The NCAA Tournament bracket following the Collegian’s simulation of the second day of first round games. Graphic by Joshua Doering.
DREW SANDIFER | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
What a day of college basketball yesterday. So far in the tournament, 15-seeds have a winning record over their 2-seed opponents, Seton Hall fell in the first round and multiple games have changed hands in the final minutes. And we’re only halfway done with round of 64 action! Without further ado, let’s dive in.
12:15 p.m.: (13) Akron vs (4) Maryland, Greensboro, NC
An upset-minded MAC champ in Akron marched into a pro-Terrapin crowd and held their own in the first half. The Zips trailed by only two at the break. However, a 15-2 run for Maryland jump started by Jalen “Sticks” Smith propelled the Terps to a lead that they would not relinquish. While there were no crazy tables turned in this game, the Zips showed the fight that this was going to be a crazy day of hoops. Strap in.
Maryland 72, Akron 60
MARY: Jalen Smith 21 pts, 17 rebs
AKR: Loren Jackson 16 pts, 5 rebs
12:40 p.m.: (16) Boston U vs (1) Dayton, Cleveland, OH
Heading into the day, UMBC in 2018 had been the only 16-seed to ever beat a 1-seed. Obi Toppin and Dayton made quick work to ensure that the Terriers would not be the second 16 to win in the round of 64. The Flyers exploded out of the gates to an 18-point lead at the break and would never look back. Getting a standing ovation leaving the floor for the last time, the Boston U seniors embraced knowing they had achieved something not done at their school in decades, proving the tournament is not just for the big boys. All Flyers in this one, though, they advance.
Dayton 86, Boston U 57
DAY: Obi Toppin 21 pts, 6 rebs
BU: Max Mahoney 12 pts, 5 rebs
1:30 p.m.: (9) Marquette vs (8) Houston, Omaha, NE
A high-quality 8/9 matchup takes place early in Omaha as the nation’s leading scorer, Markus Howard, fought to make sure it would not be his final game in the Marquette blue and gold. The Golden Eagles held a small lead for the majority of the last ten minutes. A Sacar Anim 3-pointer extended the lead to six with 90 seconds to go, but Houston would keep the game close. A clutch Quentin Grimes three brought the Cougars within one with 15 seconds left. Anim knocked down two free throws, and the Cougars missed two long-range shots including one at the buzzer. As long as Markus Howard is on Marquette, they will be a dangerous out in March. Kansas likely will be their second-round opponent.
Marquette 73, Houston 70
MARQ: Markus Howard 28 pts, 7 rebs
HOU: Quentin Grimes 19 pts
2 p.m.: (13) North Texas vs (4) Wisconsin, Sacramento, CA
Far from their home in Madison, the Big Ten regular season champion Wisconsin Badgers looked to avoid upset against the Mean Green out of Conference USA. North Texas actually led at halftime, 36-35. However, a very efficient game from Nate Reuvers proved to be the difference in this one. The Badgers’ leading scorer was 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range to lead UW to a fierce comeback in the second half. Like we’ve seen with other teams, there isn’t a bona fide Badger star, but you don’t win the Big Ten by accident. Wisconsin advances.
Wisconsin 70, North Texas 61
WISC: Nate Reuvers 15 pts, 5 rebs
UNT: Umoja Gibson 14 pts
2:45 p.m.: (11) East Tennessee State vs (6) Iowa, Greensboro, NC
Let’s cut to the chase. ETSU has 30 wins; they’re very good. Iowa has a National Player of the Year finalist; they’re very good. ETSU holds a nine-point lead at the under-four media timeout in the second half. However, an Iowa flurry over the next 90 seconds would tie things up at 72 with just over two minutes. After Iowa knocked down 1-of-2 free throws a few seconds later, both teams went ice cold from the floor for over a whole minute of pressure game time. CJ Frederick made 1-of-2 free throws with 30 seconds left to extend the Hawkeye lead to a basket.
On the ensuing possession, ETSU’s Joe Hugley drilled a jumper from the wing to knot us up at 74. With the shot clock turned off, Iowa was determined to take this down to the end. Luka Garza? Denied. Joe Wieskamp drives to the left, turn-around jumper just outside of the paint… GOOD! At the buzzer! Iowa escapes with a come-from-behind win in Greensboro! The bench mobs the floor as we get our first buzzer beater of the tournament, in front of a pro-ETSU crowd, no less.
