Several games stood out among the rest on Thursday, day one of the NCAA Tournament. We'll start with the game that has become somewhat of a tradition in the tourney: the 12 vs. 5 upset.
VCU over Wichita State
12th-seeded VCU knocked off No. 5 Wichita State, 62-59, in a second-round game in Portland. Newsflash: This is not an upset, at least not according to Hoops Scoops. The Rams (29-6) won their 29th game against a very talented Wichita State squad.
Sure, this isn’t the same VCU team that went to the Final Four last year, but Rams coach Shaka Smart is a proven recruiter and winner, so this latest win shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. But Rams forward Bradford Burgess wants everyone to know this is a new team.
“This is a new year with new players and a new label on ourselves,” said Burgess. “We just wanted to come out and bring a new identity.”
Murray State underseeded
Talk about getting something dead wrong. Many in the media hit the NCAA Selection Committee hard for slapping Murray State with a six seed. The Racers proved the Committee wrong with a 58-41 throttling of Colorado State. Colorado State hung around in the first half, but couldn’t hit anything in the second half.
The Racers held one of Colorado State’s top scorers Dorian Green (13.1) to zero points and five turnovers. It’s still a mystery why a team that gets 30 victories, including triumphs over Southern Miss, Memphis, Dayton and St. Mary’s would be seeded sixth, but the Racers (31-1) will get a chance to prove the Committee wrong again on Saturday when they take on No. 3 Marquette.
No. 4 Louisville tames No. 13 Davidson
This was one of Hoops Scoops upset specials. We figured if Davidson could somehow get Louisville sophomore center Gorgui Dieng in foul trouble, it would have a good chance. Dieng got in foul trouble, but it still resulted in a Louisville win. Dieng played just 19 minutes, but still had nine points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Davidson played uncharacteristically bad. The Wildcats led the nation in free throw shooting, but shot just 69 percent from the line. Davidson, normally a good three-point shooting team, shot just 4-for-19 from the arc. Give Louisville credit, Rick Pitino’s crew played some great defense and moves on.
Syracuse gets “lucky”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said luck had nothing to do with its 72-65 win over UNC-Asheville. He also said the absence of Fab Melo didn’t play a factor in Syracuse’s play. Maybe he’s right on both issues, but some bad officiating certainly had an impact on the game. A non-goaltending call in the first half, a lane violation call against Asheville and a terrible out of bounds call late in the second played a big role in Syracuse’s victory.
"The out of bounds is not reviewable and it is not a play we would discuss," official Ed Corbett told a pool reporter. "I'm not going to comment further because it is a judgment call. It was a clear [lane] violation. The player released early, before the ball hit the rim. We've since watched the replay 20 times and it was the right call."
The missed calls didn’t sit well with anyone from Asheville. “It’s tough when things don’t go your way…In college basketball sometimes you have to play everyone in the building,” said Asheville guard J.P. Primm.”
The Asheville coaching staff was in agreement.
“Syracuse is better than Asheville,” said Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. “But tonight Asheville was better than Syracuse.”
Colorado knocking off UNLV was definitely a big deal. The PAC-12 had been ridiculed all season and was dealt the ultimate disrespect when regular season champ Washingon was denied entry into the NCAA Tournament.
UConn getting ousted by Iowa State isn't as much of a shock as some are making it out to be. Although Hoops Scoops thought UConn had a chance to make some waves, Jim Calhoun's crew was way too inconsistent.
Fourth-seeded Indiana proved it can win away from home after handling No. 13 New Mexico State, 79-66.