Friday’s Den: Wrapping up the first day of March Madness…….

Minnesota 86, Louisville 76— Coming into this game, Gophers scored 22.2% of their points behind arc, 4th-least in country; they were 11-27 on arc in this game, scoring 38.4% of their points behind arc, and that is how upsets happen. 

Bill Murray’s son Luke is an assistant coach for Louisville; his team lost to the Gophers, a bitter pill for Carl Spackler (Caddyshack reference) to swallow. Bill Murray was at this game, too. 

LSU 79, Yale 74— LSU jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead, was up 16 at the half, then held for dear life as the gritty Bulldogs fought hard until the end. Yale was only 8-37 on the arc, but four of the makes came near the end, as Yale covered thru the backdoor- they got within 77-74 in last 0:30. 

Auburn 79, New Mexico State 78— Auburn got really lucky here; leading by 3 at the end, they fouled a 3-point shooter with 0:01.7 left, but the kid missed two of three FT’s, then the Aggies missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer. Huge sigh of relief for the Tigers. 

Tigers led this game 65-52 with 7:54 left; they made only six of their last 13 foul shots. Auburn didn’t handle time/score situations well at all- their point guard fouled on purpose when he didn’t know he had four fouls. No bueno.

Florida State 76, Vermont 69— Spunky effort by the Catamounts falls short; Florida State has won 15 of its last 17 games. If you laid 8.5 points with the Seminoles, it was a bad beat- kid on FSU had the ball by himself under the basket with 0:06 left but dribbled out the clock instead. Vermont made 16-32 on the arc; not many teams shoot that well from the arc and lose. 

Last spring, Seminoles poached grad transfer David Nichols from Albany of America East; kid gets to the NCAA’s and plays against the Catamounts, America East’s best team. Now he and his teammates move on to play Murray State Saturday. 

Michigan State 76, Bradley 65— Final score is misleading; three Spartans played 38:00+, thats how tough this was for Izzo’s team. Bradley led by a point with 6:47 left. Since 2012, MVC teams are 9-2-1 vs spread in first round games. 

Maryland 79, Belmont 77— Its been seven years since an OVC team won a first round game, but since 2005, they’re 11-4 vs spread in this round. Belmont was up 40-34 at halftime, was up six with 6:36 left. 

Kansas 87, Northeastern 53— Except for the championship game, each NCAA tournament win this year will be worth $1.81M to the conference of the school that wins it. The money gets divided up amongst the league’s schools, with team that wins the game getting more $$$ than the other schools.

Murray State 83, Marquette 64— Complete ass-kicking; Marquette didn’t even try to press in the second half, thats how thoroughly beaten they were. Golden Eagles wound up losing six of their last seven games, as Wojciechowski is proving to be a fraud of a coach who got this job because he sat next to Mike Krzyzewski for a few years.

Five years at Marquette, and two NCAA games; losses by 20, 19 points.

Ja Morant had the first triple double by a guard in the NCAA’s since Dwyane Wade. 

Kentucky 79, Abilene Christian 44— ACU threw two starters off the team last month, one was their leading scorer; not sure why they weren’t in a play-in game. This game was awful.

Gonzaga 87, FDU 49— When Gonzaga practices tomorrow, it’ll be more competitive than this was. Zags advance to play Baylor Saturday. 

Is it possible that losing the WCC final to St Mary’s was a good thing? Probably not, but sometimes as a coach, it is easier to teach after a loss- the players are more receptive to knowledge after they’ve been humbled a little bit. 

Florida 70, Nevada 61— Eric Musselman has been in Reno for four years, done a great job with a 110-34 record, but losing this game with five senior starters has to sting. After starting season 24-1, Wolf Pack didn’t play well down stretch, going 5-4 in last nine games. Not really sure why. 

I’ll say this; down 18 in second half, Nevada started pressing and they COMPETED, and got the lead down to one, before falling short. Unlike Marquette, which fell back to a 2-3 zone when they were down 18, instead of pressing- they quit like dogs. 

Next question is this: if the people at UCLA have half a brain, they give Musselman a call, and ask him to revitalize their basketball program. If they call, will he leave Reno? 

Villanova 61, Saint Mary’s 57— Only 15 foul shots total in this game; Gaels led by a hoop at the half. Villanova basically played six kids in this game; a 7th player played only 3:00. 

Funny thing about that 7th kid; he is a grad transfer from Albany, who might’ve wound up as the Great Danes’ all-time leading scorer had he stuck around for his senior year, but he decided to play in the “big-time” and chose Villanova as his new school. Kid said he wanted to play in the NCAA tournament, which he had never done. 

He played 15-18:00 a game most of the season, but when the chips were down, in Big East tournament and NCAA’s, he’s played 5-4-8-3 minutes. Not all decisions turn out well. 

Wofford 84, Seton Hall 68— Leading 67-66 late, Terriers went on a 17-0 run to salt the game away; they made 13-28 on the arc, have lot of guys who can shoot it. Wofford will be America’s Underdog when they play Kentucky Saturday. 

Fletcher Magee of Wofford has now made the most 3-pointers of any college player ever, an impressive accomplishment. 

Michigan 74, Montana 55— When you go 16-4 in the Big Sky Conference and then win the postseason tournament, you need to enjoy Selection Sunday as much as possible, because teams that lose four games in the Big Sky aren’t going to fare too well against Michigan. 

Baylor 78, Syracuse 69— When your point guard gets suspended the day before the game, bad things usually follow; Syracuse had won its last eight first round games, but that ended here. 

Baylor was 16-34 on the arc, took only 18 two-point shots against the Syracuse zone. 

Purdue 61, Old Dominion 48— Predictably ugly game, with two low tempo teams slugging it out. Monarchs shot 28.6% inside arc, 6-25 on arc, took only six foul shots. They win in C-USA because they play the best defense there, but they can’t score when they move up in class. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.