drilled a dagger through the hearts of UNLV, sinking an NBA range three-pointer as the clock was ticking down to give Northern Iowa the victory.

The Panthers will face the tournament's top overall seed, Kansas, on Saturday at 5:40 P.M.

(11) Washington 80, (6) Marquette 78

The Huskies, champions of the much-maligned Pac-10 and owners of a seven-game winning streak, fell behind 60-45 with 13:58 to play, and it looked like Washington's stay in the NCAA Tournament was going to be short and swift.

But the Huskies began to take big bites out of the Golden Eagles' lead, taking a 72-71 lead with 5:23 to play on a three-pointer by Elston Turner. It looked like Marquette was going to be engaged in yet another close game, as they had won eight games during the regular season by single digits and had lost only one game by more than nine points. 

With the score knotted at 78 with 39 seconds to play, Washington's Isaiah Thomas missed a three-pointer, but Quincy Pondexter grabbed the miss and set up for a game-winning shot. Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar did not call a timeout and instead let Pondexter go to work.

With one second to go, Pondexter pulled up and banked a shot in to cap the amazing comeback and push Washington across the finish line and into the second round, where they will meet New Mexico on Saturday at 5:50 P.M.

(9) Wake Forest 81, (8) Texas 80 (OT)

It had been quite the fall for the Longhorns, crashing and burning from a 17-0 record and No. 1 ranking in the country to a 24-9 finish and a No. 8 seed. The Demon Deacons were in a similar skid, falling to 19-10 following an 18-5 start that included victories over Gonzaga, Richmond, Xavier, and Maryland.

The two teams hooked up for an 8-9 duel in New Orleans, and for one night, the two fading teams gave a battle reminiscent of the halcyon days of early in the season.

Wake Forest took the lead from the opening tip, and after Texas took the lead at halftime, the Demon Deacons began to roll, taking a 54-42 lead with 13:05 to play. The Longhorns steadily closed the gap, tying the game at 67 on a three-pointer by freshman J'Covan Brown, and appeared poised to run away with the game when they opened up a 76-68 lead with 3:05 to play in overtime.

However, the Longhorns entered the game ranked 325th in Division I in free-throw percentage at 63.3 percent, and that statistic reared its ugly head at the worst possible time (see the 2008 Memphis Tigers). 

Up 78-74 with 49 seconds to play, Brown, a 90 percent free-throw shooter, missed two free throws, but he made two more with 28 seconds to play for an 80-76 lead.

Following an Ari Stewart three-pointer that trimmed the lead to 80-79, Texas' Gary Johnson missed two free throws with 10 seconds to play, and on the other end, Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith nailed the game-winning jumper, giving the Demon Deacons the dramatic victory and a second-round date with No. 1 seed Kentucky on Saturday at 8:15 P.M.

(6) Tennessee 62, (11) San Diego State 59

The penultimate game to tip off on a truly mad Day One of the 2010 NCAA Tournament was a lot like the others—a closely contested battle throughout that saw the Volunteers nip the Aztecs in Providence. 

Down 37-28 with 18:39 to play, San Diego State spent the remainder of the game fighting their way back into the game and regained the lead not 10 minutes later, taking a 45-44 advantage with 9:23 to play. Back and forth the game went, as both teams dug in defensively, not willing to give up an easy basket.

Up 57-56 in the final minute, Tennessee's Melvin Goins nailed a three-pointer that prompted CBS analyst Bill Raftery to scream his trademark "Onions!" Goins then made a crucial blunder, fouling the Aztecs' D.J. Gay on a three-point attempt, and Gay proceeded to make all three free throws to close the deficit to 60-59 with 10 seconds to play.

But Wayne Chism sunk both free throws on the other end, and the Volunteers survived a last-ditch three-point attempt by San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard, moving on and wrapping up a day of mad finishes.

Tennessee will face No. 14 seed Ohio, who stunned No. 3 seed Georgetown in the first night game in Providence. The Volunteers and Bobcats will tip off at 3:35 P.M.


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