Upset of the Day: No doubt, Harvard’s win over #3-seeded New Mexico. It was the Crimson’s first win ever in the NCAA tourney and came after their co-captains and best players were dismissed from school prior to the season.
Game of the Day: Marquette’s unbelievable one-point comeback win over Davidson. The Golden Eagles made three three-pointers in the final 1:02 and won the game on a lay-up with one second left after a Davidson turnover.
Performance of the Day: Louisville’s Russ Smith scored 23 points and grabbed eight steals in 25 minutes of play in Louisville’s easy win.
Best Conference Performance: The Atlantic 10 is 4-0 (La Salle, Butler, Saint Louis and VCU wins) and the Pac-12 is 3-0 (Oregon and Cal win as #12-seeds and Arizona). Temple plays tomorrow for the A-10 and the Pac-12 has UCLA and Colorado playing.
Worst Conference Performance: The Mountain West was rated as the #1 conference in the RPI. That index needs to be re-calibrated or something. After attending the conference tournament it was apparent that the conference was nowhere near the top in the nation. The MWC is 1-3 including the loss of their conference champions, New Mexico, to Ivy League’s Harvard.
Michigan State was just too big and strong for Valparaiso. The Spartans had the rebounding edge 49-23 including 20 offensive boards on their 32 missed shots. Derrick Nix dominated with 23 points and 14 rebounds…..Butler survived a second half Bucknell comeback to outlast the Bison 68-56. Andrew Smith played aggressive defense on Mike Muscala and limited Bucknell’s star to 4-of-17 shooting. Smith scored 14 points and grabbed 16 boards as Butler survived missing their first 13 three-pointers….Saint Louis took the Atlantic 10 to 3-0 in the tournament with an easy 64-44 win over a surprisingly highly seeded (#13) WAC champion New Mexico State. The Billikens held the Aggies to 28% shooting as All-A10 performer Dwayne Evans led the way with 24 points…..Pittsburgh also had trouble shooting, hitting only 1-of-17 three-pointers as Wichita State cruised to a 73-55 win. Oregon transfer Malcolm Armstead scored 22 points for the Shockers…..Memphis survived a late breakdown to nip St. Mary’s 54-52. The Gaels hit a late three-pointer then came up with a turnover on the in-bounds play to get a last chance with two seconds left. Matthew Dellavedova missed a contested three from the corner and the Tigers escaped with the win. Dellavedova was held to 3-of-13 shooting…..Marquette made a miraculous comeback with three three-pointers in the last minute (two by Jamal Wilson, one by Vander Blue). After Davidson threw the ball away with 5.3 seconds left, Blue scored on a lay-up with one second left to give the #3-seeded Golden Eagles a 59-58 win….
#16-seeded Southern University gave #1-seeded Gonzaga all they could handle in the Zags 64-58 win. The game was tied late at 56 when Gonzaga’s Gary Bell Jr. hit a three-pointer to give the Zags the lead. It was the closest 16 vs. 1 seed game since 1997. Kelly Olynyk scored 18 second-half points en route to a 21 point, 10 rebound performance. Kevin Pangos added 16 for the Zags…..Sometimes you wonder what the selection committee was thinking, and we thought that when they gave Oregon a #12-seed. Clearly the committee huddles in a conference room, looks at game results and numbers but few of them have actually seen many teams play. There’s something to an “eye test” in evaluation. We don’t scout players looking at their stats. We actually go to games and watch them play. Maybe the selection committee should have someone doing that. Anyway, #12-seeded Oregon had no problem with #5-seeded Oklahoma State in an easy 68-55 win. Arsalan Kazemi has a double-double by halftime and finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Ducks. Oregon defended Marcus Smart (14 points on 5-of-13 shooting) well and forced him into five turnovers. Oregon out-rebounded Oklahoma State 44-32…..
Louisville led off the night sessions and perhaps after seeing what happened to Gonzaga they took no chances. Employing tough on-ball, trapping defense the Cardinals came up with 20 steals and made it very difficult for North Carolina A&T to set up their offense as they won going away 79-48. Russ Smith (23 points) and Peyton Siva combined for 12 steals in the easy win…..We were looking forward to the point guard match-up between Michigan’s Trey Burke and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters but both had off nights. Burke (6 points on 2-for-12 shooting) needed 21 points each from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III for Michigan to pull away in the 71-56 win. 6’10 Mitch McGary received his third start of the year and came through with 13 points and nine rebounds. Wolters was limited to ten points on 3-of-14 shooting….Arizona used their size disparity to take charge of the boards by a 46-20 margin in an easy 81-64 win over Belmont. Mark Lyons led the Wildcats with 23 points as Arizona shot 57% from the field including 9-of-17 from long distance….Another #5 seed went down in San Jose as #12-seed Cal topped UNLV 64-61, holding off a late Rebel rally. We saw UNLV play in the MWC final and were surprised they were given a 5 seed. Their offense relies too much on long three-point attempts while their best player, Anthony Bennett, works hard inside to get the ball but rarely sees it. Today the shooters, Katin Reinhardt and Bryce Dejean-Jones combined for 29 shots while Bennett struggled to get 10, many of them late. Allen Crabbe led Cal with 19 points as the Bears received strong play off the bench from Robert Thurman (12 points). The Pac-12 is now 3-0 in the tournament….The VCU Rams took the A-10 to 4-0 in the tournament with the most lopsided tourney win in memory, 88-42 over Akron. VCU’s Havoc defense forced the Zips into 21 turnovers. Troy Daniels hit 6-of-11 three-pointers in scoring 23 points for the Rams. VCU will face Michigan on Saturday in an interesting match-up….Colorado State gave the Mountain West Conference its first win and their first NCAA win in 24 years as they topped Missouri 84-72. The Rams enjoyed a huge 42-19 rebounding margin. Dorian Green led Colorado State with 26 points while Colton Iverson grabbed 13 rebounds…..Harvard pulled off the biggest upset of the day and won their first NCAA Tournament game ever as they beat Mountain West Conference champion New Mexico 68-62. The Crimson used the shot clock to their advantage, made eight three-pointers and battled inside against the much bigger Lobos. Wesley Saunders led the Crimson with 18 points and Laurent Rivard (17 points) hit five three-pointers. New Mexico’s bigs, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow combined for 37 points and 21 rebounds but received no help outside. MWC Player of the Year Kendall Williams (8 points on 1-of-6 shooting) and Tony Snell (9 points on 1-of-6 three’s) both had off nights……In another romp Syracuse closed the day out with an 81-34 (that’s right) win over Montana. Syracuse shot 53% from the floor and held Montana to 20.4% shooting, including 4-of-31 on three-pointers.