It was UMBC’s historic upset of Virginia that capped a historic Day two of the 2018 NCAA Tournament as they become the first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed.
For a good portion of Day Two of the NCAA Tournament, it appeared that the day would be pretty boring with most of the favorites winning. But, that is when the madness of March tends to sneak up on you and it did Friday night when the American East champs, the UMBC Retrievers, shocked the nation as a 16 seed with their 74-54 blowout win over top seed Virginia.
The Retrievers became the first 16 seed to ever beat a number one seed and they become the ultimate cinderellas of the tournament. In fact, three double-digit seeds are left in the South region and there’s a chance America could see a UMBC-Buffalo Sweet 16.
Overall, the Big East had split results on Friday as the four teams in action went 2-2. It was no surprise that the top seed in the West, Xavier, won their game over Texas Southern easily (102-83). Butler got out to a 21-2 lead early and did not look back in their 79-62 win over Arkansas.
However, Marcus Foster only had five points in Creighton’s 69-59 loss to Kansas State and Providence could not complete their comeback in a 73-69 loss to Texas A&M.
Some of the top seeds did have some trouble in their games, but unlike Virginia, they found a way to win. For example, Michigan State had a tough time with Zach Thomas and Bucknell early, but Miles Bridges took over in the second half as the three seed in the Midwest won 82-78. They will face Syracuse on Sunday as Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo square off as coaches once again.
So, before the second round gets underway this afternoon when (1) Villanova takes on (9) Alabama in the East region (12:10 p.m ET, CBS), here are my takeaways from Friday’s first-round games:
Retrievers Pull Off The Impossible
Back on January 21, UMBC was on the wrong end of an 83-39 blowout against Albany in America East play. Nearly two months later, they are in the national spotlight after their monumental win over the ACC champions, the Virginia Cavaliers.
For Ryan Odom’s squad, they had to find a way to limit their turnovers against one of the best defenses in the country and take advantage of their open looks. They did just that as they only turned it over 12 times, made 12 of their 24 three-pointers, and they are the only team this season to score more than 70 points against Virginia.
The Retrievers were led by senior guard Jairus Lyles. Lyles had 28 points on 9-for-11 shooting, had four rebounds, and three assists in the upset. He has now scored 55 points in his last two games dating back to the conference championship game against Vermont.
THE RETRIEVERS CAN DO NO WRONG!!! ???#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/LkiHTw2Fpt
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2018
Even though the Retrievers were having success from beyond the arc, they weren’t afraid to attack the paint and drive to the basket. When they did get to the foul line, they were efficient as they made 10 of their 14 free throws.
On the other side, it’s going to be a tough loss for Virginia to recover from. Tony Bennett’s club has always been known for their defense, but it was the offense that let Virginia down tonight. They were just 4-for-22 from beyond the arc and 13 of their 23 field goals came from two players (Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome).
For UMBC, a matchup with Kansas State looms on Sunday. While there will be some fans rooting for the Wildcats in Charlotte, it’s safe to say the Retrievers have become the team everyone wants to get behind.
Thundering Herd Shock Wichita State In San Diego
Out in San Diego, Marshall became the second 13 seed to win a game in this tournament and there is somewhat of a Knicks connection with this team. Marshall is coached by Dan D’Antoni, who is Mike D’Antoni’s older brother.
The star for Marshall in this game was junior guard Jon Elmore. He had 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, and a pair of blocks in the win. Over his last three games, he is 16-for-31 from downtown and has scored at least 26 points in each game
During the regular season, Marshall was one of the more efficient teams in the country. They averaged 84.3 points and 17.2 assists per game and they finished 11th in the country in both of those categories.
Marshall had four players score in double figures and this is a team that only uses seven players. On defense, they were able to prevent Wichita State from doing damage from downtown outside of Conner Frankamp. Frankamp was 6-for-10 from three-point range (27 points), but the rest of the team went 2-for-19.
Marshall is setting its own 3PT line! ?#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/zfA5eKZJyd
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 16, 2018
In Wichita State’s first season in the American Conference, they went from being the trendy mid-major pick to the team that is on the other side of a big first-round upset.
