NCAA Tournament Round Of 64: Favorites Prevail In Early Games
Double-digit seeds who were expected to go deep in the tournament exited early, while a pair of teams from outside the power-six conferences will continue to carry the banner for non BCS schools into the Round of 32. Here is a recap of what transpired during the first half of Thursday's tournament action.
History almost made
The Orange will be without sophomore center Fab Melo for the tournament due to eligibility issues, but a squad this deep shouldn't need help from shoddy officiating to dispatch 16-seeded UNC-Asheville.
With Syracuse up three, a questionable out-of-bounds call that went against UNC-Asheville gave the ball back to the Orange and eventually led to two Scoop Jardine free throws. Jardine drained both shots to put the Orange up, 68-63, with 34 seconds left to kill any hope the Bulldogs had at that point.
Orange forward James Southerland had 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench, and nailed a jumper to give Syracuse a 56-54 lead it never surrendered. That field goal triggered the start of an 8-0 run, during which Southerland had five points, a rebound and a steal to help Syracuse avoid humiliation.
No 12-over-5 upsets here
The 12-seed upset is a trendy pick every March, and Long Beach State, with its battle-tested seniors, was predicted by many analysts to make a Sweet 16 run.
But Mountain West tournament champion New Mexico showed just enough mettle to put away the 49ers, who played the toughest non-conference schedule this season. Lobos guard Kendall Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to pace four New Mexico players in double-figures in the 75-68 win.
Another 12-seed in Harvard was primed to pull an upset in its nerd bowl game against Vanderbilt, but the alma mater of Jeremy Lin allowed the Commodores to shoot 54 percent from the field and net 21 points from the free throw line in a 79-70 Vanderbilt victory.
No. 6-seeded Murray State cruised to a 58-41 win over Colorado State in its first-round game. Racers star guard Isaiah Canaan did not turn in his best offensive performance, shooting 4-of-13 to score 15 points, but Murray State will live to play another day after holding the Rams to just 33 percent shooting.
Stay Classy, Southern Miss
School bands, just like the colorful mascots, fans and cheerleaders, are part of what make March Madness the annual spectacle that it is. But there was a moment late in the first half that members of Southern Mississippi's band probably regret.
As guard Angel Rodriguez stepped to the foul line, a few band members spouted chants of "where's your green card?" that could be picked up on live TV. Since Rodriguez was born in the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico, he's technically an American citizen, meaning no green card is needed.
If only those hecklers had put as much effort into studying U.S. citizenship laws as they did in coming up with that chant. But they'll have plenty of time after K-State sent the Golden Eagles home with a 70-64 defeat.
Jae Crowder (Marquette, forward): The senior battered Brigham Young for 28 points and snagged 16 rebounds as Marquette brushed aside the overmatched Cougars to punch a ticket into the Round of 32.
Drew Gordon (New Mexico, forward): The UCLA transfer scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and pulled down 13 boards to stave off a game 49ers squad.
Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin, guard): The Badgers senior turned in 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists as No. 4-seeded Wisconsin cruised to a 74-49 victory over 13-seeded Montana.
John Jenkins (Vanderbilt, guard): Jenkins dropped 27 points and went 10-for-13 from the line to go with six rebounds in the Commodores' win over Harvard.
(4) Louisville 69, (13) Davidson 62
Davidson was an ice-cold 4-of-19 from three-point range and shot just 35 percent from the field, but credit that to a Louisville defense coming off a Big East tournament win where it held Cincinnati to just 44 points.
(4) Wisconsin 73, (13) Montana 49
Some see the Badgers' defensive-oriented style as the type that could take the madness out of March, but they certainly didn't show it in this first-round affair. Wisconsin fired 10-of-19 from three-point range, but still locked in on the defensive end, holding the Grizzlies to 38 percent shooting.
(3) Marquette 88, (14) Brigham Young 68
BYU came back from 25 points down to knock out Iona in Tuesday's First Four game, but the ghost of Jimmer Fredette was nowhere to be found in this lopsided matchup. Marquette led by as many as 19 points in the first half, out-rebounded the Cougars 48-32 (16 on the offensive end) and scored 18 second-chance points in the game.