Thu Mar 19 02:54pm EDT
It's the first batch of games on the first day of the NCAA tournament's
first round, and already, the insanity is setting in. We have Cal
St.-Northridge to thank for that.
The No. 15-seeded Matadors pushed Memphis, the tournament's most vaunted No. 2 seed, for a full 40 minutes. They forced Memphis into early foul trouble. They hit awkward shot after awkward shot. They were incredibly efficient in the first half. They got Memphis into foul trouble, and their zone forced the Tigers to launch threes for much of the first half. You couldn't dream up a better beat-Memphis gameplan.
Really, only one player saved Memphis from total first round obliteration: Roburt Sallie. Sallie's previous career high was 13; today, he scored 35 points. He made three after three in the first half when, without him, the Tigers would have fallen far behind. And in the closing moments he hit two big threes to seal the game and the win -- and the bracket-busting fear that momentarily gripped every Memphis backer in the country.
The afternoon's other early games were slightly less thrilling. LSU jumped out to an early 11-3 lead against the less-athletic No. 8 seed Butler and held off a second half Bulldog run to seal the 75-71 win. Likewise, Texas A&M built an early 11-3 lead over BYU and never looked back, winning 79-66 and completely destroying my BYU-over-UConn second round upset. Thanks, A&M.
Up next: No. 1 seeds UNC and UConn play Radford and Chattanooga, respectively, while No. 7 Cal plays No. 10 Maryland in the West Regional and No. 5 Purdue will look to fend off MVC champs Northern Iowa. (They're succeeding so far -- it's 16-6.) Those three games aren't even good, and I'm jacked. Good Lord, this tournament rules.