• February 28, 2024

Winners, losers from the men’s NCAA Tournament first round

The first true day of March Madness has returned after a two year hiatus, and the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament is undoubtedly delivering the excitement associated with his nickname.

Whether it’s an overtime thriller Florida outlasts Virginia Tech in the first game of the day or Oral Roberts No. 15 Seeds Stunning No. 2 Ohio State The madness is back in full swing in OT as we wait for more bracket busting.

No. 1 seed Illinois and Baylor looked like national title contenders against inferior opponents, while Texas Tech looked like a Final Four Dark Horse and No. 12 seed Oregon State continued their triumphant advance in a surprise about No. 5 Tennessee. Here’s a look at some key takeaways from the first leg of Friday’s games:

BRACKETS:What are your picks like?


Oklahoma State. It wasn’t the best game of Cade Cunningham’s # 1 NBA draft picks, but the Cowboys did enough together to oust Liberty’s angry offer in a 69:60 win. Cunningham finished 3v14 with 15 points but made free throws and a dagger tree pointer in the final minutes. Anthony Anderson III went up and down with 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals.

Loyola Chicago. The number 8 (25-4) Ramblers took advantage of Moses Wright, Georgia Tech’s # 9 best player, who was out due to COVID-19. Loyola-Chicago deployed an even effort, driven by Lucas Williamson’s 21 points, to dispatch the yellow jackets. Loyola is no longer considered a Cinderella considering what coach Porter Moser did to get that program into the Final Four in 2018. Plus, the Ramblers lead the nation in defense this season.

Baylor. The Bears (23-2) stormed past Hartford 79-55 to claim the first-round win that would be expected given Baylor’s hard-earned number one this year as the second-best team in the tournament behind Gonzaga. MaCio Teague paved the way with 22 points, and coach Scott Drew has three of the best guards of the entire tournament in Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and Teague.

Illinois. The number 1 in the Midwest, Illinois region was playing their best brand of basketball when they handily shipped Drexel 78-49. Ayo Dosunmu, USA TODAY Sports National Player of the Year, went up and down with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists on the Fighting Umgebung (24-6). Coach Brad Underwood has this team at its peak at just the right time, with Illinois now winning 15 out of 16.

MORE: Why Ayo Dosunmu wears a mask

Florida. The number 7 Gators trailed by six at halftime and then failed to postpone the game as number 10 Virginia Tech forced overtime. However, coach Mike White’s team retained their composure to win 75-70 in overtime and advance to the second round. Tre Mann’s 3-pointer, 25 seconds ahead, sealed the win, while Colin Castleton’s 19 points fueled the win for UF.

The entire First Four on Thursday. While Drake’s 53-52 victory over Wichita State and UCLA’s 86-80 win over Michigan State created early excitement between two No. 11 seeds in play-in games, even the matchups between No. 16 seeds were exciting, with Texas being Southern Mount St. Mary’s 60-52 and defeated Appalachian State Rand Norfolk State 54-53. This resulted in a tie for the next score – 16 points – in the first four.


Ohio State Buckeyes Guardian Duane Washington Jr. (4) reacts to losing to Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament overtime.

Ohio State. The Buckeyes (21-10) were once considered for a # 1 seed in Bracketology, and oh how would they have preferred a # 16 seed on Friday when they became the best seed to drop Oral Roberts staged a Cinderella run against them. EJ Liddell played his heart out and ended with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but this game was meant to go the way of the golden eagles. The OSU was a national title contender, and the runner-up, title-eligible national team hasn’t lost that much since the state of Michigan in 2016, when the state of Middle Tennessee played as a spoiler.

North Carolina. The Tar Heels (18-11) were wiped out by Wisconsin 85-62 in a No. 8 versus No. 9 seed battle in which they preferred to tie Baylor in the second round. They were never close to a Big Ten team that was down after losing seven out of ten. It’s been a bad year for Blue-Bloods as Duke and Kentucky both missed the NCAAs. Now UNC is going home after just one game.

Tennessee. The volunteers (18-9) fell victim to a fiery Oregon State team After surprisingly winning the Pac-12 tournament for the league’s automatic bid, it hardly looked like part of the No. 12. As much as this result was about the beavers thriving, it was also about getting Tennessee completely cold. The volunteers only scored 56 points and shot 19% out of the 3-point range.

The NCAA. Six officers were sent home on Monday for leaving the hotel grounds to have dinner. This was a clearly defined no-no under the pandemic restrictions set by the NCAA. Photos of the discrepancy between weight rooms for men and women and pouch bags surfaced Thursday. After significant setbacks, the NCAA did issued a statement acknowledging the differences in amenities in Indianapolis, where the men’s tournament is held, and in San Antonio, where the women’s tournament is held.

It got worse on Friday. UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma told reporters that his team is receiving a different COVID-19 test than the men’s team. NCAA President Mark Emmert confirmed that the men’s teams will receive daily PCR tests while the women’s teams will receive antigen tests. Emmert told USA TODAY Sports, The Athletic, and The New York Times have no different risks from either testalthough antigen tests are described by the FDA as having a quick turnaround time for results, but “a higher chance of missing an active infection”.

Colgate. The Raiders with the 14 seeds (14-2) were surpassed by No. 3 ArkansasHe failed to create a big surprise and give the NCAA tournament its first real Cinderella in two years. The 85-68 score doesn’t show how close Colgate was to it, however. In the first half he led by 14 points, while top scorer Jordan Burns (13 points in the second half) was goalless. Arkansas coach Eric Musselman cleverly kept his more athletic team in pressure mode to change the pace when Colgate started pulling back on hot shooting. Justin Smith’s 29 points and 13 rebounds have not harmed the Razorbacks cause either.

Utah State. The Aggies with the starting number 11 (20-8), who barely pushed their way into the field of the 68ers as a command of the bubble from the mountain west, gave Texas Tech everything they could handle early on, but ultimately couldn’t make it upset as a trainer Chris Beard has a defensive team too disciplined. USU fell 65-53, which was mainly due to 17% (4: 19) from three-point distance and 22 sales.

Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ ScottMGleeson.


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