By Matt Noonan
Thursday was obviously a true “March Madness day.” A few brackets have been busted, some fans have dropped tears like the Miami Heat and others, such as those down in New Jersey who attend Princeton University are still shocked by the Wildcats beating their Tigers men’s basketball team, but hey, life goes on.
Any who, let us take a look back on the day’s action, as well as get everyone set for Friday’s 16-game slate, which should feature some enticing matchups that could clearly bust a few more brackets.
Game of the Day: It has to go to Butler-Old Dominion and while this may have not been the most well executed contest of them all, it clearly had that dramatic ending with the cherry on top. The Bulldogs seemed to pick up where they had left off last year during the tournament, as Butler somehow maneuvered themselves toward a NCAA title game against Duke in Indianapolis, but the end result to their fairy tale run was a loss
However, with the game on the line and Old Dominion trying to force overtime after hitting two critical free-throws, Butler senior forward Matt Howard recorded his second offensive rebound of the day and immediately scored at the buzzer to solidify the win for the Bulldogs.
Again, this may not have been the most well put together victory by the Bulldogs, but Butler will certainly need to regroup fast before their “date with destiny” against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Upset of the Day: It seemed obvious that the true upset of the day belongs to Morehead State, as the Eagles flew past Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, 62-61. Yet, what made this upset so special was certainly the final play by Morehead State’s senior guard, Demonte Harper, who knocked down the game winning shot with less than 10 seconds remaining in the second half.
Louisville entered the tournament on a down note, as they lost to University of Connecticut during the Big East conference tournament, which seemed to carry over to Thursday’s contest against the Eagles. At times the Cardinals displayed their flaws and showed that they weren’t quite a strong enough team, especially since Louisville was unable to extend their leads during the first and second half.
The Cardinals defense appeared lackluster at times and even seemed out of sync on offense. Louisville took on the role that a majority top-seeded teams does against a weaker opponent, shoot from outside the paint. The constant misses added up and eventually coast them a chance to advance to the next round against Richmond. Instead, the Eagles live another day and certainly will have to play at their best against a talented Richmond team that was able to sneak by Vanderbilt for their first win of the tournament.
Statistic of the Day: Clearly, the “stat of the day” belongs to Kentucky’s freshman guard, Brandon Knight who may missed his first seven shots of the game, but was the hero when the Wildcats needed a score. Sure, other players throughout the day may have recorded 15, 20 or 25 points, but how many of them began the tournament [0-7]? Knight’s special moment will clearly be remembered, but the only way it will be glorified is if the Wildcats can maneuver a way to win the East bracket, as well as eventually win the National Championship too.
Don’t consider Kentucky a favorite to knock out Ohio State, Xavier, University of North Carolina or Syracuse, but again, Knight will want to built off of his heroic moment, as well as knock down shots to begin their next game against an up and down West Virginia team.
Looking Ahead to Friday: Indeed, the opening day of the tournament was exciting, but Friday promises to be even more enjoyable.
Games to watch: Michigan vs. Tennessee, Akron vs. Notre Dame, Villanova vs. George Mason, Georgetown vs. VCU and believe it or not, Kansas vs. Boston University.
While it is certainly is a long shot, one other game to certainly watch out for will be University North Carolina vs. Long Island, which could be a possible #15 vs. #2 upset, but most likely, the Tar Heels will win, so don’t get too excited Blackbird fans.