The first day of the 2016 NCAA Tournament had seven lower seeded teams winning their first round games, with the standouts beating Wichita State stifling Arizona, Gonzaga cruising against Seton Hall, Arkansas Little-Rock sizzling against Purdue and the biggest one of all was Yale over Baylor.
As for things going a bit more as expected, all number one seeds won in double digits, meaning no trouble for Kansas, North Carolina and Virginia. Kentucky had no problem with Stony Brook while Duke showed there’s cause for concern with their win against UNC Wilmington. All three number 9 seeds (UConn, Butler and Providence) won their games.
#12 Arkansas Little-Rock 85 #5 Purdue 83: When people talk about March Madness, this is the kind of game they have on their minds. Double overtime, game saving three pointers, busted brackets and an underdog moving on to the round of 32 for only the second time in school history and a first since 1986. Senior Josh Hagins was introduced to the nation with 31 points in a dominant offensive rebounding display by the Trojans, while Purdue, falling for the classic 12-5 upset, shot poorly, turned the ball over 18 times and let the game slip away from them after leading for most of the second half. Vince Edwards led the Boilermakers with 24 points.
#11 Wichita State 65 #6 Arizona 55: An awful game for the Wildcats, who had 29 points with 12 minutes left in the game, which explains why Sean Miller was soaked in a white shirt, always a wrong choice for tense times. The Shockers defense forced 19 turnovers and didn’t allow Arizona to get to the line, while the Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker duo, combining to score 29 points, took care of things on offense for the team that came out of the First Four and looks red hot moving on.
#11 Gonzaga 68 #6 Seton Hall 52: The least surprising of the lower seed “upsets”. The magic of Isaiah Whitehead ended as he shot 4-of-24 from the field while the Bulldogs relied on Domantas Sabonis to carry them, with the son of the Lithuanian legend scoring 21 points, leading Gonzaga to a meeting with Utah.
#12 Yale 79 #5 Baylor 75: THE upset of the night, as Yale win its first ever NCAA Tournament game. Baylor had a meltdown, which included Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince almost coming to blows on the bench and later Prince provided an hilarious explanation about rebounding. As for Yale, they made the free throws they needed, led by Makai Mason with 31 points, including 11-for-11 from the line.
Business as Usual
#16 Austin Peay 79 #1 Kansas 105: The Jayhawks easily move past the first round in the South by getting past the Governors. Sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who played 12 minutes per game in the regular season, got a chance to pour on some points, finishing with a team-high 23, while more established players followed, including Perry Ellis with 21 points. Josh Robinson led Austin Peay with a game-high 24 points in a game that stopped being close before the half time break.
#16 Florida Gulf Coast 67 #1 North Carolina 83: Carolina (especially Joel Berry) shooting dreadfully and the athleticism of the Eagles kept them in the game for one half, but talent and experience comes through at some point. The Tar Heels held FGCU to just 27 points in the second half, led by Brice Johnson who scored 18 points, in a game that might encourage those who think the Tar Heels aren’t going to make it out of the first weekend.
#16 Hampton 45 #1 Virginia 81: It’s rare to see Virginia doing so well offensively, but there was no reason to turn this game into their usual slugfest. Tony Bennett had a scary moment on the sidelines but is fine for what comes next it seems, as Anthony Gill led the Cavaliers with 19 points in what might be the most one sided game we’ll see in the 2016 NCAA tournament.
#14 Buffalo 72 #3 Miami 79: The Bulls made things difficult for Miami all game long, leading for most of the first half and making a nice comeback effort late in the game, but the Hurricanes clinched the game from the line, shooting 26-for-34, with Angel Rodriguez (24 points) and Sheldon McClellan (20 points) hitting 19-of-24 to carry their team forward.
#13 Stony Brook 57 #4 Kentucky 85: This game was over very fast, as Kentucky held the Seawolves to just 26.3% from the field, setting themselves up with a rivalry game in the round of 32 against Indiana. Jamal Murray scored 19 points, one of five players (the entire lineup) to score in double figures.
#14 Fresno State 69 #3 Utah 80: A three pointer from Julien Lewis gave Fresno State a one point lead with 10 minutes to go in the second half, but Utah went on a 19-2 run to avoid a major upset in a game they controlled for about 90% of the time. Four players scored in double figures for the Utes, including 17 from Lorenzo Bonam, while Jakob Poeltl finished with 16 and 18 rebounds.
#12 Chattanooga 74 #5 Indiana 99: Manye don’t think Indiana can do well under Tom Crean in the tournament, but they did the expected with a win against the Mocs, leading all the way through and pulling away in the second half. Yogi Ferrell finished with an impressive 20 points, 10 assists double double. Indiana shot 64.9% from the field and 62.5% from beyond the arc.
#13 UNC Wilmington 85 #4 Duke 93: Not the most impressive of ways for Duke to progress, unable to shake a pesty Seahawks team that hit 11 three pointers and made the most of the bad Blue Devils defense. But Duke got to the line (43 free throw attempts) and had its stars carry them, as Marshall Plumlee and Grayson Allen each scored 23 points, while Brandon Ingram added 20.
#13 Iona 81 #4 Iowa State 94: Iona got 54 points out of Jordan Washington and A.J. English, but that was it. The Cyclones shot well from everywhere, as Georges Niang led them with 28 points in what might be a special, final run in the tournament. Monte Morris helped out with 20 points, Abdel Nader scored 19.
#9 Butler 71 #8 Texas Tech 61: It’s been a weird, slightly disappointing season for the Bulldogs, but it’s the day of the ‘Dawgs in the tournament, which makes it less surprising that they won, and a 9 seed beating an 8 seed is never surprising. Kellen Dunham scored 23 points while Butler shot 52.9% from beyond the arc. The Red Raiders had 18 points from Devaugntah Williams and not much else.
#9 UConn 74 #8 Colorado 67: The Huskies were part of three 9 seeds winning their games on the tournament’s opening day, as Rodney Purvis led them with 19 points. The Huskies pulled away in the second half, outscoring Colorado 47-31, with their defense putting the game to bed in the final 10 minutes. Josh Scott led the Buffaloes with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
#9 Providence 70 #8 USC 69: A game winning layup from Rodney Bullock completed the win for the Friars. getting past the first round for the first time since 1997. Bullock scored 19 points while Ben Bentil led Providence with 19. Jordan McLaughlin led USC with 15 points.
#10 Syracuse vs #7 Dayton (Midwest)
#15 UNC Asheville vs #2 Villanova (South)
#10 VCU vs #7 Oregon State (West)
#13 Hawaii vs #4 California (South)
#15 Middle Tennessee vs #2 Michigan State (Midwest)
#10 Temple vs #7 Iowa (South)
#15 CSU Bakersfield vs #2 Oklahoma (West)
#12 South Dakota State vs #5 Maryland (South)
#10 Pittsburgh vs #7 Wisconsin (East)
#14 Stephen F. Austin vs #3 West Virginia (East)
#14 Green Bay vs #3 Texas A&M (West)
#16 Holy Cross vs #1 Oregon (West)
#15 Weber State vs #2 Xavier (East)
#11 Michigan vs #6 Notre Dame (East)
#11 Northern Iowa vs #6 Texas (West)
#9 Cincinnati vs #8 Saint Joseph’s (West)