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Friday, March 22, 2013

NCAA Madness, Day 1 Recap

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NCAA Madness, Day 1 Recap
By Wild on Sports Analyst Travis David 
@Tdavid_21 @WildOnSports

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few may want to send a big thank you to Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. Few and his Gonzaga team narrowly escaped being on the wrong side of NCAA tournament history, as the West Region No. 1 seeded Zags came away with a 64-58 win over No. 16 seed Southern.
Before the final buzzer sounded Twitter feeds were blowing up stating how the game confirmed the Zags did not deserve a No. 1 seed. Ten hours later there was a new trending topic on the social media site and sports shows across the land: No. 14 Harvard knocked-off third-seeded New Mexico 68-62.
At the end of the day the only thing matters to teams is that they survived and advanced. Gonzaga accomplished what the Lobos and three other higher seeds could not do on Thursday.
The trio of other higher seeds to be sent home packing was No. 5 seeds Oklahoma State and UNLV and No. 8 seed Pittsburgh.
Thursday provided plenty of excitement aside from the previously mentioned games. Let’s take a closer look:

Best Finish of the Day
Long before the Harvard upset there was almost another No. 14 seed to advance to the round of 32. Vander Blue was able to make a dash to the hoop for a game-winning lay-up with 1 second left to complete a furious comeback for No. 3 Marquette over No. 14 Davidson, 59-58.
The Golden Eagles outscored Davidson 13-5 over the final 90 seconds.
Blue’s shot was the first game-winning bucket in the final 10 seconds in an NCAA tournament game since 2011. Players had missed the previous 22 game-winning attempts in the final 10 seconds of games.

Most Impressive Teams
There is certainly no style points awarded this time of the year, but Louisville showed how No. 1 seeds should dispose of No. 16 teams. The overall No. 1 seed cruised to a 79-48 win over North Carolina A&T. In the game the Cardinals set an NCAA tournament record for 20 steals, while Russ Smith tied a tournament record for 8 swipes.
No. 4 Syracuse rolled to an 81-34 over No. 13 Montana. The 47-point victory was the largest in tournament history by a team that was not a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
The impressive win by the Orange came two hours after No. 5 VCU laid claim to the record in its 46-point win over No. 12 Akron.

Best Conference Finish

The Pac-12 was criticized for having just the worse collective RPI of the power six conferences. But that did not stop No. 6 Arizona and No. 12 seeds Oregon and California to pick up win on Thursday.
The Ducks and Wildcats picked up double digit win over Oklahoma State and respectively while Cal knocked off UNLV by a trey.

Wrong Statement Made
The Big Ten received all the accolades throughout the regular season, but the Mountain West was actually the conference with the best conference RPI. So much for putting stock into the RPI system. With five teams selected to the field of 68 only No. 8 seed Colorado State remains. Besides No. 3 New Mexico being bounced on Thursday, No. 5 UNLV and No. 13 San Diego State both took one on the chin. Boise State was the fifth MW team selected but lost in a play-in game.

Top Players
Vander Blue may have had the biggest bucket of the day, but the best performance of the day may have been turned in by Malcolm Nix. The Michigan State big dominated the paint and scored a game-high 23 points and a career-high 15 boards in the 65-54 win for the No. 3 Spartans over No. 14 Valparaiso.
Louisville’s Russ Smith 23 points and NCAA record-tying eight steals was also impressive as was Kelly Olynyk’s 21 points in Gonzaga’s win.

Tournament Tidbits
The Harvard upset of No. 3 New Mexico was the team’s first NCAA tournament win…With a 68-56 win over No. 11 Bucknell, No. 6 Butler now has 11 tournament wins since 2010 which is second to Kentucky’s 13 wins…No. 4 Saint Louis record a 20-point win over New Mexico State, which was its largest tournament win. SLU’s previous high margin of victory was seven points…No. 12 Oregon’s win over No. 5 Oklahoma State marked the first time the Ducks won a NCAA tournament game as the lower seed…The Atlantic-10 Conference is 4-0...A 12-seed has now beaten a 5-seed 12 of the last 13 years…Southern’s six-point loss to Louisville marked just the fifth time in the last 20 years a No. 16 seed lost by single digits to a No. 1 seed…No. 14 seed Davidson entered the tournament leading the nation in free throw percentage (80.1%) but finished just 14-22 (63.6%) in its 59-58 heart-breaking loss to No. 3 Marquette.

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