It was the very first game of the day. The 12:15pm tip from the South Regional in Buffalo featured the Ohio State Buckeyes and a team from within Ohio as well in the Dayton Flyers. It did not disappoint.
The Flyers pulled out a 60-59 victory in dramatic fashion as they scored with about four seconds remaining and then had to survive an Aaron Craft drive to the hoop where his desperation shot failed. This was only the second time in eleven trips to the tournament that Thad Matta and the Buckeyes exited in the first (NCAA calls it second) round.
While there was no joy in Columbus, this was the perfect start to another NCAA Tournament.
It didn’t stop there though as we got our first 12 vs. 5 upset in the very first of those four games. 12-seed Harvard upset fifth seeded Cincinnati 61-57 to advance. This outcome was not overly surprising to many because the Crimson entered with tournament experience and have a seasoned, veteran coach in Tommy Amaker.
How rare is it to see Harvard in the NCAA Tournament? Put it this way, Harvard has seen more graduates go on to become president of the United States than they have seen go on the National Basketball Association.
Also in usual day one fashion, we saw a number one seed flirt with disaster. The Florida Gators got all they could handle from Albany before finally pulling away and winning 67-55. As you know, there has never been a number one seed that has gone down to a 16-seed and it appears that we aren’t going to see it here either.
The rest of the early action featured massive blowouts including Pitt’s huge win over Colorado by the score of 77-48. This was an 8-9 match-up and these are typically supposed to be among the most even games. This was so bad that at one point, the Panthers only outscored the Buffaloes 31-30 in the second half. That means the halftime score was 46-18.
That my friends is ugly.
Not to be outdone was Wisconsin. The Badgers found themselves down early in the game to American who appeared to be quite ready for the aggressive Badgers. Wisconsin took advantage of the home crowd in Milwaukee and blitzed the Eagles 43-13 in the second half to win 75-35. If Wisconsin can play defensively this way throughout the tourney then they have as good of a shot as anyone.
The competition will ramp up significantly however.
Looking Ahead to Today
I love the Nebraska-Baylor Match-up. This features the 11th seeded Huskers and the sixth-seeded Bears. Baylor really picked things up towards the end of the season while Nebraska pushed all of the top teams in the Big Ten. I expect this game to much closer than some expect.
Eighth seeded Gonzaga takes on ninth seed Oklahoma State and believe you’ll see a much more competitive game than the Pitt-Colorado eight-nine game. Many people think the Cowboys have Final Four talent while this ‘Zags team has flown under the radar compared to more recent teams.
Although there’s already been a 12-5 upset, there could be another one in the works for today. Stephen F. Austin has not lost a game since November and goes up against fifth seeded VCU. This isn’t one of Shaka Smart’s best teams but it’s still a very good one. That said, I really like how SFA plays. They are very deliberate offensively and play very well on the defensive end as well.