The first day of the men’s NCAA Tournament more than made up for the 2020 hiatus, with three overtime games, a healthy dose of upsets and already several emerging storylines to track – particularly the dichotomy between the presentation of the men’s tournament compared to what the women are experiencing.
On the court, both No. 1 seeds dominated, while a two-seed – Ohio State – fell to Cinderella candidate Oral Roberts. With 16 more games on tap for Saturday, which other top teams should steel themselves for heartbreak?
Follow along for the latest updates and analysis from USA TODAY Sports’ team of reporters, editors and columnists.
Abilene Christian stuns Texas
No. 13 Abilene Christian secured its first men’s NCAA Tournament win in school history by upsetting No. 3 Texas 53-52. Joe Pleasant – Abilene Christian’s worst free-throw shooter – hit the winning free throws when a foul was called with the Wildcats trailing 52-51 with less than two seconds to go.
Texas committed a season-high 23 turnovers in the upset loss.
UCLA knocks off BYU
The Pac-12’s strong NCAA Tournament showing continued as First Four participant UCLA defeated No. 6 seed BYU 73-62 in the first round.
The No. 11 Bruins were powered by Johnny Juzang’s excellent game. The sophomore guard finished with 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting and pulled down five rebounds.
The nation’s No. 1 team did not mess around in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs demolished No. 16 Norfolk State 98-55 to move to 27-0 on the year.
Gonzaga shot 55.7% from the field and hit over 50% of its 3-point attempts (14-for-27). Corey Kispert led the way with 23 points.
The No. 3 Longhorns are in a close battle with No. 14 seed Abilene Christian. Texas, the Big 12 tournament champion, has a 28-23 lead at halftime against the Southland champions.
After winning its First Four game against Michigan State, UCLA looked to extend its stay in Indiana against No. 6 seed BYU. The Bruins took a big step to doing that in the first half against the Cougars, jumping out to a 38-27 lead at the break.
Johnny Juzang did the heavy lifting, scoring 19 of the Bruins’ 38 points.
HALFTIME: No. 1 Gonzaga 43, No. 16 Norfolk St. 23
The Bulldogs’ Corey Kispert is 5-for-7 from three and Anton Watson has eight points off the bench.
FINAL: No. 8 Oklahoma 72, No. 9 Missouri 68
It had been a back-and-forth affair for about 36 minutes before Oklahoma pulled away. Austin Reaves (10-12 FT) had 23 points (13 in the second half) for the Sooners. The drama was only just beginning, however.
Dru Smith (6-10 3-point range) kept the Tigers in the game down the stretch with a pair of clutch triples, cutting it to 70-67. Reaves had the ball stripped with about 15 seconds remaining, but Mizzou couldn’t get a 3-point attempt off before being fouled, which effectively ended the Tigers’ comeback attempt.
The Sooners will have a tough test ahead of them now in No. 1 Michigan.
FINAL: No. 10 Maryland 63, No. 7 Connecticut 54
The Huskies were seen as a dark-horse Final Four team. The Terrapins, who looked like they wouldn’t be part of the tournament two months ago, had different plans. Eric Ayala led Maryland with a game-high 23 points, and Aaron Wiggins made four threes (14 points). James Bouknight went for 15 in the loss.
The Terps will face No. 2 Alabama in the second round.
FINAL: Ohio 62, Virginia 58
The Bobcats did it. After the Cavaliers entered with the preparation of only a shootaround Saturday afternoon due to coronavirus restrictions, Ohio gave them the quick boot. Ben Vander Plas scored 10 points in a row for Ohio at one point, and the Bobcats kept executing on the offensive end down the stretch.
Virginia didn’t go quietly in the final minute.
Still, the defending champions have been ousted.
No. 13 Ohio, champions of the Mid-American Conference, are leading No. 4 Virginia, the 2019 national champions, 49-47 with less than three minutes to play. The winner faces No. 5 Creighton in the second round.
