The first full day of the lads’s NCAA Tournament returned with the insanity we have grown to count on.
Friday’s first-round March Madness motion gave us a No. 15 seed upsetting a No. 2, a No. 13 seed upsetting a No. 4, a No. 12 seed upsetting a No. 5, and a No. 11 upsetting a No. 6.
Those bracket-busting upsets are exactly what put the insanity in March, with the only elimination format delivering a brutal blow to the higher-seeded Big Ten teams of the tourney.
There had been additionally these groups that got down to show doubters and naysayers fallacious by keeping off the plenty that picked in opposition to them (ahem, Villanova, Wisconsin). The solely narrative we will count on is one in every of unexpectedness.
With Friday’s 16 video games within the rear-view, this is a take a look at six key takeaways:
Oral Roberts is that this 12 months’s Cinderella. The Golden Eagles grew to become simply the ninth No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament historical past to dispatch a No. 2 seed with a thrilling 75-72 win over Ohio State. This staff has two stars that present ammunition for an even deeper March run (Sweet 16?). Max Abmas — the nation’s main scorer — and sidekick Kevin Obanor mixed for 59 factors in opposition to the Buckeyes. Florida may need the higher seed within the second spherical, however Oral Roberts could have the bracket-busting momentum.
North Texas can be a bracket-buster. The Mean Green put on the second glass slipper of the day by ousting No. 4 Purdue — the second high-seeded Big Ten staff to fall in extra time to a mid-major. North Texas, the winner of Conference USA, has two stars in Javion Hamlet and Thomas Bell. Similar to Oral Roberts, North Texas has a pleasant pathway to doubtlessly attain the Sweet 16, drawing a susceptible Villanova staff lacking Big East participant of the 12 months Collin Gillespie within the second spherical. The Sweet 16 is in sight.
Baylor and Illinois look legit. The two No. 1 seeds in motion Friday appeared spectacular in opposition to No. 16 seed opponents — as anticipated. The Bears (23-2) hammered Hartford by 24 factors, whereas the Fighting Illini (24-6) steamrolled Drexel by 29. Both groups should not have bother getting previous their second-round opponents, both, to advance to the Sweet 16 on Sunday. In a Dec. 2 sport, Baylor bought the most effective of Illinois, however the Illini are a lot better now. A rematch within the Final Four would make for an epic showdown. Ayo Dosunmu, USA TODAY Sports’ nationwide participant of the 12 months, may help carry this staff to net-cutting in April.
Syracuse and Oregon State do not appear to be double-digit seeds. The No. 11-seeded Orange (17-9) squeezed into the sphere as a bubble staff, and the No. 12-seeded Beavers (18-12) performed their method into the sphere of 68 by profitable the Pac-12 match. Neither squad appeared like a double-digit seed of their convincing first-round wins, as ‘Cuse cruised previous No. 6 San Diego State 78-62 behind Buddy Boeheim’s 30 factors and OSU won its first tourney game in 39 years by drubbing No. 5 Tennessee 70-56.
Arkansas and Texas Tech emerge as Final Four darkhorses. Both the Razorbacks (23-6) and Red Raiders (18-10) had been taking part in in opposition to mid-major Cinderella candidates however had been in a position to flush out these upset bids and, within the course of, present why they’re sleeper picks to succeed in the Final Four. Yes, the Final Four — over an Illinois or Baylor. Coach Eric Musselman confirmed he is aware of tips on how to fluctuate sport tempo in a 17-point win over Colgate. That makes Arkansas harmful, and Justin Smith’s 29 factors and 13 rebounds assist that trigger. Meanwhile, coach Chris Beard (9-3 in NCAA Tournament video games) piloted Texas Tech previous Utah State by 12. TTU’s smothering protection pressured the Aggies into 22 turnovers and 21% 3-point capturing.
Oklahoma State is greater than Cade Cunningham, kind of. The 6-8 level guard, a first-team All-American anticipated to be the No. 1 choose within the NBA draft, has the power to dazzle because the match’s predominant star. On Friday in opposition to Liberty, Cunningham was chilly and solely had six factors going into the sport’s closing stretch. But even on an off capturing evening, Cunningham was in a position to patiently penetrate the lane and draw fouls to assist OSU comfortably draw back and shake off Liberty’s upset bid. Cunningham (3-for-14 from the ground for 15 factors), who can explode for 30 or 40 factors on any evening, has been at his greatest this season in clutch moments. That’s an thrilling notion heading into the second spherical.
Follow faculty basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.