11-seed NC State upset 6-seed San Diego State
The day started off slowly, but with NC State and Norfolk State providing some exciting upsets, March Madness just got bracket-busting good.
Last night, #11 Colorado beat #6 UNLV, and that game, along with #12 VCU over #5 Wichita State, brought out the only upsets from the first day of Madness. It seemed like if this was the year you decided to be bold, your bracket isn’t looking so good.
The day began with #11 Texas facing off with #6 Cincinnati in the East Region. It looked like Cincy was going to have an easy go of it, leading 31-17 at the half. Texas must have heard a great speech in the locker room, because they shot much better in the second and tied the game up 52-52 with 3:30 to go. Despite the comeback, they couldn’t make it happen, and Cincy will move on to play Florida State on Sunday.
Up next, #11 North Carolina State gave #6 San Diego State a run for their money the entire game. SD State had a slight lead in the first, but NC State got back in there and took over the lead before halftime. By the end, the Aztecs ran out of gas and NC State got the one and only upset so far of the day, winning 79-65.
#9 Alabama kept it close with #8 Creighton from the start, and it looked like they might pull off the win. Alabama had a 10-point lead four minutes into the second half, but let it slip away quickly. A Doug McDermott gave the Bluejay a 51-50 lead with just under 6 minutes to go in the game, and it was all birdies for the remainder.
Andrew Steele of the Crimson Tide made a layup to put them within 1 point with about 19 seconds to go. He then fouled Josh Jones, who missed two free throws, giving the Tide a chance for the win with just 9 seconds to go. Creighton had a foul to give, and used it.
Then, much to the confusion of many, coach Anthony Grant called a timeout for Alabama with 2.4 seconds to go. That gave the Tide just seconds to get a shot off, which they did not. Josh Jones thought he was fouled on his final attempt, but the call never came, and the Bluejays got the win, 58-57. McDermott finished off with a double-double, making 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Not an upset, but certainly madness worthy. Creighton will play UNC Sunday.
As for #7 Florida vs. #10 Virginia, this was hardly even a game. Virginia was most certainly a bubble team, and played like one. The Cavaliers showed a little life at the beginning, but once the Gators took the lead with about 6 minutes left in the first half, they just kept going. Florida never slowed up and beat Virginia 71-45, thanks in part to the 14 points and 11 rebounds in the double-double effort from Bradley Beal. The Gators will play Norfolk State on Sunday.
The Bonnies were close, but not close enough.
#14 St. Bonaventure, led by Andrew Nicholson, was oh-so-close to an upset, and led for most of the game over #3 Florida State. The Bonnies led by as many as 10 points in the first, but FSU stopped kidding around and started playing in the second.
A Bernard James dunk by the Seminoles with under 7 minutes to go in the game tied everything up 52-52, and then Florida State kept scoring while St. Bonaventure did not. A 3 from Demitrius Conger (so there is another player on the team aside from Nicholson) put them within 3 points with 30 seconds to go, but the Bonnies couldn’t pull the trigger. The Seminoles survived a scare, 66-63, and will play Cincy on Sunday.
Next up, #3 Georgetown took on #14 Belmont in the Midwest Region. Both teams tend to make early exits as of late, which is more embarrassing for Georgetown than it is for Belmont. However, this wouldn’t be the year that the Belmont Bruins get to go to the second round (they’ve never done it before). Jason Clark’s 21 points helped give the Hoyas a 74-59 win over Belmont. They’ll face NC State on Sunday.
The No. 1 seed in the in the Midwest North Carolina followed Kentucky’s example, rather than Syracuse, and didn’t let #16 Vermont anywhere near a win. Four guys were in double digits, and Tyler Zeller had 17 points and 15 rebounds in the 77 to 58 win. UNC will play Creighton Sunday.
The last game before the break was a doozy, and had people yelling upset throughout. #15 Norfolk State was tied with #2 Missouri 38-38 at halftime, and the two teams traded leads all the way through the second half. A 15-seed hasn’t beaten a 2-seed since 2001, when Hampton (in the same conference as Norfolk State) beat Iowa State (in the same conference as Missouri).
# 15 Norfolk State had the biggest upset over #2 Mizzou
Norfolk State was up 4 points with 3 minutes to go, and Mizzou got nervous and continued to screw up. After a Tigers 4-minute drought, the Spartans went on a 12-2 run. Mizzou got a steal, a 3 and some free throws to tie the game up with under a minute to go.
Norfolk State takes the lead again, and with 10 seconds left a 3 from Phil Pressey but the Tigers down by just 1. But it just wasn’t enough. Missouri had a chance to go for the tie or the win down two with just 7 seconds left after a missed free throw, but couldn’t get the rebound. A jump ball went to Norfolk State, who missed both free throws, giving Mizzou the ball with 2.6 seconds to go and yet another chance. Missouri missed. Game over. Norfolk State gets the 86-84 win over Missouri. My bracket’s busted, but it’s still worth it. This was just the fifth time a 15 has beaten a 2.
Kyle O’Quinn got in on the double-double action with 26 points and 14 rebounds, and that’s a name you’ll hear a lot for the next few days.
Check back to the Neutral Zone for more updates as the Tournament continues!