Down goes another No. 4 seed. Marshall’s Jon Elmore scored 27 points to lead the 13th-seeded Thundering Herd to an 81-75 win over Wichita State in San Diego. It was Friday’s first upset, and it was a big one.
Marshall earned its first-ever tournament win in its sixth appearance, and denied the Shockers a sixth consecutive trip to the second round. The upset came on the heels of No. 13 seed Buffalo’s 89-68 win over No. 4 seed Arizona Thursday night. It’s the first time since 2008 that two 13 seeds have won first-round games.
Wichita State led 37-34 at halftime, but Marshall, coached by Houston Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni’s older brother, Dan, wouldn’t go away. (D’Antoni looked fly as heck in his usual blazer and T-shirt getup on the sideline.)
Gotta love the T-shirt and blazer look from Dan D’Antoni pic.twitter.com/Cmq2NoLLQu
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 16, 2018
Elmore’s standout performance featured four three-pointers, including one in the second half that he launched from Los Angeles. The Steph Effect is real.
Marshall took a 78-72 lead with 2:01 to play on a C.J. Burks steal and dunk, but Wichita State responded with a Conner Frankamp three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining. A dunk by Ajdin Penava pushed the Marshall lead back to five and the Shockers, who made only 8 of 29 shots from three-point range, couldn’t buy a bucket in the closing seconds. Frankamp led Wichita State with 27 points in defeat. Marshall, meantime, will play the winner of Friday’s West Virginia-Murray State game for a berth in the Sweet 16.
Texas A&M starts slow, finishes strong against Providence: Seventh-seeded Texas A&M overcame a brick-filled start to down Providence, 73-69, in Friday’s first game. Admon Gilder paced four Aggies in double figures with 18 points to send the No. 10 Friars and their delightfully creepy mascot home. Texas A&M advances to play the winner of Friday’s second game in Charlotte between No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 15 Lipscomb.
The Aggies missed shots every which way in the early going, but especially via brick and air ball. In fact, it took them more than six minutes to score a point. Finally, at the 12:43 mark of the first half, they managed a field goal after missing their first 10 shots. They also had five turnovers at the game’s outset. It wasn’t pretty.
Fear not, though. With just more than 11 minutes left in the first half, the Aggies had tied the score at 9, and by halftime, they led, 28-27. They finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 16, 2018
Senior Rodney Bullock led the Friars with 22 points in defeat, and Providence Coach Ed Cooley managed to make it through the game without ripping his pants.
Afternoon (All times Eastern):
- No. 7 Texas A&M 73, No. 10 Providence 69
- No. 2 Purdue 74, No. 15 Cal State Fullerton 48
- No. 13 Marshall 81, No. 4 Wichita State 75
- No. 2 Cincinnati 68, No. 15 Georgia State 53
- 2:45 p.m. No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 15 Lipscomb (CBS)
- 3:10 p.m. No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Butler (truTV)
- 4 p.m. No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Murray State (TNT)
- 4:30 p.m. No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Texas (TBS)
Evening (All times Eastern):
- 6:50 p.m. No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Kansas State (TNT)
- 7:10 p.m. No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 14 Bucknell (CBS)
- 7:20 p.m. No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 16 Texas Southern (TBS)
- 7:27 p.m. No. 4 Auburn vs. No. 13 Charleston (truTV)
- 9:20 p.m. No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 UMBC (TNT)
- 9:40 p.m. No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Syracuse (CBS)
- 9:50 p.m. No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 9 Florida State (TBS)
- 9:57 p.m. No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (truTV)
Cincinnati holds off stool-free Ron Hunter and Georgia State: Georgia State was back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015, when the Panthers busted more than a few brackets with a first-round upset of third-seeded Baylor. That game provided one of the tournament’s shining moments. Georgia State Coach Ron Hunter, who tore his Achilles’ tendon celebrating the Panthers’ Sun Belt conference championship a week earlier, tumbled off of the stool he was using on the bench after his son, R.J., sank the game-winning three-pointer.