Iowa into second round
FINAL: No. 2 Iowa 86, No. 15 Grand Canyon 74
Luka Garza finished 9 of 16 from the floor for 24 points and freshman Keegan Murray added 13 points off the bench. It was a valiant effort for the Antelopes in their first ever men’s tournament appearance.
Other action: Trailing by one at the half, No. 9 Oklahoma ripped off a 12-2 run by the first media timeout.
HALFTIME: No. 9 Missouri 27, No. 8 Oklahoma 26
This one is as even on the stat sheet as it is on the scoreboard, although the Tigers will have to watch the turnovers (seven) in the second half.
Terps trapping Huskies
HALFTIME: No. 10 Maryland 33, No. 7 Connecticut 22
The story of this game through the first 20 minutes: The Terps have made 6 of 8 3-pointers in the first half, while the Huskies are shooting 23.1% overall.
Almost inexplicable: UConn has 18 offensive rebounds. The Huskies are struggling significantly around the rim.
HALFTIME: No. 4 Virginia 28, No. 13 Ohio 27
A 3-pointer by Ben Vander Plas in the final seconds brough the Bobcats within one in what’s been a defensive-minded matchup thus far. Both teams are 10-for-28 from the field.
Hawkeyes hold halftime lead
HALFTIME: Iowa 42, Grand Canyon 31
Luka Garza picked up two fouls and had to sit but that didn’t stop the Hawkeyes from asserting themselves over the first 20 minutes. Joe Wieskamp is up to 11 points and eight rebounds.
The remaining three games in this timeslot are currently in the first half.
One less game will be on the docket tonight, as the NCAA is confronting its biggest fear: a coronavirus infiltration of the “soft bubble” it has constructed in the greater Indianapolis area.
Oregon will automatically advance to the second round after VCU forfeited because of COVID-19 protocols. The NCAA officially declared it a “no-contest.” The Ducks will face the winner of the Iowa-Grand Canyon game.
“The NCAA and committee regret that VCU’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to play in a tournament in which they earned the right to participate,” the NCAA said in its announcement.
Current games in action
- 6:35 p.m.: No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon (TBS)
- 7:10 p.m.: No. 7 UCONN vs. No. 10 Maryland (CBS)
- 7:15 p.m.: No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 Ohio (truTV)
- 7:25 p.m.: No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Missouri (TNT)
FINAL: No. 6 USC 72, No. 11 Drake 56
What was a three-point margin at half turned into a runaway victory for the Trojans, perhaps after the Bulldogs battled in an intense play-in game less than 48 hours earlier.
USC freshman Evan Mobley lived up to his hype as a player to watch this tournament. The seven-footer notched 17 points with 11 boards and three blocks, and his older brother Isaiah (a sophomore) put up 15 points. Next up for Mobley and the Trojans is third-seeded Kansas.
The Pac-12 is now 4-0 in the tournament.
FINAL: No. 2 Alabama 68, No. 15 Iona 55
Rick Pitino’s return to the men’s NCAA Tournament was a short one.
Second-seeded Alabama withstood a challenge from another small Catholic school coached by Pitino, holding off Iona 68-55 on Saturday. Herbert Jones led the Crimson Tide with 20 points and six rebounds and John Petty Jr. added 10 points and seven boards for Alabama, which will face the winner of UConn-Maryland, in the second round Monday.
Isaiah Ross had 19 for the Gaels and Asante Gist had 16.
Michigan’s Isaiah Livers wears #NotNCAAProperty shirt
Due to a stress fracture in his foot, Isaiah Livers is out indefinitely for the Michigan Wolverines. That didn’t stop him from making his voice heard.
Livers wore a black shirt with #NotNCAAProperty written on it, drawing attention to the recent player-led movement calling out the NCAA over name, image and likeness rights. Livers, Rutgers’ Geo Baker and Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon have been among the most vocal on social media.
