The opening day of the opening round of the NCAA tournament was less than stellar. There were a lot of blowout and not much in the way of upsets.
That all changed on Friday afternoon, as Day 2 provided us with one of the most exciting four hours since I started following college basketball. It started with Norfolk State’s upset of No. 2 Missouri. As that game was wrapping up, four more games were kicking off.
While Memphis losing to St. Louis would have been notable at any other point during the tournament, it got swept under the rug as another No. 2 seed went down, this time with Lehigh knocking off Duke. Lehigh’s win completely overshadowed No. 13 Ohio’s upset of Michigan. All this was happening while No. 10 Purdue blew an 11 point lead in the final minutes only to win the game when a St. Mary’s player traveled on an inbounds pass.
And there were still four more games to be played.
This recap won’t do the day justice. But I can sure try:
Player of the Day: Draymond Green, Michigan State: For the second time in his career, Draymond Green recorded a triple-double in the NCAA tournament, finishing with 24 points, 11 boards and 10 assists as the top seed Spartans advanced past No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn 89-67. Green is the only Michigan State* player to have a triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since Magic Johnson.
*(I should have clarified that better. My bad.)
They were good too:
– Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State: O’Quinn finished with 26 points, 14 boards and four blocks as the No. 15 Spartans upset two seed Missouri, 86-84.
– CJ McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum introduced himself to the country as he went for 30 points, seven boards and six assists in a 75-70 win over No. 2 Duke.
– Tu Holloway, Xavier: Holloway had 25 points, including the game-winner, as No. 10 Xavier beat Notre Dame 67-63.
Team of the Day: Lehigh Mountain Hawks: For just the sixth time in history — but the second time Friday evening — a No. 15 seed won a game in the NCAA tournament. The Mountain Hawks got a terrific performance from star guard CJ McCollum and used a 15-5 run midway through the second half as they knocked off No. 2 seed Duke. The win means that Lehigh will take on Xavier in the round of 32, setting up a matchup between McCollum and Tu Holloway.
– South Florida Bulls: USF shook off a slow start, using a 30-6 run to spark a 58-44 win over No. 5 Temple.
– Ohio Bobcats: DJ Cooper had 21 points and five assists as Ohio landed their second upset in three seasons, beating Michigan 63-60.
– St. Louis Billikens: Kwamaine Mitchell and Brian Conklin scored all 14 points in a 14-2 run that gave the Billikens an eight point lead late in the second half. They went on to win 61-54.
Game of the Day: No. 15 Norfolk State 86, No. 2 Missouri 84: One of the best tournament games I’ve seen in a long, long time. Missouri didn’t choke. Norfolk State outplayed them. O’Quinn was sensational, and he wasn’t alone. Pendarvis Williams and Chris McEachin both went for 20. The Spartans shot 10-19 from three. And more importantly, just made enough plays down the stretch to win. Missouri was a 21 point favorite, the largest ever to lose in the NCAA tournament.
I hope you also saw:
– No. 3 Florida State 66, No. 14 St. Bonaventure: Andrew Nicholson was terrific early, but Florida State made a run late in the second half to beat the Bonnies.
– No. 8 Creighton 58, No. 9 Alabama 57: Creighton used a 14-0 late in the second half to take a seven point lead on the Crimson Tide, holding on to win despite missing four of five free throws in the final minutes.
They’ve had better days: Virginia Cavaliers: The Cavs were utterly embarrassed against Florida. They lost 71-45 in a game that they never seemed to be in. It was a disappointing end to what had been a disappointing season for UVA.
– Clint Steindl, St. Mary’s: Clint Steindly traveled on an in-bounds, giving the ball back to Purdue with 20 seconds left. At the time, the Gaels had erased an 11 point lead in the final minutes. Purdue would score the game-winning points on the ensuing possession.
– Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Grant’s lane violation cost the Irish a chance to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left on the clock.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.