One of the best NCAA Tournament moments in recent memory was R.J. Hunter’s go-ahead 3 against Baylor with his dad Ron Hunter falling off his rolling stool in the background. #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/HSFvLIbthF
— Jeff D Lowe (@JeffDLowe) March 14, 2018
“I really want to get our team to the Sweet 16,” Hunter told reporters this week. “I wasn’t healthy before. We couldn’t get to the Sweet 16 because I was on a scooter. But I’ve got both my feet. I’m ready to go. I’m healthy right now, man. I can go dunk if I want to. I’m on cloud nine.”
Hunter doesn’t need the stool for support anymore, but Georgia State packed it anyway for good luck. After leading second-seeded Cincinnati by as many as seven points in the first half, the Panthers trailed 35-30 at halftime. The Bearcats pulled away in the second half for a 68-53 win behind 27 points from Jarron Cumberland.
Look who is back on the bus and heading to Nashville… pic.twitter.com/B9RRukjpkW
— GSU Men’s Basketball (@GeorgiaStateMBB) March 14, 2018
Purdue rolls on: Second-seeded Purdue cruised to a 74-48 win over No. 15 Cal State Fullerton.
And the Boilermakers had a novel way of subduing the Titans early in their first-round game Friday.
Purdue is tearing Cal State Fullerton to shreds pic.twitter.com/PbQKhvGMxP
— SI Extra Mustard (@SI_ExtraMustard) March 16, 2018
Making only their third-ever NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2008, the Titans led 12-11 with 10:14 remaining in the half before the Boilermakers reeled off nine straight points. Purdue had a nine-point lead at halftime, and dominated the second half. Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards — no relation — led the Boilermakers with 15 points apiece.
Brackets are burning: The first full day of the NCAA tournament is in the books, and the results weren’t pretty for most brackets, which were badly bruised by Buffalo’s upset of fourth-seeded Arizona in one of the last games of the session.
But a new day dawns, hope springs eternal, yada yada, and there’s still life left to be wrung from your brackets — even if your name is Charles Barkley. Just know that you are not alone. Out of 17.3 million brackets submitted to ESPN, only .00036 remain perfect, so maybe set the bar a little lower than perfection. (That works out to just 6,306 perfect brackets) By comparison, after the first day of games in 2014, .4 percent out of 11 million still remained perfect — more than 41,000 brackets. And nearly 5 percent of entrants picked Arizona to win the tournament, according to ESPN, which was more than backed higher seeds Xavier, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan, Tennessee or Texas Tech.
The NCAA tracked tens of millions of brackets through six major online games last year, and found that only one bracket remained perfect through 39 games. It fell by the wayside on the final matchup of the third day of games Saturday.
As for opening night 2018, the big stunner Thursday was Buffalo’s 89-68 rout in Boise, Idaho, a victory that gave the Bulls — not to be confused with the Bills — their first NCAA tourney victory and established #BullsMafia as a worthy companion to the NFL’s #BillsMafia. No. 4 seed Arizona led 46-45 with 17:22 left, but Buffalo went on a surreal 44-22 stampede and posted the second-largest win by a 13 seed over a 4 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Catch up on the other results here.
So… how’s that bracket looking after Arizona went down? pic.twitter.com/lC9i9K35uA
— trey wingo (@wingoz) March 16, 2018
Count Barkley among those with brackets that are closing in on Hindenburg status. He had Arizona losing to Michigan State in the championship game. “Man, I got a whole lot of Xs up here now,” was his astute observation during Friday’s pregame show. Barkley went on to say that SEC is the best basketball conference and — pssst — his bracket has Rhode Island beating Duke.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 15, 2018
Now, what games seem ripe for upset on Friday? Here are four matchups for favorites to fear: No. 4 Wichita State vs. No. 13 Marshall; No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 15 Georgia State; No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 New Mexico State and No. 6 TCU vs. Syracuse.
