The first round of the NCAA Tournament began with Hampton beating Manhattan 74-64 which means they’ll face Kentucky next, while Ole Miss pulled off a big comeback in a 94-90 win against BYU, setting themselves up on a date with Xavier.
The Pirates were only 8-8 in the MEAC this season, but winning a conference tournament can take you a very long way. They are the 8th to enter the NCAA tournament with a losing record and still win a game. It doesn’t make them any more likely to beat Kentucky as a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed, but just getting there after this season is something worth mentioning.
Hampton stayed away from tough 3-pointers and attacked the paint, which resulted in high shooting percentages, hitting 49.1% of their shots. It also allowed them to take plenty of trips to the line (19-of-34), led by Quinton Chievous with 15 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Reginald Johnson scoring 15 as well.
The battle of #11’s featured bigger names on the college scene, Ole Miss and BYU. Not basketball powerhouses, but teams with a bit more meat and history behind them.
BYU held a 17-point lead at half time which Ole Miss slowly chipped away at by dominating the paint and getting a great game from Stefan Moody (scoring 26 points) and M.J. Rhett with 20 points. Jarvis Summers couldn’t hit anything (just 5-of-21 from the field), but he did add 10 assists and kept the pace very high for the Rebels when they needed to press and run BYU off the floor.
A 15-2 run midway through the second half turned the tide, and 16 offensive rebounds while also outscoring BYU 25-0 off of turnovers and the paint battle 42-12 showed just how difficult it was for the Cougars to hang in a game with just 3-pointers going their way, and even that didn’t last for the entire night.
This isn’t really a first round. This is a preliminary round with a certain package by the NCAA trying to make it seem more glamorous. But the real tournament begins only after the first four games.