As for Marshall, they now get their chance to take on an in-state rival on Sunday when they take on (5) West Virginia. Since these schools haven’t played each other since the 2015-16 season, this should be a very intense game. With West Virginia playing a great press defense in their 85-68 win over Murray State, the Thundering Herd’s offense has a tough challenge ahead of them against Jevon Carter (21 points, six steals) and the Mountaineers.
Purdue Wins But Loses One Of Their Stars
There were no issues for the number two seed in the East region Friday afternoon as Purdue rolled over Cal State Fullerton, 74-48. However, the Boilermakers chances at making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament took a big hit when center Isaac Haas got hurt with 8:49 left in the game.
After the game, it was announced that Haas will miss the remainder of the tournament due to a fracture in his right elbow, which will end his college career.
WHOA: Purdue announces that senior center Isaac Haas will miss the remainder of the NCAA Tournament with a fractured right elbow.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 16, 2018
Without Haas, Purdue loses its team’s second-best rebounder (5.6 per game) and by far its best rim protector (1.4 blocks per game). The Boilermakers do have size on their bench that can step in with 7-foot-3 freshman Matt Haarms, but it’s still a big hole to fill.
Matt Painter’s team does have upperclassmen leadership, so Purdue still has a chance to make a deep run. They will need to do it more with their guards now and the duo of Vincent and Carsen Edwards (30 combined points on Friday).
Purdue’s next opponent will be (10) Butler, who they faced in the regular season back on December 16. The Boilermakers won that game, 82-67, with all five starters scoring in double figures. They will need that same kind of balance against the Bulldogs if they want to advance to Boston for the Sweet 16.
Nevada Outlasts Texas In Overtime
On Friday, the NCAA Tournament had just its second overtime game so far and it took place in Nashville between (7) Nevada and (10) Texas in the South region. It was a game where the Longhorns led by 14 in the second half, Nevada was able to battle back thanks to the Martin brothers.
The forward duo of Caleb and Cody Martin combined to score 33 points as Nevada had four of its starters score in double figures. It was Caleb who had the hot stretch in overtime as he had nine of the team’s 19 points and the team made all six shots it took in the extra period.
This game had a lot of entertainment as both teams went shot-for-shot down the stretch. Texas had a one-point lead with 18 seconds left, but star freshman Mo Bamba fouled Jordan Caroline with three seconds left. Caroline made one of the two free throws to force overtime, but Bamba ended up fouling out on that play.
It might be Bamba’s last game in a Texas uniform as the freshman has a good chance to be a high lottery pick in this June’s NBA Draft. He had 13 points and 14 rebounds along with three blocks. The Longhorns’ leading scorer in the loss was Kerwin Roach II (26 points).
Now, Nevada gets ready to take on (2) Cincinnati on Sunday. The Bearcats were down 47-46 in the second half against (15) Georgia State with 9:31 left, but Cincinnati ended the game on a 22-6 run. Mick Cronin’s squad has a great defense, but they could have their hands full with Nevada. I still think the Bearcats will win and get to the Sweet 16, but Nevada will make it fun.
Nevada with THE FLUSH in OT!#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/BcbkvBztBm
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 16, 2018
Auburn Survived, But It Wasn’t Pretty
The other 4-13 matchup out in San Diego between (4) Auburn and (13) College of Charleston was an ugly basketball game. However, its March and all the Tigers care about is that they survived and advanced into the second round with a 62-58 win.
Auburn shot just 35.6 percent from the floor and 20.8 percent from downtown (5-for-24), but they found a way to hit the clutch shots when it mattered. With 1:16 left and the game tied at 56, Tigers’ guard Jared Harper hit his lone trifecta of the game and it ended up being the game-winner.
For College of Charleston, this game was all about missed opportunities. While they held Auburn’s offense to 61 points with their defense, their offense missed a lot of free throws (7-for-14) and they turned it over 21 times. When you are the underdog in a game, you can’t struggle in those areas and expect to win.
Despite all those errors, the Cougars had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Grant Riller’s three-pointer came up short and there was a good case that a foul should’ve been called on the Tigers. Nevertheless, Auburn moves on and gets a shot at Clemson on Sunday.