Keep an eye out for Bill Murray: The actor, a March Madness fixture, will most likely turn up at an Xavier game, given that his son, Luke, is an assistant coach there. The Musketeers tip off against Texas Southern at 7:20 (Eastern) in San Diego. His other option is to head to Nashville for Charleston’s tip-off against Auburn. Why Charleston, you ask? Murray, who co-owns the city’s RiverDogs minor league baseball team, also has a house there and turned up last week for a Cougars game.
Pac-12 sadness: Arizona’s loss means that, for the first time since 1986, the Pac-10/12 will not have a team in the NCAA round of 32.
Deserting the desert: After Arizona’s loss to Buffalo, two of the team’s stars wasted no time in announcing their plans for the future. Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier officially declared for June’s NBA draft. “I learned a lot and built relationships on this team,” Ayton, the 7-foot freshman who could be the first player chosen, said (via ESPN). “This is the only team that I actually loved. Being a Wildcat is amazing. I think it’s the right thing to do, right now. I think I’m ready for the NBA. … I just have to finish off school right and just work this summer and play for the draft.”
Trier, a junior guard, said he wasn’t worried about making the jump to the pros. “I’m closing the book on this chapter and looking forward to the next one in my life. It’s a pleasure to be coached by [Sean Miller] and be a part of him and this program for three years.”
— Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Texas’s Mo Bamba, freshman and future NBA lottery picks, have radiant personalities that will almost certainly be missing from next year’s NCAA tournament. Asks The Post’s Chuck Culpepper, “Is there enough time for a college legacy, for players such as Porter and Bamba, in this tournament flicker?”
— Every tournament needs a villain and luckily for this year’s event, Duke’s Grayson Allen has made peace with his role. The Blue Devils advanced with a victory over Iona and Allen took a razzing in Pittsburgh. “It would be really surprising to me if I didn’t get booed as I walked out onto the court,” Allen said. “I’ve kind of just accepted it. I feed off of it. I’m not only used to it, but I own it now.”
— No. 1 overall seed Virginia is trying to reach its first Final Four since 1984, and the Cavaliers will have to do so without ACC sixth man of the year De’Andre Hunter. Virginia will turn in part to 6-foot-9 reserve Mamadi Diakite, who moved to the U.S. from Guinea four years ago speaking no English. And while Virginia’s path “became significantly more complicated,” The Post’s Jerry Brewer argues that ” this should be considered just the first test of whether it has the flexibility to survive.”
— Virginia’s opponent, 16th-seeded UMBC, is a prohibitive underdog in just its second NCAA tournament appearance, and the Retrievers are embracing the moment. Don’t forget that Coach Ryan Odom spent part of his childhood in Charlottesville, where he occasionally would slip on a Virginia T-shirt and hang out with his father at University Hall. Linchpin Jairus Lyles turned down the chance to transfer into big-time college hoops so that he could max out his legacy at the Catonsville school, as John Feinstein wrote earlier this season.
— Arizona’s stunning loss eliminated the NCAA’s biggest headache, and ended the collegiate career of star big man DeAndre Ayton, the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. Teammate Allonzo Trier also said he will leave school and head to the NBA.
— Neil Greenberg will be updating his live round-by-round odds for each team to advance throughout the tournament. Thursday’s biggest surprises — upset losses by Miami and Arizona — give Kentucky a 73 percent to make the Sweet 16, and Tennessee a 67 percent chance to do the same.
— The most important thing you’ll need to know over the first two days of the tournament — the absolute most essential information is how to find truTV, the Turner channel that assumes a lofty status along with CBS, TNT and TBS for this part of the March Madness. Here’s everything you need to know about how to quickly find it.
— Barack Obama isn’t letting a little thing like being out of office keep him from his annual “Barack-etology” efforts. Spoilers: he has Michigan State winning the men’s title and UConn (again) winning the women’s championship.
— And don’t forget about the other March Madness — a rush for vasectomies during the NCAA tournament.
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