You will notice in my title that I called it the first round. That is because I am correct. The four play in games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights are just that. They are play in games. For college basketball fans, gambling junkies, and for those who had nothing better to do, the last two days have been pretty memorable. There were 13 upsets over the course of the two days, which ties the all time record set back in 2001. Just like yesterday, a number 15 team in Hampton knocked off a number 2 seed in Iowa State 58-57.
On Thursday, I held my breathe for a solid two hours as Duke struggled against UNC-Wilmington before pulling away. Shout out to Marshall Plume for setting a new career high in points with 23 points. The Dukies will take on Yale after the upset and out rebounded an athletic Baylor team. Oh that was a 12-5 upset, no surprise there. When asked by a reporter about the rebound situation, Baylor big man Taurean Prince had a great response.
We also witnessed some other “upsets” when 11 seed Gonzaga took care of business against The Big East tourney champs in Seton Hall. Gonzaga is getting hot at the right time and could make a strong run to the Final Four. Another “upset” that came down to a buzzer beat in double overtime was Arkansas Little Rock taking down Purdue behind the play of Josh Hagins. Here are the last two minutes of regulation in which Hagins and company took over before taking down Purdue 85-83.
On day 2, we learned that anything can happen. First it was Michigan State falling to Middle Tennessee State 90-81. The Spartans never led in this game, not even for a second. The Blue Raiders jumped out to a 15-2 lead and never looked back. So much for Tom Izzy being a guru come tourney time. You fucking ruined my bracket! 14 seeded Stephen F. Austin did work on West Virginia behind the play of Thomas Walkup. My brother told me to keep an eye on this dude and he sure has performed. He has got the lumberjack look going on as well (That is Stephen F. Austin’s mascot).
Northern Iowa also took down a higher ranked team in Texas after a game winner buzzer beater from half court. UNI is no joke. They produced the likes of Kurt Warner, and, and, don’t know anyone else. The Panthers defeated a North Carolina squad without Marcus Paige earlier in the season, and that turned some heads. UNI has been led by point guard Wes Washpan, but it was teammate Paul Jesperson who stole the show with the game winner.
What else did we learn? You need strong guard play if you want to hoist the trophy. Josh Hagins posted an impressive statline of 31 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals, while Yale’s Makai Mason scored 31 as well and dished out four assists. Take a look at their opponents guards, and it was a different story. Purdue point guard P.J. Thompson scored five points, and dished out just two assists, and Baylor point guard Lester Medford scored just two points, with six assists. That’s just not going to cut it from your point guard in the NCAA tournament. Yogi Ferrell, Tyler Ulis, and Angel Rodriguez all had strong games, and their teams were all victorious.
The ACC is making its case as the premier conference. 7 teams made it to the tourney, and just one is going home after the first round of play. Pittsburgh is the only team not to advance after falling to Wisconsin. North Carolina and Virginia are legit title contenders, while Duke and Miami have aspirations of reaching it to the Final Four, and both Syracuse and Notre Dame have solid chances to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Whoever said the Big12 or the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball is lying to you.