Day one of the madness was sadly dull. Princeton failed to down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send home Notre Dame, UNC Wilmington blew a double digit lead against Virginia and Florida Golf Coast, aka Dunk City, lost to in state opponent Florida State. Middle Tennessee State was able to “upset” Minnesota, but they were actually favored to win the game and Xavier was also able to “upset” Maryland, but Maryland was only a two-point favorite.
Even though the day was not as exciting as we wanted it to be there were some big time performances and great games.
Best Game: 12. Princeton vs. 5. Notre Dame
Out of all the 12 v 5 games, this was the one I didn’t see coming. Princeton plays at the same type of pace as Notre Dame and obviously has less talent. Notre Dame was hot coming off an appearance in the ACC Tournament Final just last week. This one seemed like it would be easy for Notre Dame, but it's March and anything goes.
The game went on and Princeton was like a fly, you could tell that they were there but you just kept saying, “ehh, they will go away at some point”, but they never did. Princeton kept hanging around even though they only shot 38.6% in the game and 25.8% from three.
All of a sudden there was a minute left and you looked at the scoreboard and said, “Crap, Princeton could some how win this game” and they almost did.
On the front end of a one and one, Notre Dame point guard Matt Farrell, who is an 81% free throw shooter, clanked one off the rim and gave Princeton a chance. The Tigers went down the court and got a very good look from the three by a 42% three-point shooter Devin Cannady, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Notre Dame would grab the rebound and end the game.
Best Performance: Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern
In their first ever NCAA Tournament game, someone was going to have to step up for the Wildcats in order for them to get their first win. Bryant McIntosh answered that call for the 'Cats. The Northwestern point guard has been the key to turning finally getting this program to March, It's only fitting that he was the one to lead the Wildcats to the W. The junior ended the night with 25 points, three assists and four boards and no two points were bigger than those that came at the free throw line to give Northwestern the lead and the game. AFTER ARGUABLY THE DUMBEST FOUL IN MARCH MADNESS HISTORY by Vanderbilt’s Matthew Fisher-Davis, McIntosh went to the line and gave the Cats the lead that would win them the game. It was a much-needed performance for the Wildcats.
Most Disappointing Result: 5. Virginia over 12. UNC Wilmington
I think a lot of people thought UNC Wilmington had a really good chance to win this one. Last year they almost upset Duke and this year they got a wonderful matchup against Virginia. Early in the game UNC Wilmington was on fire and their offense was clicking. They were speeding up Virginia's pace and were controlling the game up 15 points at one point. Virginia calmed down though, came back and ultimately won the game. UNC Wilmington was able to make it close but just wasn’t able to pull off the upset as they fell to Virginia 76-71.