Yesterday's diverse day of action failed to see a buzzer beater until Texas' Cameron Ridley scored a put-back off the glass from a loose ball scramble to take down Arizona State 87-75 around midnight eastern time, but four games went to overtime with plenty of drama along the way.
The unofficial first day of NCAA tournament action started off with an upset: 11-seed Dayton over 6-seed Ohio State 60-59. The unlikely was not entirely unexpected since the Buckeyes proved this season that they were susceptible to upsets. While Pittsburgh was thrashing Colorado, Tommy Amaker's Harvard Crimson Tide produced the second upset of the day, a 61-57 over offensively challenged Cincinnati.
The middle portion of Thursday's slate was flooded with blowouts until Connecticut clawed their way to an overtime win over Saint Joseph's after trailing for most of the game. Two of the next three games also included extra time when NC State missed a handful of free throws en route to blowing a 19-point second half lead before losing to Saint Louis in overtime and a resilient North Dakota State edge Oklahoma in the first overtime period.
Aside from Texas - Arizona State in the four-block of night cap games, the lone Big East team in action, Villanova, picked up where they left off in New York and struggled in the first half against Milwaukee before running away with the game in the second half. In one of the most thrilling games of the day, Manhattan pushed Louisville to the edge before Luke Hancock and Russ Smith hit several clutch shots down the stretch to pull out a 71-64 Cardinals win. Manhattan and Louisville put on a Sweet 16-type performance that showed a Jasper team that looked to have Sweet 16 potential no matter who they were facing.
In the last game of the day, San Diego State let a late 10+ point lead slip away to New Mexico State, who made their second run on the night. The Aztecs scratched out an uneasy 73-69 victory in overtime at 1:30 am on the east coast.
Today, 11-seed Tennessee and 6-seed UMass (2:45, CBS) highlight an early group of games that isn't particularly appealing on paper. Two 8-9 seed games kick off the evening stretch of games with Oklahoma State - Gonzaga (4:40 TNT) and Memphis - George Washington (6:55 TBS) providing two games that can go either way. Oklahoma State is surging with a complete lineup led by Marcus Smart while the Tigers and Colonials should produce an exciting uptempo game.
At night, Stephen F. Austin - VCU (7:27, truTV) will be a great game if the previous three 12-5 seed matchups have provided any insight. The game will be all about controlling tempo, the Rams are the 21st quickest team in the country while the Lumberjacks are a sluggish 303rd in national tempo. The third 8-9 game of the day, Kansas State - Kentucky (9:40, CBS) seeds UK as five-point favorites to play the winner of Wichita State and Cal Poly in the third round.
Creighton - Louisiana-Lafayette (3:10, truTV) and Providence - North Carolina (7:20, TNT) are the two Big East schools in action today. Providence are four-point underdogs against the Tar Heels.
Here are complete times, stations, and announcing crews for today's games.
Any thoughts or comments about yesterday's games? What do you think of the Big East's performance (1-1) in the Big Dance so far? Predictions/upsets for today's slate?
Three readers are tied for first (15 points) after one day in the SOJ bracket pool: Francis Schiano, Brian Franklin, and Quinn Bowler.