NCAA Day 1: Winners & losers
Winners and losers from one of the best days in NCAA Tournament history:
Winner: Mid-majors. Mid-majors went 8-4 in the first round of the NCAAs. Against the big boys, mid-majors were 4-1. Think about that. Except for Tennessee’s narrow victory over San Diego State, the only way to get rid of a mid-major Thursday was to make them play each other. Northern Iowa-UNLV. St. Mary’s-Richmond. Butler-UTEP. Head to head against the power leagues, mid-majors shined. Murray State-Vanderbilt. Old Dominion-Notre Dame. BYU-Florida. Ohio-Georgetown.
Loser: Big East.Has a major conference ever had a worse day? Notre Dame loses to Old Dominion. Marquette loses to Washington. Georgetown loses to Ohio U. Villanova needs overtime to beat Robert Morris. One win, three losses, the losses to teams seeded 11, 11 and 15.
Winner: NCAA Tournament magic. 2009 was a dud. Thursday packed more drama into 12 hours than in all three weeks of March Madness a year ago. Of the 16 games played, three went overtime and one of those was double overtime. Three other games were won by shots in the final five seconds. Another game was decided by one point when a heavy favorite (Notre Dame) missed a game-tying 3-pointer in the final five seconds, a shot that rolled around and down in the rim before falling out. That’s seven fantastic finishes, and that’s not including three other games (Tennessee, Baylor, New Mexico) in which the favorite was in trouble late and one other game in which a heavy underdog (Ohio) blew out a big favorite. What a day.
Loser: SEC. By mid-afternoon, the Southeastern Conference was down to two teams. Before sundown, Florida lost to Brigham Young and Vanderbilt lost to Murray State. So Kentucky and Tennessee are the SEC’s last bastions.
Winner: Pac-10. Trashed all year, the Pac-10 placed only two teams in the NCAA field. Only Washington played Thursday. The Huskies made the most of it, upsetting Marquette.
Loser: Big 12. With the Big East’s crash, the Big 12 stood poised to have a glorious first round. Kansas State, Baylor and Kansas won Thursday afternoon. Then Texas made up a big deficit and led by eight points late in overtime against Wake Forest. The Longhorns lost 81-80. Now Missouri and Oklahoma State play tossup games, and Texas A&M doesn’t have a pushover with Utah State. The Big 12 stands poised to crash itself.
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