And now, finally, an answer to one of the biggest questions as the men’s NCAA tournament kicked off Thursday: What the heck is a paladin?
It turns out to be a heartthrob. In particular, it’s a heartthrob for the Virginia Cavaliers.
In all seriousness, a paladin is a knight often known for honor and heroism.
Maybe they should get credit for a good defense, too.
The 13th seeded Paladins of Furman stole the show on Day 1, beating Virginia 68-67 in fourth place in a wild finish that gave us our first big upset of the day. A few hours later, No. 15 Princeton joined the party, knocking out No. 2 Arizona.
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That’s what we want on day one of Madness: brackets breaking across the country and double-digit seeds shocking everyone (except yourself, at least if you’re Princeton).
MEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:Complete the 2023 NCAA Men’s tournament schedule, results and times
But other top seeds looked dominant – that’s how they should look, especially in their first-round games. All of this comes together to offer an intriguing second round. But first we have a full day of first-round matches, which can create even more chaos.
For now, here are the winners and losers of Day 1.
There’s nothing like a excitement – or two!
First, in the Virginia-Furman game, senior Kihei Clark panicked a dangerous cross-court pass as the final seconds of the game came to an end. That pass was intercepted by Furman’s Garrett Hien, who kicked it to JP Pegues, who had missed his three previous attempts from distance. Pegues calmly buried the 3 and went up to 68-67. After a time out, Virginia’s game-winning attempt was over.
Then, in Arizona-Princeton, the Wildcats went stone cold in the final 4:43 (0 to 7) as Princeton scored an improbable 59-55 excitement. Arizona missed numerous shots it could have won in the closing minutes, and Princeton iced the win with free throws. It’s the third year in a row that a 15 has beaten a 2.
Trailing by 13 points in the first half, the Terrapins looked half asleep in the first game of the day. They came back with 17 points and nine rebounds from second forward Julian Reese, beating West Virginia 67-65. The win propelled Maryland into the second round, where the Terps will face No. 1 overall pick Alabama. In a back-and-forth slugfest – the game featured nine draws and eleven lead changes – points in the suit (34-24 Maryland) were the difference.
The Terps need to start and play a lot better to match Tide on Saturday, but clinching a win and coming from behind should give them confidence. This is especially important considering how poorly Maryland has played away from home this season (5-11 on Thursday).
A look at Thursday’s dominance of the 2-seeded Bruins: At one point late in the first half, UCLA had made more shots (16) than UNC Asheville’s attempts (15). That didn’t end up being the case, but it was still an impressive 86-53 blitz. The Bruins scored 30 points fewer than Asheville Turnover and dominated the boards 40-25. All five starters scored 10 points or more, with the exception of Tyger Campbell – he had seven points but gave out 10 assists.
In a tough day for the ACC (see Virginia), the Blue Devils were unchallenged in their 74-51 win over Oral Roberts. One of the best teams in the country in the closing weeks of the regular season, the Blue Devils shot 48.4% from the field and dominated the rebound fight (46-32). Led by Jeremy Roach’s 23 points (in just 17 shots), Duke takes on No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday.
The best freshman in the country and perhaps the best player in the country had a tough first NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-9 forward, a likely NBA lottery pick despite controversy swirling around him, went off the field 0-5 in 19 minutes and finished the game with five rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. The overall No. 1 seed still rode to a win without him, but Miller’s game will be crucial going forward.
Man alive, there was a nasty gunfight on Thursday. An amazing 19 of 32 teams in action shot 43% or less from the field, with 11 teams shooting under 40% – and some of those teams won! None was worse than Northern Kentucky, which shot just off the field at 27.5%.
Teams missed easy shots, made bad shots, and missed badly on all types of shots. Defense is great, but so is when the ball goes through the net. We hope Friday’s games will be nicer all around.
Sure, the No. 1 seeded Cougars won 63-52. But the decision to play All-American guard Marcus Sasser just days after suffering a serious groin injury has everyone rightly questioning it.
Sasser, originally injured in the semifinals of the AAC tournament last week, is key to the Cougars’ title hopes. After injuring himself again in the first half against Northern Kentucky, he didn’t see the ground again in the second half. Did the cougars just taste themselves?
Trivia: What Happened to Basketball in Virginia on March 16th? When you say, “You made history,” you’re right. It wasn’t a good story – and this year history repeated itself. This is becoming a jinxed date for UVA.
On March 16, 2018, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament. Exactly five years to the day, UVA botched another game in which they were the clear favourite. What’s worse is how it happened. Tony Bennett’s teams are usually disciplined and smart, so losing to an extremely stupid pass is tough.
Virginia has not won an NCAA tournament game since the 2019 title run, having lost twice in the first round since then.