It started at Noon and by the time San Diego State survived an overtime thriller with New Mexico State my clock was closing in on 2 AM. One of the most anticipated days on the sports calendar was a wild and crazy ride, you might call it Madness but be careful not to put a March in front of it or the NCAA militia may take possession of your home.
Day 1 at the Dance (sorry, don’t think we can call it that) was spectacular, four of the sixteen games couldn’t be decided in 40 minutes. It’s the first time in tournament history that we’ve had 4 overtime games in the same day. Sure, it would be nice to have a Maryland team or two to cheer for, but if you’re a college basketball fan the student-athletes provided over 13 hours of delicious hoops eye-candy. Here are some observations from one couch.
Big Men on Campus– The Dayton Flyers, it’s about 75 miles from Dayton to Thee Ohio State campus, but Buckeyes would tell you it’s light years away. Not on Thursday, the Flyers downed Ohio State 60-59. Best finish of the day with 15 lead changes and 4 in the last minute. They’re dancing in Dayton.
Big Man on Campus– New Mexico State nearly upset 4-seed San Diego State taking the Aztecs to overtime. That big man in the middle for New Mexico State was Sam Bhullar, last time we checked (before lunch) Sam was 7-5, 355 and wearing a size 21 shoes. New Mexico State has also recruited his “little brother” he’s only 7-3.
Big Game– Nobody was better than Michigan State’s Seth Payne who dropped 41 on Delaware, the first 40-point performance in the tournament since Stephen Curry did it for Davidson in 2008. Payne’s line: 10-for-15 from the field, 4-for-5 from 3-point and a tournament-record 17-for-17 from the free throw line.
Mr. Big Shot– The award goes to Texas Longhorn Cameron Ridley. There were 4 over-time games but only 1 buzzer-beater, the big man (6-9,285) with the soft hands grabbed a loose-ball rebound and just beat the buzzer as Texas beat Arizona State 87-85. It was the first basket with no time left to win a tournament game since Butler’s Matt Howard beat Old Dominion in 2011.
Big Half– Pitt the 9- seed didn’t waste any time against 8-seed Colorado. The Panthers blew out to a 46-18 halftime win and coasted. American was tied with 2-seed Wisconsin with under 4-minutes left in the first half, but from there the Badgers out-scored American 55-15 (43-13 2nd half).
Big Deal– Louisville coach Rick Pitino whining because the selection committee (he called them soccer AD’s) had him playing his former ball boy. Ole Slick Rick survived but his defending champs were down 3 with under 4-minutes left before downing Manhattan 71-64. Damn!
n-ICE Win- Villanova started the game 0 for 16 from 3 (finished 3-24) and won! The 2nd seeded Wildcats downed Milwaukee by 20 but will need better aim when they meet UConn next.
Best Pick– Harvard over Cincinnati. We know that a 12 always beat a 5 in the tournament. The smart money had the smart guys from Harvard.
Best Video– Nothing says agony of defeat like March. No radio description or award-winning writer could do justice to the picture of the Arizona State bench as Texas’s buzzer beater shot ended their dreams. Lifeless bodies collapsed to the court at varying angles told their basketball tragedy.