Held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY, all day Friday, March the 18th, the first round of the NCAA Tournament was quite the crazy one. This set of games featured a blowout from Villanova against UNC Asheville, an upset for Temple from Iowa, an underdog victory from Stephen F. Austin against West Virginia, and a comeback victory by Notre Dame against Michigan. All four games had the whole arena on their feet as brackets were accomplished and but also messed up.
Villanova vs. UNC Asheville
Starting off slow in the first half of the first NCAA Tournament Round 1 game in Brooklyn, Villanova hit four treys as part of a 18-4 run before the half to gain a 14-point lead over UNC Asheville, which led then led to an 86-56 win. Senior Daniel Ochefu led the Wildcats with a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Ryan Arcidiacono added 14. As a whole, Villanova shot 56.9% from the floor and forced the Bulldogs into 14 turnovers.
UNC Asheville entered the tournament as one of the nation’s top teams in steal percentage, defensive three-point percentage, and defensive turnover percentage, but that wasn’t quite enough to gain a victory against Villanova.
Villanova will play No. 7 Iowa on Sunday as they look to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since they reached the Final Four in 2009.
Temple vs. Iowa
One rebound by 7-foot-1 Adam Woodbury gave Iowa a 72-70 victory against Temple Friday afternoon. The Hawkeyes entered the tournament loosing six of their last eight games and loosing five of their last six NCAA tournament games.
With the score tied at 70, Mike Gesell made his way to the baseline and shot a jumper that had missed the rim and went right to Woodbury. Iowa had the chance at the game-winner when of Temple player Daniel Dingle, who played only six minutes and was only in the game because Devin Coleman had fouled out a minute earlier, missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa with 23 points while Peter Jok had 16 and Woodbury finished with 10. Quenton DeCosey, of the Owls, made three free throws with only 2.1 seconds left to tie the game and had 26 points. Iowa started the game off by making 6 of 9 3-point attempts with a 28-18 lead. Temple closed the half on a 17-6 run to cut Iowa’s lead to 38-37.
With 5 minutes left in regulation, Iowa led 61-53. Anthony Clemmons made one of two free throws with 1:08 left in overtime play to give Iowa a 70-68 lead. Josh Brown’s drive tied the game with 50 only seconds left. Iowa was able to rebound two misses before Dingle went to the free throw line.
The Owls, leading the nation in turnovers at 9.2 per game, finished the game with 12. Iowa only had three with the first happening with only five minutes left in the game.
Iowa will play Villanova on Sunday in the second round.
Stephen F. Austin vs. West Virginia
No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin fought hard against West Virginia on their way to a win over the No. 3-seeded Mountaineers in the NCAA tournament. Over the past couple of seasons, West Virginia has been made up of a few several things: forcing turnovers, offensive rebounding, scoring in transition and getting to the free throw line.
Friday night, Stephen F. Austin forced 22 turnovers, turned them into 29 points, and achieved a 70-56 upset against West Virginia. The Lumberjacks got to the free throw line 39 times. They rank No. 1 in defensive turnover percentage and West Virginia rank 4th in the country in personal fouls per game. West Virginia gained momentum in the second half, but Stephen F. Austin gained confidence every time it broke the Mountaineers’ pressure.
Thomas Walkup was the best player on the court Friday night and teammate Brad Underwood made sure he got the ball on every possession. Walkup finished with 33 points, with only 15 shot attempts, going 19-of-20 from the free throw line. He also had nine rebounds and four assists. West Virginia didn’t have the strength to beat Stephen F. Austin and sure did not have an answer for Walkup.
The Lumberjacks will play Notre Dame in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament in Brooklyn on Sunday.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan
After a terrible first half and being careless with the ball, Notre Dame pulled through and the Fighting Irish made a huge comeback to defeat Michigan Friday night in Brooklyn with a 70-63 victory.
Notre Dame, which led the nation in turnovers for a good amount of time this season, finished with 16 turnovers, almost double the Fight Irish regular season average of 9.7. The Wolverines turned those into 19 points. This was the fourth straight game that Notre Dame had double figures in turnovers.
V.J. Beacham scored 18 points, finishing 7 for 7 from the field and making all four of his 3-point attempts. He also made the 3-pointer that gave the Irish the lead for good as they rallied to win. Notre Dame didn’t take a lead in the game until Beacham’s 3 with only 9:26 left to make it 51-48. Michigan took over the first half with a 41-29 lead. Notre Dame scored the first eight points of the second half to get within 41-37.
Bonzie Colson had 12 points for Notre Dame with the final minutes of the game being his time to shine. He blocked a huge shot with just under 2 minutes left to play and converted a rebound for a 66-61 lead with only 1:35 to go. He then finished the game with two free throws that made it 68-63 with 11 seconds left to play. Zach Auguste had 10 points and 12 rebounds for Notre Dame.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkam had 15 points for Michigan with Derrick Walton Jr. having 10 points and eight assists.
Notre Dame will play their next game in the NCAA Tournament against Stephen F. Austin on Sunday in the second round.
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