As we settle into day two of the NCAA Tournament, I think sometimes you lose sight of how much happened the day before. It’s a lot to digest and there is a bunch that can get lost in the shuffle. Overall, there were two “upsets” in day one. Middle Tennessee State beat Minnesota and Xavier won over Maryland. The higher seed held up in the other 14 contests. Those were:
- Notre Dame over Princeton
- Virginia over UNC Wilmington
- Butler over Winthrop
- Gonzaga over South Dakota State
- Florida over East Tennessee State
- West Virginia over Bucknell
- Northwestern over Vanderbilt
- Villanova over Mount St Mary’s
- Purdue over Vermont
- Saint Mary’s over VCU
- Florida State over Florida Gulf Coast
- Wisconsin over Virginia Tech
- Iowa State over Nevada
- Arizona over North Dakota
One of my biggest pet peeves is when college hoops analysts try to tell you our sport is still great even without the upsets. Sure, they are what make March Madness special, but they are upsets for a reason. And making a blanket statement after 16 games is short sighted and panicky. Half the first round is still to come! Even without upsets, it sets up great battles in the round of 32.
I’ll quit that tangent before it really gets going. Let’s get to some superlatives that highlighted day 1.
Most Impressive Team: Florida Gators
When thinking about this one, what it came down to is picking the team that exceeded my expectations by the greatest margin. Florida fits the bill because East Tennessee State was such a trendy upset pick. You continued to hear about their .500 record without John Egbunu and how they could be picked off in round one. But the Gators look like a team that can win multiple games. They physically posed themselves on their Southern conference foe. Mike White’s squad got to the free throw line 27 times compared the Buccaneers’ low 10. While they won’t be able to bully their way to a Final Four, the fact they won going away with KeVaughn Allen going 1 for 11 from the field is flat out impressive.
Game of the Day: Notre Dame and Princeton
It’s a shame we won’t get to see the Ivy League champs again. They hung tough with Notre Dame the entire way and had a shot to win it at the end. The Irish are coming off back to back Elite Eights and continued the winning ways in yesterday’s opener. Click here for more on that one.
Moment of the Day: Matthew Fisher-Davis fouling Bryant McIntosh
It’s an absolute shame that this is going to be the one to remember but it will be. In Northwestern’s first NCAA Tournament game, they led 49-37 with 13 minutes to go. Vandy fought all the way back and took a 66-65 lead with 17 seconds to play thanks to a Riley LaChance layup. However, Matthew Fisher Davis must not have realized the score and intentionally fouled Bryant McIntosh in the backcourt with 14 seconds left. McIntosh made both free throws and Northwestern hung on for the win. Fisher-Davis played an unbelievable game off the bench with 22 points, but he’s not going to be remembered for that. Remember in these scenarios, no one will be harsher than the player himself and that is the downside of March. Congrats to Chris Collins and his team for moving on.
Best Matchup to Look Forward to: Iowa State and Purdue
The class of the Big Ten will be squaring off with the Big 12 Tournament Champions. Purdue has the frontcourt stud in Caleb Swanigan and Iowa State has one of the nation’s best point guards in Monte Morris. Purdue survived Vermont while Iowa State looked fantastic against upset special Nevada. Get ready for a long form bull and bear case between McGinley and I on this one later. I got the Cyclones; he has the Boliermakers.