The first 16 games of the First Round provided us with dazzling performances and upsets. Looking at Friday’s games, expect nothing less as March Madness seems to always deliver. Here’s what happened in the First Round on Thursday:
The Ja Morant Show vs Marquette
The sophomore guard showed the world why he’s a top three pick in June’s draft. The matchup coming into the game that everyone was looking forward to was Morant vs Marquette’s Markus Howard. But it was Morant that stole the show, as his 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists lead to a Murray State route. It was the first triple-double in the tournament since Draymond Green did so in 2011. Ja Morant also became just the eighth player ever to record a triple-double in the NCAA Tournament. Morant and the Racers will look to keep their season alive against Florida State on Saturday.
Minnesota, Florida Pull Off Upsets
In the first game of the day, the Gophers shot lights out from three-point range as they took down the Louisville Cardinals 86-76. Minnesota came into the game averaging just 5.2 three-point makes a game, but hit a whopping 11 against Louisville. Gabe Kalscheur led the Gophers with 24 points, with Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey adding 18 points each. It was Minnesota’s first tournament win since 2013. They get Big Ten foe in Michigan State next.
Florida topped Nevada 70-61 in another 7/10 matchup. Gators’ Kevarrius Hayes led Florida with a team-high 16 points on 5/6 shooting. The Wolf Pack cut the lead to two after trailing by as many as 18 in the 2nd half. The Gators will play Michigan with a chance to go to the Sweet 16.
Top Seeds LSU, Auburn Survive
Skylar Mays scored 19 points as the fourth-seeded Tigers escaped upset-minded Yale out of the Ivy League by a score of 79-74. It was LSU’s second consecutive game without head coach Will Wade, who has been suspended indefinitely due to alleged recruiting violations. The Tigers battle Maryland in the Round of 32 on Saturday.
Despite a near late-game collapse, fifth-seeded Auburn survived against New Mexico State 78-77. Down by two with under five seconds left, Aggies’ Terrell Brown was fouled on a three-point attempt. He made one of three free throws as Auburn escaped with a one-point win. Jared Harper paced the Tigers with 17 points in the win, as Auburn plays Kanas next for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Other Notable Games:
- Gonzaga, Kentucky, Kansas advance easily
- Florida State: 76, Vermont: 69
- Michigan State: 76, Bradley: 65
- Maryland: 79, Belmont: 77
- Villanova: 61, St. Mary’s: 57
- Wofford:84, Seton Hall: 68 (First tournament win)
- Michigan:74, Montana: 55
- Baylor: 78, Syracuse:69
- Purdue: 61, Old Dominion: 48