Tourney Thoughts: It'll be hard to top Day 1 for excitement, drama
Whether unprecedented or unbelieveable, each suit Thursday's tourney openers
Danero Thomas' real, live buzzer-beater got the games off to a rousing start
There are also plenty of strong games on the docket for Friday's Day 2
Opening salvo: The word that comes to mind is "unprecedented." I don't know if I'm an official historian of the tournament, but it sure seemed like no opening-day I've seen before. There was that one day in the early '80s where there were a few buzzer-beaters right in a row, and that was considered a seminal moment, but today was just unbelievable. I'm honestly sitting here trying to remember what the early games were -- it's all a blur.
BYU-Florida was the first game of the day, and that went to double-overtime. And then you had Murray State-Vanderbilt, which not only was an upset, but ended on a buzzer-beater. And we always talk about a buzzer-beater can be a misnomer; sometimes a kid hits a shot with like 1.7 seconds left and then the other team gets a desperation heave and the game ends -- that's not technically a buzzer beater. Danero Thomas hit a real, live buzzer-beater. Old Dominion-Notre Dame came down to the final possession, and Villanova-Robert Morris was tight, and Sam Houston State hung around with Baylor -- it was just one after another.
This is just a completely unprecedented showing for the first day of the tournament. I don't think anyone's ever going to forget about what happened today.
Most shocking development: Georgetown being as bad as it was. There's absolutely no way they should be losing by that kind of margin to Ohio. It's not just that they lost, it's the way that they lost. I was more surprised at that than I would have been if Villanova would have lost. I haven't been a big Villanova guy for a while. In my Stock Report back in January, I had them as a SELL. I've thought for quite that Villanova was a little suspect, and most people, myself included, did not think they deserved a No. 2 seed. So, yeah, that would have been a shock, but the way that Georgetown loss still would've trumped it. The game was never close -- they had to fight to get back to even get back to the 14-point deficit they lost by.
Cinderella most likely to keep going: Murray State. Murray State-Butler's an interesting game because the teams are very similar. They're both "the whole is greater than the parts" type of teams. They both really share the ball and a lot of different guys can score. There are no real spectacular individual players, just two really good individual teams that know how to win. Butler's winning streak right now is 21 and Murray State's at one point was 17 (which at the time was tied with Butler for the longest streak).
Most memorable moment: Thomas hitting the buzzer-beating jumper for Murray State.
Player of the day: Jimmer Fredette, BYU. I'm actually brainstorming the different variations of the name. First of, I think "Jimmer" is now a verb. Much like "Pittsnogle" is a verb. Jimmer-esque, Jimmer-iffic -- I hope they stick around cause I'm going to have some fun with the name Jimmer over the weekend on television.
Most impressive team: Kansas State. They were in control from the get-go. They made their statement early and never let North Texas get into the game. North Texas is a pretty good team.
Goat of the day: Gary Johnson, Texas. He missed two free throws right before Ish Smith hit the game-winner for Wake Forest. We've been talking about their foul shooting all season long: they're ranked 324th in the country. That's going to catch up with you in a close game like that.
Most disappointing team: UTEP. After Georgetown, whom I talked about at length above, I would put UTEP in this slot. It's odd to say about a No. 12 seed in a 12-5 game, but I thought they were two very evenly matched teams. I was more impressed with Butler than I was disappointed in UTEP, but I thought they Miners would give them a tougher fight.
One thing I learned: Washington's a lot better than I thought. They're very competitive. I looked at Washington as a good matchup for Marquette, but Marquette was also a good matchup for Washington. I said that Marquette would not only win that game, but that it would go to the Sweet 16. Though I also said that Quincy Pondexter would be the best player on the floor. He was pretty bad in the first half, but in the second half he was really good and, of course, he hit the game-winner.
Sign of a true contender: Baylor getting bad games from Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn and still winning. Carter had two points (1-for-3). Dunn ended up with 13, but I think most of them came in the last four minutes. I think Carter's the most important player on that team, so the fact that he was basically M.I.A. and they still won the game was a good sign. I know it's Sam Houston State, but still -- that is the sign of a contender.
What to look forward to tomorrow: There's no way tomorrow can live up to what happened today.
Temple-Cornell is going to be a real fun game to watch: best three-point shooting team in the country against one of the best defensive three-point teams in the country.
Purdue-Siena is intriguing, too. Purdue's been pretty bad without [Robbie] Hummel, and Siena's a very good team. If Siena wins, it may be the least surprising 13-over-4 win in history.
Cal-Louisville's going to be a very high-scoring game, and those are always fun to watch.
More College Basketball
College Basketball Truth & Rumors