Catching up with the Madness

A breakdown of the first day of March Madness


Tommy Yarrish

Image created via Adobe Spark Post

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for college basketball fans. The NCAA March Madness tournament kicked off March 21 with 16 teams of 32 moved on to Round 2. Couldn’t catch any games? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered every day with what you need to know in this already unforgettable tournament.

Top Moments

Ja Morant continues to improve his draft stock as he leads #12 Murray State to an upset victory over #5 Marquette

Ja Morant, a projected top five pick for the upcoming NBA draft, put on a show in the first round as dropped a triple double on Marquette in a 83-64 blowout victory.

Morant had 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds in the win, the first triple double in the NCAA tournament since Michigan State forward and now Golden State Warriors star Draymond green did it in 2012. He only missed four shots from the field, and his highlight of the night was the cold blooded step back three with time expiring in the first half to grow the lead to 7.

Aside from Morant, guards Tevin Brown and Shaq Buchanan added 19 and 14 points respectively, as well as forward KJ Williams helping out with 16 points and four rebounds.

For Marquette, NBA prospect and Big East player of the year Markus Howard did everything he could to try to push his Golden Eagles over the Racers. He dropped 26 points, but wasn’t able to knock many shots down as he shot 9 for 27 from the field. Forward Sam Hauser’s night was similar to Howards, as he had a 16 point 10 rebound double-double, but shot 6-17 from the field.

Morant and the Racers will face off against #4 Florida State in the round of 32, the Seminoles coming off a 76-69 win over #13 Vermont.

Maryland, Villanova hang on in near upsets

Both Maryland and Villanova were able to crawl their way out of the first round, with #6 Maryland clutching on to a 79-77 win over #11 Belmont, and Villanova edged out a 61-57 win over #11 Saint Mary’s.

Maryland was able to climb out of what was a 12 point deficit at one point, as well as Belmont guard Dylan Windler’s 35 point shooting spree with Jalen Smith and Darryl Morsel coming up big for the Terps.

Jalen Smith, who led the team with 19 points, was able to change the momentum of the game with an emphatic and-one dunk of a Morsel assist late in the game to put the Terps up by four.

But that wasn’t Morsel’s only play of the night. He picked up what would be the game winning steal with under a minute left on an attempted inside pass to seal the deal for Maryland. With the win, the Terps will face off against #3 LSU, who defeated #14 Yale 79-74 earlier in the day.

Defending champions Villanova also had a scare Thursday night, as they held on to a 61-57 win over #11 Saint Mary. Backed by Phil Booth’s 20 points, Nova was able to fend off Saint Mary’s in the final minutes thanks to missed free throws and missed desperation three pointers.

Villanova will take on #3 Purdue with the Boilers knocking off Old Dominion 61-48 later in the night over.

Auburn dodges bullet in win over New Mexico State

#5 Auburn barely took the 78-77 win over New Mexico State, and I say barely because New Mexico State could have easily tied the game.

With six seconds left in the game, New Mexico guard A.J. Harris had a chance to tie the game up at 78 with an easy layup, but instead decided to kick it out to Terrell Brown, who was fouled as he shot what could’ve been the game winning three and headed to the line. But Brown missed two of the three free throws, and Auburn secured the win.

The Tigers advance to take on #4 Kansas in what should be a close game, with Kansas coming off a 25 point victory over #13 Northeastern.

No Brainers: Gonzaga, Michigan State, Kentucky, Michigan all advance with ease

While March Madness can be full of upsets, there weren’t any big name teams being eliminated, at least in the first round.

#1 seed Gonzaga cruised to a 87-49 win over #16 Fairleigh Dickinson and will face off against #9 Baylor who defeated Syracuse 78-69 in a back-and-forth game.

#2 seed Michigan State took down #15 Bradley 76-65, but head coach Tom Izzo was livid during a 10-0 Spartan run, exploding on Aaron Henry despite the win. The Spartans will take on #10 Minnesota, who upset #7 Louisville 86-76 earlier in the day.

The other #2 seed with a big victory was Kentucky, who took care of business against Abilene Christian 77-49, continuing with their history of success in the tournament. They’ll be taken on by Wofford, who absolutely lit it up from the three point line against Seton Hall, knocking down 13 shots from beyond the arch. 7 of the Terrier’s threes came from guard Fletcher Magee, who finished the game with 24 points.  

Third and final #2 seed to advance was Michigan, who defeated #15 Montana 74-55, despite Montana’s undying effort. The Wolverines are heading into a second round challenge against #10 Florida, who pulled off the upset against #7 Nevada.

Games to watch on Day 2:

#1 Duke vs #16 North Dakota State

#1 North Carolina vs #16 Iona

#8 VCU vs #9 UCF

#5 Wisconsin vs #12 Oregon

#8 Utah State vs #9 Washington