NCAA Tournament: Day 1 Wrap-Up


The first full day of the NCAA Tournament is officially in the books. We saw multiple blowouts, a couple nail-biters and two upsets as 11-seeded Colorado and 12-seeded VCU are one victory away from the Sweet Sixteen after opening-day upsets. Day one featured mixed results, literally: eight teams won by double-digits while the other eight contests were decided by less than ten points. VCU holding off Wichita State along with UNC Asheville challenging 1-seeded Syracuse provided the day’s greatest entertainment. In the day’s night-cap, Colorado held on to a 68-64 win for their first NCAA Tourney victory in 15 years. The Buffaloes led UNLV by as many as 20 before the Rebels cut it to two late in the game.

Game of the day: Virginia Commonwealth defeating Wichita state 62-59. The Rams led by as many as 16 in the second half before the Shockers stormed back to make it a back-and-forth affair in the final seconds. The teams’ traded three-pointers down the stretch and a Garrett Stulz potential game-tying three pointer rimmed out to give VCU the day’s first lower-seeded victory. Other(s): UNC-Asheville vs. Syracuse, UNLV vs. Colorado.

Most Impressive: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin. The All-American point-guard scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and committed no turnovers in the Badgers 73-49 rout of 14-seeded Montana. Wisconsin’s #1 ranked scoring defense held Montana, a team riding a 14-game winning streak, to 38 percent shooting while out-rebounding the undersized Grizzlies by 13. Other(s): Marquette defeating BYU 88-68, Gonzaga defeating West Virginia 77-54.

Impressive in defeat: 16-seeded UNC Asheville led 1-seeded Syracuse at halftime and played impressive, team-basketball for all 40 minutes. After Syracuse recaptured the lead, UNC Asheville kept it close down the stretch but their bid to become the first 16-seed to advance to the round of 32 fell just short. The Bulldogs got within three points three times in the final minutes but the Orange hit their free-throws along with a little help from the referees. Other(s): Harvard, South Dakota State, UNLV (20-point comeback fell just short down the stretch).

Reason for concern: Syracuse is not a very good team without Fab Melo. We saw evidence of that earlier in the regular season and we saw even more evidence of that today. Melo might be the most valuable player in country – most valuable, not the most talented or best – as he means so much to Syracuse’s success on both sides of the floor. They are just a different team without him and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were sitting at home in the near future. Other(s): Baylor’s Perry Jones shot 1-of-6 from the floor and only scored 2 points in their 68-60 first-round victory over South Dakota State.

Biggest let-down: Referees in UNC Asheville/Syracuse. There were three questionable calls in favor of Syracuse that I briefly talked about earlier in the day. The non-goaltend in the first half was a blown call. After drawing a foul, a UNC Asheville player threw a shot up that was blocked by Syracuse, denying a three-point play. Only problem is the ball had already made contact with the backboard when the Syracuse player “blocked” the lay-up. It should have been two points and a free-throw for Bulldogs. The lane-violation late in the game was the correct call although I question its use in the final seconds of a close game. But I won’t argue it because it was technically the correct call by the rule book. The call that has to really bother UNC Asheville players, coaches and fans is the missed call on the loose ball that clearly went off the Orange. It wasn’t even close. UNC Asheville was trailing by three and would’ve had possession with less than a minute remaining. Instead, the referees made another horrible mistake and wrongly awarded possession to Syracuse which allowed them to hit late free-throws to seal the victory. Other(s): Highly-touted Casper Ware shot 5-of-19 from the field in Long Beach State’s 75-68 loss to New Mexico.

Looking ahead (Friday): Texas vs. Cincinnati, North Carolina State vs. San Diego State, Alabama vs. Creighton, Virginia vs. Florida, St. Bonaventure vs. Florida State, Belmont vs. Georgetown, Vermont vs. North Carolina, Norfolk State vs. Missouri, Saint Louis vs. Memphis, Lehigh vs. Duke, Ohio vs. Michigan, Purdue vs. Saint Mary’s, LIU Brooklyn vs. Michigan State, Xavier vs. Notre Dame, South Florida vs. Temple, Detroit vs. Kansas.