March Madness 2022 is here, and we are firmly on the road to the Final Four in New Orleans. The men's NCAA tournament's first day was full of upsets, overtimes and more than its share of clutch performances.
We've already got three potential Cinderella teams, as New Mexico State, Richmond and Saint Peter's all knocked off their far-more-heralded competition on the first day. The No. 1-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs (who Caesars Sportsbook has as the betting favorite) and the Baylor Bears took care of business, so we'll have to wait until Friday's games to see if anyone can pull a UMBC.
NCAA tournament Friday schedule (all times ET)
Murray State's OT thriller
Gotta hand it to the San Francisco Dons -- they made things extremely interesting in this 10-7 matchup, with Jamaree Bouyea nailing a clutch 3 to tie it with 19 seconds remaining in the second half. The two teams then traded the lead back and forth in overtime before Murray State finally pulled away on a KJ Williams jumper. Just the last in a series of exceptional finishes on the first day of the 2022 NCAA tournament.
UCLA, Arkansas avoid upsets
UCLA and Arkansas, both 4-seeds, looked very vulnerable in their first-round matchups against 13-seeds Akron and Vermont, respectively. UCLA had to engineer a comeback against Akron that included a 15-4 run in the final minutes, while Arkansas had to hold off a furious late charge by Vermont. On this first day of upsets, the Bruins and Razorbacks survived and advanced.
The Mountain West's bad day
It was a resurgent season for the Mountain West, which placed four teams in the men's bracket for the first time since 2013 and was primed to make some noise on the first weekend.
About that ...
Twelve-seed Wyoming's loss to Indiana Tuesday in the First Four preceded Thursday losses for three better seeds -- No. 6 Colorado State (vs. No. 11 Michigan), No. 8 Boise State (vs. No. 9 Memphis) and No. 8 San Diego State (vs. Creighton). The Mountain West finished the 2022 NCAA tournament with an 0-4 record and technically didn't even reach the first weekend.
Does the showing diminish the rest of the season?
"I don't think so," Colorado State coach Niko Medved said. "That will be the narrative, but I understand that. It's funny, in the tournament everything is put into one game. It's not the NBA where you play a five-game series or best-of-seven; it's one game. You can get defined by that. ... But the Mountain West has been phenomenal this year."
"I just think that's the flavor of the week," San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said of the idea that the conference had somehow failed to live up to its promise. "Last year was the Big Ten, right now it's the Mountain West and tomorrow after the games it might be someone else. That's March Madness."
The MW is now 0-8 in the tournament since Nevada made a run to the 2018 Sweet 16 under then-coach Eric Musselman.
Saint Peter's pulls off the 15-2 upset
PEACOCKS. WIN. pic.twitter.com/Jf10r5zyb4— Saint Peter's Athletics (@SPUAthletics) March 18, 2022
We've got our first humongous upset of the tournament as the Kentucky Wildcats fell to the Saint Peter's Peacocks 85-79 in overtime. The Peacocks finished their season on a two-game losing streak, but matched the Wildcats shot for shot in the first round, finally pulling ahead for good with a 14-8 overtime. It's the first NCAA tournament win in the school's history, and it was a big one -- only the 10th time in history a 15-2 upset has happened in the men's bracket.
Another 5-seed falls
That's the tweet pic.twitter.com/D62zY9eL7d— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) March 18, 2022
New Mexico State has joined Richmond in pulling off a 12-5 upset, as the Aggies knocked off the UConn Huskies 70-63. The Aggies were powered by guard Teddy Allen, who put up 37 points on 10-24 shooting to go with six rebounds. Allen scored more than half of New Mexico State's points and was the only Aggie in double digits.
IU cheerleader saves the day
Incredible scene in the game between Indiana and St. Mary's: After an unsuccessful attempt to get a stuck ball down from the backboard, two Hoosiers cheerleaders stepped up to save the day, with a legendary call from Andrew Catalon.
Gonzaga puts a stop to Georgia State's upset bid
With 13:10 remaining in the second half, No. 16 Georgia State went up 54-52 on No. 1 Gonzaga and it looked like things were about to get awful exciting. Then Gonzaga scored seven unanswered points, and the rout was on, with the final score ending up 93-72. Drew Timme had a game, with 32 points and 13 rebounds, while Bulldogs center Chet Holmgren also put on a clinic, with 19 points, 17 rebounds and 7 blocks.
Richmond has the first 12-5 upset
Never will. https://t.co/xIhJN70tyX— Richmond Basketball (@SpiderMBB) March 17, 2022
Richmond entered the Atlantic 10 tournament with a 3-4 record in its previous seven games and two weeks removed from a 20-point loss at VCU. March, man. March.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 17, 2022
Welcome to the Spiders' web, Iowa.
After limping into the A-10 tournament, Richmond has the first major upset of the NCAA tournament, taking out the Big Ten champion Hawkeyes.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, this is just the third time that the Big Ten tournament champion has lost its opening game in the NCAA tournament. Michigan State lost its NCAA tourney opener in 2016.
Vols make a big statement
Tennessee, the No. 3 seed in the South Region, came out hot and never relented in a big win over Longwood. The Volunteers scored 54 points in the first half. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that's their most points in any half this season and the most in the first half of a tournament game since 2007.
Led by Santiago Vescovi's 18 points, Tennessee had five players score in double figures.
Drew Timme time
Gonzaga, the No. 1 overall seed, faces Georgia State. The Zags are trying to make it to the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
Welcome back, Emoni Bates
Memphis' freshman star had been sidelined since January with a back injury; this was Bates' only score of the game for Memphis. The Tigers got 14 points from DeAndre Williams to take out Boise State 64-53. The win gives Tigers coach Penny Hardaway his first NCAA tournament win as a coach.
Providence pulls it out
If you had South Dakota State pulling the upset then your hopes of maintaining a perfect bracket have been thwarted. The Friars secured the win on the heels of Al Durham. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the guard is just the second Providence player with at least 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in an NCAA tournament game since assists became an official stat in 1984 (Bryce Cotton in 2014).
Durham scored or assisted on 29 of the Friars' 66 points on Thursday (44%).
Can we get a go blue? The Michigan Wolverines become the first team to secure a spot in the second round -- and the first to complete a 15-point comeback in the NCAA tournament since Nevada in 2018 (h/t ESPN Stats & Information) -- with their win over the Colorado State Rams.
Big East stand up. The Friars are on a roll as they extend their second-half lead. Six different Providence players have made a 3-pointer so far, which is a school record for an NCAA tournament game per ESPN Stats & Information data.
Rose is hyped
Jalen Rose is all Michigan fans right now. The Wolverines stormed back to erase their first-half deficit -- much to the delight of one of their esteemed alumni in attendance.
Entering Thursday's game, Colorado State is 18-1 when leading at the half this season. As for Michigan? It is 3-9 when trailing at the half this season. But nobody needs to tell Rose.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, a Michigan win from 15 points down would be the largest NCAA tournament comeback since Nevada overcame a 22-point deficit against Cincinnati in the 2018 round of 32.
No look, no problem
Baylor Scheierman made that look too easy.
In the first half, Scheierman and Douglas Wilson combined for 18 points (8-17 FG) and four assists. Meanwhile, the rest of the Jackrabbits' roster combined for five points (2-10 FG) and two assists.
It's time to slam now
Chandler Jacobs has ups, can confirm. The CSU guard came through with the steal and the stuff as the Rams lead the Wolverines late in the first half.
Despite the current score, history favors Michigan fans: The Big Ten is 7-1 all time against the Mountain West in the NCAA tournament.