It's that wonderful time of the sports year. A time where grown men and women put all their time and energy in filling out brackets, only to just throw them out the next day. Well sorry to disappoint those people but just because you can't pick a good bracket doesn't mean the tournament is going to stop.
There were 16 games played the first day of the tournament to 'cut down' and see who will move on to the second round this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. Things kicked off with a bang as people tuned in to multiple TV stations, brackets in hands.
In the Midwest Region, (3) Michigan State took care of business against (14) Valparaiso 65-54 to start things off. Then you had the (4) St. Louis Billikens, the new tournament 'sweetheart' thrash (13) New Mexico State 64-44 while (6) Memphis Tigers just barely outlasted (11) St. Mary's Gaels 56-54. The 'upset' of the region was (12) Oregon Ducks taking down the (5) Oklahoma State University Cowboys 68-55, though many picked Oregon to win this game anyways. One game that everybody knew who was going to win was (1) Louisville Cardinals as they thrashed (16) North Carolina A & T Aggies and to top of the region for the day was (8) Colorado State Rams winning against the (9) Missouri Tigers 84-72.
Out in the West Region, we had the tournament's first bracket buster. So ladies and gentlemen, you can thank (14) Harvard Crimson for ruining your brackets with their 68-62 upset win over (3) New Mexico Lobos. Not to mention that if you picked (1) Gonzaga Bulldogs to make some noise, you might be kicking yourself as they squeaked by (16) Southern Jaguars 64-58. It'll get tougher for 'Zaga in the later rounds when they face even tougher competition. But if you picked (6) Arizona Wildcats over (11) Belmont Bruins you were rewarded with a 81-64 blowout. And finally, (9) Wichita State Shockers put a shocking 73-55 beat down on (8) Pittsburgh Panthers with some stout defense that teams will start to take notice of.
Down in the South Region there were only two games for the region today. First (4) Michigan Wolverines looked like the old 'Fab 5' 91/92 squads as they took out (13) South Dakota State Jackrabbits 71-56, making one 990WBOB personality very happy. The other game pitted (12) Akron Zips against (5) Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Rams, who were looking to have repeat success of making the Final Four like they did back during the 2010-2011 season. VCU did not just win, they flat out dominated their 'Zippie' opponent 88-42.
Finally, we wrap things up back home in the East Region as (6) Butler Bulldogs were able to pull away from the (11) Bucknell Bison late in the 2nd half for a 68-56 victory. (3) Marquette Golden Eagles and (14) Davidson Wildcats gave us a wild finish right to the buzzer as the Golden Eagles pulled away 59-58 on a game-winning layup by Junior Guard Vander Blue with 1.1 seconds remaining on the clock. But where Davidson failed, (12) California Golden Bears succeeded in delivering a bracket-buster upset victory over the (5) UNLV Runnin' Rebels 64-61. And the final match for the day was (4) Syracuse Orange delivering an anti-climatic knockout blow to (13) Montana Grizzlies 81-34, the 47-point differential being the highest of the day.
So with one day down, there is still plenty of basketball left to be played and more brackets to be busted. Who knows, maybe we could see a #16 seed defeat a #1 seed or more higher level seeds get knocked off by lower seeded teams. Either way, the madness will continue on.
-Ryan L. Fox
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