David McCormack has no COVID rust
David McCormack, the Kansas Jayhawks’ 6-foot-10 big man who tested positive for coronavirus last week, had been in Indianapolis for less than 24 hours when the fourth-seeded Jayhawks’ first-round game against No. 13 Eastern Washington tipped off.
He scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as Kansas held off the Eagles, 93-84. McCormack hadn’t played in a game since March 4.
“After the way he started the game, I didn’t think he was going to give us much. But once he got his legs under him, he was really, really good in the second half,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “It’s impressive considering his conditioning after all of the stuff he came back from. It was really good to see.”
The Jayhawks needed his spark, as the Eagles led by eight at halftime.
Creighton clears UCSB
FINAL: No. 5 Creighton 63, No. 12 UCSB 62
The Gauchos had a chance to win it with a great look near the rim in the final seconds, but the attempt rimmed out.
USC up on Drake at half
HALFTIME: USC 40, Drake 37
Joseph Yesufu leads Drake with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Freshman Evan Mobley already has 13 points and eight rebounds.
The final score makes this one seem much closer than it was in reality. The Wolverines dismantled the Tigers by making eight more threes and outrebounding them by 10. Mike Smith led the winning effort with 18 points. None of the one-seeds have struggled thus far; Gonzaga plays later Saturday.
Upset alert! UCSB vs. Creighton
Creighton appeared to be in control, but the Gauchos cut it to a one-point lead with less than two minutes remaining. What should be an exciting finish is on truTV. It would be the second 12-5 upset of the weekend.
HALFTIME: Alabama 33, Iona 32
A Gaels 7-0 run to end the half trimmed the margin to one point. Alabama hasn’t been consistent on either end of the floor, and Rick Pitino’s crew is playing hard. Gaels guard Isaiah Ross has 15 points with a trio of thr Could Iona become the second 15-seed to score an upset this tournament?
Marcus Zegarowski (11 points) nailed a pair of 3-pointers and had a buzzer-beater floater to close the first half and propel the No. 5 Blue Jays ahead of the Gauchos 34-30, despite the No. 12 seed leading for most of the first 20 minutes.
The most controversial coaching figure in the sport (and that is saying something) will try to lead his No. 15 Iona Gaels past the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. Should be lots of points! Game is airing on TBS.
The No. 12 UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos are in a tight battle early against fifth-seeded Creighton.
Amadou Sou converted a monster alley-oop to set the tone.
FINAL: No. 8 LSU 76, No. 9 St. Bonaventure 61
In what could have been a fun first-round matchup, the Tigers instead submitted the Bonnies early and kept them at arms length throughout the game. St. Bonaventure simply couldn’t overcome LSU’s length on either end of the floor.
The Tigers’ Cameron Thomas (11-for-13 FT) poured in 27 points. LSU will likely face No. 1 Michigan, currently leading Texas Southern by double digits in the first half, in the second round,.
FINAL: No. 3 Kansas 93, No. 14 Eastern Washington 84
If anything, this game gave fans tons of offense, an upset attempt and a new folk hero in the bearded Tanner Groves, who had a game-high 36 points in the loss. His brother Jacob scored 23 but the Eagles found little production elsewhere, and Kansas staged a second-half comeback to put Eastern Washington away.
David McCormack, one of the Jayhawks who tested positive for coronavirus last week, came off the bench and scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting with nine rebounds. Marcus Garrett made 4 of 6 3-pointers and had 23.
Vegas angle: Either side of the 1.5-point spread was sweating the final seconds of the game. A late foul sent Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji to the free throw line and he sunk both to put the Jayhawks up 11. But Eastern Washington’s Jacob Davison drove into the lane and hit a short jumper to bring the final margin back to nine and give the Eagles the cover.
FINAL: No. 4 Florida State 66, No. 13 North Carolina-Greensboro 56
It wasn’t the Seminoles’ prettiest effort, but the job was completed against a Greensboro squad that provided a difficult first-round assignment. RaiQuan Gray led FSU with 17 points.