Iowa 76, East Tennessee State 74
IOWA: Luka Garza 23 pts, 6rebs
ETSU: Tray Boyd 15 pts, 5 asts
3:10 p.m.: (14) Bradley vs (3) Michigan State, Cleveland, OH
Yesterday’s shocking upsets have proven to be an anomaly so far today. Michigan State held a close one-point lead at the half, but the second was reserved for the Spartan super senior Cassius Winston. He led the green and white to a 39-point half to pull away from the Missouri Valley champion Braves. Even though the Spartans are a three seed, they have to be considered one of the favorites to make a run to Atlanta for the Final Four in two weeks. Tom Izzo has his squad running on all cylinders at the right time of year. They’ll face the Virginia-Cincinnati winner in the next round.
Michigan State 69, Bradley 57
MSU: Cassius Winston 23 pts, 5 rebs
BRAD: Danya Kingsby 14 pts
4 p.m.: (16) Winthrop vs (1) Baylor, Omaha, NE
Maybe I should have kept to myself about the lack of chaos today in the tournament. Although, did you expect anything less from this season in college basketball? Not only did Winthrop overthrow the little order we had left in this simulation, they overpowered Baylor from the jump. The Eagles scored 50 points in the first half and outshot the Bears over the course of the game from 3-point range 62% to 22%. An all-time upset in March, the Eagles capture their first tournament win since Gregg Marshall was at the helm. Baylor’s tournament struggles have reached a historic low. This is March.
Winthrop 87, Baylor 61
WIN: Hunter Hale 20 pts, 5 rebs
BAY: Jared Butler 16 pts, 5 TOs
4:30 p.m.: (12) Liberty vs (5) Auburn, Sacramento, CA
Finishing off the last of the afternoon games was a trendy upset pick for many bracket picks as Liberty looked to upend Auburn. Bruce Pearl’s squad overcame a one-point deficit at the half, holding a small advantage the majority of the way. Liberty pulled their deficit to one with seven minutes remaining but was never able to retake the lead. A Caleb Homesley 3-pointer with just over a second to go pulled the Flames to two points, but Auburn was able to inbound the ball with 0.5 seconds left and knocked down one of two free throws. Liberty did not have time to get a shot off. Auburn will advance to play the Wisconsin Badgers in the round of 32.
Auburn 77, Liberty 74
AUB: Austin Wiley 15 pts, 11 rebs
LIB: Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz 18 pts
6:50 p.m.: (12) Richmond vs (5) Butler, Greensboro, NC
Kicking off the primetime window was Richmond, fresh off a First Four win in Dayton, and Butler. The Spiders executed out of the gate and led by a score of 41-32 at the half. The Bulldogs were able to score at a decent clip, but their patented gritty defense allowed too many easy shots for Richmond who kept an arm’s distance from Butler for the large majority of the second half. Kamar Baldwin impressed with 19 points in his final game in a Butler uniform, but the team’s inability to convert 3-point attempts – 29% – was the reason they could not mount a comeback. In their final games, Sean McDermott had 11, Derrik Smits had five and Henry Baddley scored four. Richmond advances and will play its third game in five days Sunday vs. Maryland.
Richmond 74, Butler 67
RICH: Jacob Gilyard 20 pts, 5 rebs
BUT: Kamar Baldwin 19 pts
7:10 p.m.: (11) Cincinnati vs (6) Virginia, Cleveland, OH
As expected, this was a slow, grind-it-out game between two programs that are historically known for being defensive-minded. The reigning champion Cavaliers held a slight lead for the larger part of the early second half, but a notable 8-0 Cincinnati run pushed the Bearcats to a lead they would never relinquish. A bucket from Braxton Key would pull Virginia to a tie, but UC would respond with another 7-0 run that would ice the game for the Bearcats. John Brannen earns his first tournament win in the new program. They will play Michigan State next.
Cincinnati 56, Virginia 52
CIN: Tre Scott 15 pts, 11 rebs
UVA: Kihei Clark 12 pts, 8 asts, 5 rebs
7:20 p.m.: (16) Siena vs (1) Kansas, Omaha, NE
No madness for Kansas in this first round game. Headlined by the Jayhawks’ two stars, the team roared to an 18-point halftime lead and would coast the rest of the second half to the win. In fact, Devon Dotson, 32 points, and Udoka Azubukie, 21 points, nearly outscored the Saints by themselves. Eyes will be on those two for the rest of the tournament and they will be the keys if Kansas wants to cut down the nets in Atlanta. The stars will be shining bright on Sunday as the Jayhawks will meet Markus Howard and Marquette in the round of 32.
