During the day session of Thursday’s first-round games, the favorites had a pretty fantastic start to the NCAA Tournament. They won 7 of the 8 games on the schedule. However, there were a few upset alerts and this tournament could have been turned on its head in the first few hours. Instead, most of the seeds held except for one. The Miami Hurricanes dropped in the last second to the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers with a 3-point dagger. So far, it’s been the highlight of the day.
There have been a few more highlight plays across the country. Zach Norvell may have hit the third biggest 3-pointer of the day. His clutch play lifted the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a win over the upset-minded UNC-Greensboro Spartans. The ACC went (1-2) on Thursday afternoon. No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils were the only winner.
Here is Thursday the Thursday afternoon recap by region.
3 Tennessee Volunteers 73
14 Wright State Raiders 47
The Tennessee Volunteers had very little problems in their first-round matchup against the Wright State Raiders. The Volunteers had three players reach double figures. Lamonte Turner came off the bench to lead the team with 19 points. He hit 2 of 5 from 3-point range, while dishing out nine assists in a brilliant effort. Admiral Schofield had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow forward Grant Williams barely missed one with 14 points and 9 rebounds. The Volunteers held the Raiders below 32 percent shooting and never let them get comfortable. Although the victory was easy, the Volunteers need to shoot better from beyond the arc. They only made 27.8 percent of their 3-point attempts in the win.
11 Loyola-Chi Ramblers 64
6 Miami Hurricanes 62
It took a few games, but the NCAA Tournament finally had its first buzzer-beater. Donte Ingram hit a long 3-pointer with .3 seconds left in the game to knock off the Miami Hurricanes. The No. 11 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers played tough in the first half. However, they gave up a lead during the middle portion of the second half and continued to fight to stay alive. At one point, the Ramblers missed five straight shots to tie the game. Therefore, it was only fitting that they hit a 3-pointer as the clock was heading toward zero. So far, they are the first and only double digit seed to make the Round of 32. They’ll be taking on the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday.
4 Gonzaga Bulldogs 68
13 UNCG Spartans 64
This wasn’t exactly the way the Gonzaga Bulldogs wrote this up. At least they know their freshmen are up to the task. The Bulldogs trailed 64-61 in the final minutes to the UNC-Greensboro Spartans. The defense was hounding the Zags all day. That was, until Zach Norvell Jr. hit a game-winning 3-pointer with under a minute left in the game. Still, Gonzaga struggled to put the game away at the foul line. Rui Hachimura missed a pair of free throws to leave the door open. However, the Spartans missed a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds. The Bulldogs moved on in dramatic fashion. Jonathan Williams produced 19 points and 13 rebounds in the win. The Bulldogs had three players reach double figures.
5 Ohio State Buckeyes 81
12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits 73
The mantra for the first-round game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and South Dakota State Jackrabbits must have been ‘let it fly.’ The Buckeyes hit 12 of 40 3-point attempts, while the Jackrabbits connected on 13 of 31 3-point attempts. In the end, it was a four-point play that did the Buckeyes in when the game was tied in the final two minutes. In fact, the Jackrabbits fouled a 3-point shooter on consecutive possessions to turn a tie game into an eight point loss. The Buckeyes had three players score at least 20 points. Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Daum poured in 27 points for the Jackrabbits.
1 Kansas Jayhawks 76
16 Penn Quakers 60
If nobody picked the Pennsylvania Quakers to upset the Kansas Jayhawks in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament, maybe the No. 1 seed would have been shell shocked. The Quakers jumped out to a 21-13 lead in the first half and the Jayhawks had to figure out a way to defeat the Ivy League Champions. A 17-2 run in the first half helped. However, it was a late second half run when the Quakers got the game down to 62-58 that really sealed the deal. Devonte’ Graham also rose to the occasion with 29 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Without Graham, the Jayhawks may have been the first No. 1 seed explaining their first-round loss. Instead, the Jayhawks are waiting on the winner between Seton Hall and North Carolina State.
8 Seton Hall Pirates 94
9 North Carolina State Wolfpack 83
The Seton Hall Pirates led their first-round matchup against the North Carolina State Wolfpack wire to wire. Khadeen Carrington led the Pirates with 26 points. Desi Rodriguez came off the bench to score 20 points. In all, the Pirates had five players reach double figures. They shot 7 of 21 from 3-point range. However, the Pirates had a parade to the foul line, making 31 of 39 attempts. The Wolfpack never got their press going and only forced seven turnovers in the loss. Allerik Freeman scored 36 points in the loss. Unfortunately, Freeman wasn’t able to get the Wolfpack over the hump in second half. After the win, the Pirates are set to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the round of 32.
2 Duke Blue Devils 89
15 Iona Gaels 67
We knew the Iona Gaels could score. We also knew they couldn’t matchup with the Duke Blue Devils in the paint. As it turns out, the Blue Devils got any shot they wanted in the 18 point win. Marvin Bagley scored 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the victory. They will get a chance to play another undersized team when they meet up with the Rhode Island Rams. The Blue Devils had four players score in double figures. They connected on 13 of 30 3-pointers in the win. Unfortunately, the Gaels couldn’t hit many shots from downtown. They were only 5 of 24 from deep.
7 Rhode Island Rams 83
10 Oklahoma Sooners 78
The Rhode Island Rams matched every big shot as was noted in breakdown of the win over Oklahoma. Now, the Rams will take on the Duke Blue Devils in what should be a great test in the lane. Remember, they struggled with Oklahoma’s length for the majority of the contest.