Isaiah Miller gave it his all in the loss with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and intense defense (two steals)
HALFTIME: LSU 31, St. Bonaventure 22
The Tigers overcame a slow start and outrebounded the Bonnies 24-15. St. Bonaventure didn’t make any of its 10 3-point attempts and was 7-for-30 from the field. Trendon Watford and Cameron Thomas each have 10 points for LSU.
FINAL: Colorado 96, Georgetown 73
The Buffaloes shot 64% (16-for-25) from three and the Hoyas could not keep up. Jabari Walker made all five of his three-point attempts and finished with 24 points, while D’Shawn Schwartz drilled five of his own and finished with 18 points. McKinley Wright IV had 12 points, five rebounds and 13 assists.
HALFTIME: Eastern Washington 46, Kansas 38
Jacob Groves and Tanner Groves, brothers who hail from Spokane, both lit it up in the first half with 16 points and three triples each. The two are coming off all-Big Sky Tournament team selections, as the Eagles are trying to pull off the 14-3 upset.
Neither No. 4 Florida State nor No. 3 Kansas are having an easy go of it against their respective double-digit-seeded opponent.
No. 13 North Carolina-Greensboro trailed by three at halftime and tied the game early in the second half against the Seminoles. The 14th-seeded Eastern Washington Eagles led by nine as halftime neared thanks to hot starts from the Groves brothers.
HALFTIME: No. 5 Colorado 47, No. 12 Georgetown 23
The Buffaloes made 11 3-poiinters in the first half (on 17) attempts and outpaced the Hoyas in assists 15-4. Jabari Walker has 14 points off the bench for Colorado, while Georgetown is 1-for-9 from behind the arc.
In other action, No. 4 Florida State appears to be handling No. 13 North Carolina-Greensboro (truTV), with fourth-ranked Kansas set to take on 13th-seeded Eastern Washington at 1:15 p.m. EST on TBS.
The Buffaloes raced out to an early lead on the Hoyas, with freshman guard Jabari Walker playing a significant role. He’s already notched a career high in 3-pointers made (four) and had 14 points.
With about seven minutes remaining in the half, Walker was whistled for a flagrant one foul after he shoved Georgetown’s Timothy Ighoefe while they were both on the ground.
Dikembe Mutombo won’t be involved in March Madness solely via Geico commercials this year. The former NBA center and Georgetown great was on hand for the Hoyas’ game against Colorado at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday.
Tipping off Saturday’s (CBS) action is Big East tournament champion Georgetown, a 12-seed, taking on No. 5 Colorado. The Buffaloes, thanks to a trio of early triples and an 8-0, built early 10-point lead over Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas.
Colorado led 17-7 at the under-12 media timeout.
No. 4 Virginia should be cleared for its first-round matchup against No. 13 Ohio later Saturday (7:15 p.m. EST, truTV), as ESPN reported the Cavaliers cleared COVID-19 testing twice upon arrival in Indianapolis – once Friday afternoon and again early Saturday morning.
Virginia had to forfeit ahead of the ACC Tournament semifinals after a positive test within the program. At least five Cavaliers need to be cleared for Virginia to play,
Sister Jean confident
Known for her emails to players and coaches following every game, Sister Jean Schmidt had to improvise after her email apparently went awry during her stay in Indiana to watch her eight-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers.
The 101-year-old went old-school and wrote her missives to the team by hand.
The Ramblers defeated No. 9 Georgia Tech during the first round Friday, setting up a Sunday date against in-state foe and No. 1 seed Illinois. Don’t expect Sister Jean to tell the Ramblers to back down.
“I believe we can do it,” she said.
Contributing: Scott Gleeson, Nancy Armour, Chris Bumbaca; Michelle Martinelli, For The Win; Hendrix Magley, Indianapolis Star