Kansas 76, Siena 58
KU: Devon Dotson 32 pts
SIE: Jalen Pickett 20 pts, 5 rebs
7:30 p.m.: (10) Texas Tech vs (7) Arizona, Sacramento, CA
Arizona could not have asked for a better first half. The Wildcats sprinted from the tipoff to lead 11-0 after just over three minutes of play. From there, they extended their lead as they reached halftime, doubling the Red Raiders at the break, 40-20. However, a Terrance Shannon three capped a 28-7 run for Chris Beard’s Red Raiders to take the lead with under eight to play. Sean Miller’s group would counterpunch, though, taking an eight point lead with under a minute to play that they would ride out until the end. Arizona advances to its 12th round of 32 appearance in the past 21 years.
Arizona 69, Texas Tech 61
AZ: Josh Green 19 pts, 9 rebs
TTU: Davide Moretti 14pts
9:20 p.m.: (14) Belmont vs (3) Duke, Greensboro, NC
While Duke is arguably the best program in college basketball, they have proven time and time again to be especially susceptible to losses in this round of the tournament. Mercer, Lehigh, Belmont? The Bruins sure made an effort to join that club. Let’s go straight to the final 96 seconds. Duke’s Cassius Stanley breaks a 76-76 tie with a jumper from the right side. Belmont answers right back with a Muszynski three to put the Bruins on top. Duke responds again with a big-time Matthew Hurt three to put the Blue Devils back up two. After a Belmont miss, the Bruins made a costly decision to play straight-up defense, on which Stanley capitalized with a running floater as the shot clock expired. Belmont had little time left and an attempt to draw a foul shooting a three failed. Duke advances to an exciting second round matchup with Iowa
Duke 81, Belmont 77
DUKE: Vernon Carey 18 pts, 12 rebs
BEL: Nick Muszynski 17 pts, 5 rebs
9:40 p.m.: (9) Florida vs (8) Colorado, Cleveland, OH
Coming into the season ranked number six in the country, it would be an understatement to say Mike White and the Florida Gators failed to reach expectations this regular season. However, all of that frustration can go away with a deep run in March. The Gators made a good start to that goal on Friday with a convincing win, albeit over a sputtering Colorado team. Despite a rough game from Kerry Blackshear, Florida shot almost 55% from the field and 45% from three. The Gators are about the last team a 1-seed wants to see in just the second round of the tournament. It should be a good matchup between Florida and Dayton on Sunday.
Florida 77, Colorado 65
FLA: Andrew Nembhard 18 pts, 5 asts
COL: Tyler Bey 18 pts, 9 rebs
9:50 p.m.: (9) Rutgers vs (8) Saint Mary’s, Omaha, NE
With their first tournament appearance in 29 years, the energy was through the roof for Rutgers squaring off against tournament regular Saint Mary’s. The worry for the Scarlet Knights heading in, though, was how well they would play away from home. The team was just 2-10 in games outside of their home arena. Akwasi Yeboah was the hero in the end, going 7-for-8 from the field – 3-3 from three – to lead the Scarlet Knights to their first tournament win since 1983. They’ll have a good chance to go to their first Sweet 16 since ’79 with a matchup with 16-seed darling Winthrop on Sunday.
Rutgers 66, Saint Mary’s 55
RUTG: Akwasi Yeboah 17 pts, 7 rebs
SMC: Malik Fitts 14 pts, 7 rebs
10 p.m.: (15) UC Irvine vs (2) San Diego State, Sacramento, CA
Another late-night west coast battle on Friday night saw a high seed sweat out a game against a much lesser opponent. The Anteaters of UC Irvine kept the game really close throughout, even getting it within two points with just over a minute to go. However, Aztecs answered big shots with opportune baskets, sealing the game. The Aztecs will face a tough Arizona team on Sunday, looking to advance to their third Sweet 16 in program history. Malachi Flynn seemed to tweak an ankle in this win, scoring just six points on 3-for-11 on the field. His effectiveness will be key for the Aztecs moving forward.
San Diego State 77, UC Irvine 71
SDSU: KJ Feagin 17 pts
UCI: Tommy Rutherford 16 pts, 5 rebs
Wow. A 16-seed, two 15-seeds and a 14-seed have made this tournament one for multiple Cinderellas. However, if there were any year for this to happen, it would be 2020. There are still some good matchups between high seeds, while others include a team like Rutgers being the overwhelming favorite. It should be an exciting couple days of hoops as teams look to extend their stay in Big Dance another weekend. Stay tuned for detailed coverage.