PLAYERS OF THE DAY
You guys might have missed it — it’s only the single-biggest story in all of sports right now — but No. 16 seed UMBC pulled off the impossible and knocked off No. 1 seed Virginia in the first round on Friday night.
And the star was Jairus Lyles, who was playing through cramps to finish with 23 of his 28 points in the second half. He shot 9-for-11 from the floor. His parents are both UVA grads. It was one of the most unlikely and unbelievable performances that I have ever seen and that I likely ever will see, and I don’t think any of us will ever forget where we were and how we witnessed this go down.
My attention now turns to UVA. Where does a program known for choking in March go from here?
Worth noting here: The Marcus Foster revenge game did not happen, as No. 9 seed Kansas State knocked off No. 8 Creighton. The Wildcats will face UMBC on Sunday.
Before all that happened, America fell in love with Marshall junior guard Jon Elmore on Friday afternoon. After putting up gaudy numbers during the regular season in Dan D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense, Elmore put his offensive skills on full display in a Thundering Herd upset win over No. 4 seed Wichita State in the East Region.
Marshall’s second-round game against in-state rival West Virginia is going to be a ton of fun.
GAME OF THE DAY
The game between No. 7 seed Nevada and No. 10 seed Texas in the South Region was a March instant classic. It had a 14-point comeback, overtime, teams trading huge buckets, lead changes, missed key free throws and a potential buzzer-beater that rimmed out. In the end, the Wolfpack earned the tight win over the Longhorns to advance to the second round. This is the first NCAA tournament win for Nevada in 11 years. Nevada moves on to play No. 2 seed Cincinnati after the Bearcats ran by after No. 15 seed Georgia State.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Texas A&M punctuated its win over No. 10 seed Providence in the West Region as sophomore forward Robert Williams had a monster windmill near the end of the game where he nearly hit his head on the rim. Williams was one of two Aggie big men with a double-double as he finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Texas A&M will face No. 2 seed North Carolina in the next round.
WTF??? OF THE DAY
(Joe Sherburne plays for UMBC.)
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Miles Bridges went into takeover mode as No. 3 Michigan State … well, they beat No. 14 Bucknell by four points, but this was an 18 point game with four minutes left. Bridges had 29 points, nine boards and four assists. Michigan State will get No. 11 seed Syracuse in the next round.
Defending champion and No. 2 seed North Carolina cruised to an easy win over No. 15 seed Lipscomb as five Tar Heels finished in double-figures. Kenny Williams led North Carolina with 18 points while senior Theo Pinson contributed a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Tar Heels advance to the Round of 32 to face No. 7 seed Texas A&M after the Aggies beat No. 10 seed Providence.
Pulling away late in the first half, No. 2 Purdue cruised to victory over No. 15 Cal State Fullerton in the East Region. Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards both tallied 15 points each to lead the Boilermakers as Purdue had 10 different players score in the win. But the big news from this one might be the loss of Purdue senior center Isaac Haas for the rest of the season. Haas left the win on Friday after falling to the ground and fracturing his elbow.
No. 10 seed Butler will get a chance at revenge against Purdue in the second round after the Bulldogs raced out to a big, early lead and held off No. 7 seed Arkansas. Senior forward Kelan Martin poured in 27 points and sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin had 24 points to pace the Butler offense. Purdue knocked off Butler during a regular-season game in Indianapolis back in December. The loss of Haas on the interior makes the rematch that much more interesting.
No. 2 seed Cincinnati eventually pulled away from No. 15 seed Georgia State in the South Region. Sophomore Jarron Cumberland had a big afternoon with 27 points and 11 rebounds. In the second round in the South Region, the Bearcats will face No. 7 seed Nevada after the Wolfpack rallied from 14 points down to top Texas in overtime.
Meanwhile, Marshall will face an in-state rival in the second round in the East Region after No. 5 seed West Virginia knocked out No. 12 seed Murray State. The Mountaineers had a great game from All-American senior guard Jevon Carter. Carter put up 21 points, eight assists, six steals and five rebounds while also holding Racers senior guard Jonathan Stark to a 1-for-12 shooting day.