The first real day of March Madness is (almost) in the books. Sure, the play-in games already happened, but the Madness of March truly began on Thursday. Below, we have the results from every game, some of the top highlights and a look ahead to what's coming up Friday.
There weren't a ton of upsets Thursday (perhaps we'll get them Friday), but there were a few. We have them all listed below.
(12) Middle Tennessee Knocks Off (5) Minnesota 81-72
Technically, this wasn't an upset: Middle Tennessee was actually favored in this one. But it was a seed upset, so it counts. Reggie Upshaw carried the Blue Raiders, with 19 points and nine rebounds. The difference in this one was 3-point shooting. Middle Tennessee dominated the glass and that was the main difference. The Blue Raiders had 37 rebounds (11 offensive), while Minnesota had 24 (4 offensive). Hats off to Middle Tennessee, which needs to beat Butler to get to the Sweet 16.
(11) Xavier Beats (6) Maryland
Is it weird to say neither of these really felt like upsets? The Terrapins felt like an overseed, with Xavier has talent. In the end, the two-headed attack of Sean O'Mara and Trevon Blueitt was too much for Maryland. The duo combined for 39 points, with Bluiett putting up 21. Melo Trimble was limited to just 13 points.
These aren't just the best plays - there are some head-scratching ones too. Check them out below!
Critical Vandy Error
You have to feel bad for Matthew Fisher-Davis. He had 22 points for Vanderbilt, but his tournament will be forever remember by his critical mistake of a foul late against Northwestern. Thinking the Commodores were down, Fisher-Davis fouled Bryant McIntosh. Vandy was up 1, but would go on to lose.
Dwayne Bacon Rises Up For The Slam
That's the early front-runner for dunk of the tournament. Plus, who doesn't love Bacon?
Kevarrius Hayes Steal And Slam
This is the second-best slam. Hayes got way up there.
Reminder: Dunking Is Hard
Poor Brandon Goodwin. He's not going to live that one down anytime soon.
Princeton Can't Pull The Upset
It was a good look, but Notre Dame survived yet another opening round thriller.
Bill Murray Is Happy
There are surely only a handful of people more beloved than Bill Murray. So if he's happy, everyone should be happy. Well, except for Maryland fans.
Maybe it's the best outcome for your bracket, but there weren't many upsets. With that in mind, we have the results from all the "chalk" games below, with a quick thought (or two).
Rest Of The No. 5 Seeds Survive
It wasn't easy, but (5) Virginia and (5) Notre Dame held on against (12) UNC-Wilmington and (12) Princeton. UVA managed to win 76-71, after trailing by 15. Notre Dame let Princeton hang around, but picked up a 60-58 win. (12) Nevada hung around with (5) Iowa State, despite trailing by 13 at the half. But a near triple-double from Monte Morris (17 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists), was enough to give the Cyclones a 84-73 win. Minnesota was the only No. 5 seed to lose.
No. 4 Seeds Have Less Trouble
Speaking of the No. 4 seeds, (4) Purdue beat (13) Vermont 80-70 and (4) Florida beat (13) East Tennessee State 80-65. Both teams had minor issues (with Vermont giving Purdue a closer game than the score indicates), but March is all about surviving and advancing. (13) Winthrop showed some life against (4) Butler and it wasn't a blowout, but the Bulldogs seemed in control throughout, winning 76-64. In the exception for this, (4) West Virginia did have trouble against (13) Bucknell. It was close throughout, as the normally stout "Press Virginia" defense allowed 80 points. But the offense put up 86 and WVU moves on. So, all the No. 4 seeds won their opening game this year.
No. 1 Seeds Remain Perfect
There was a brief moment where it looked like (1) Villanova might actually be in trouble. It took them six minutes to score against (16) Mount St. Mary's and they were down for almost the entire first half. But, they turned it on in the second half, picking up a 76-56 win. (1) Gonzaga didn't have much trouble with (16) South Dakota State, even though the Jackrabbits kind of hung around in a 66-46 Zags win.
The two best games might have been the No. 8/9 matchups. You saw what helped (8) Northwestern beat (9) Vanderbilt 68-66 above. The final two minutes or so of that game are the best so far in the tournament. (8) Wisconsin vs. (9) Virginia Tech was a much closer game than the 84-74 score indicates. The Badgers pulled away late, as the Hokies failed to make a basket from the field in 5:37.
We'll group the rest of the games together. (7) Saint Mary's, behind 18 points from Jock Landale, beat (10) VCU 85-77. (3) Florida State got one heck of a game from (14) FGCU. But the Dunk City magic wasn't enough. The Seminoles nearly gave it away late with a series of mistakes, but held on for a 86-80 win. (2) Arizona vs. (15) North Dakota wasn't that interesting, as the Wildcats won 100-82.
What's On Deck Friday
We've got another full day of action coming up on Friday. We're not going to list every game (you should just pull up the scores section in Chat Sports App for that!), but we do have some of the more notable games mentioned below.
(10) Oklahoma State vs. (7) Michigan - 12:15 p.m. ET
I fully expect this to be one of the more fun games to watch. Oklahoma State can score and Michigan is coming in on fire. This could be a barnburner.
(11) USC vs. (6) SMU - 3:10 p.m. ET
SMU has talent, but USC is coming in off a win. The Mustangs could end up being an upset victim, or maybe this starts a Sweet 16 run.
(11) Rhode Island vs. (6) Creighton - 4:30 p.m. ET
Speaking of upsets, one of the few I picked was Rhode Island over Creighton. The Blue Jays aren't the same team without PG Maurice Watson Jr. and I think they get bounced early. Let's see if I'm right. The spread has this game as a pick 'em.
(10) Wichita State vs. (7) Dayton - 7:10 p.m. ET
The Shockers were seeded far too low. They're not a No. 10 seed, and the Flyers might be the unfortunate victim. I like Wichita State to pull off the "upset." The Shockers are actually 6-point favorites. It's too bad the committee elected to put the mid-majors against each other this year (see VCU vs. Saint Mary's).
(11) Kansas State vs. (6) Cincinnati - 7:27 p.m. ET
The Wildcats beat Wake Forest in a high-scoring affair in the play-in game and now they'll get a completely different game. This one will be slow-paced and low-scoring. So you can miss the first half and then some. But tune in for the final few minutes: it will be a close finish.
(10) Marquette vs. South Carolina - 9:50 p.m. ET
Obviously your day will be filled with basketball. Here's the best game from the nightcap worth watching. South Carolina is just a 1.5-point favorite, and I like Marquette in this one.