Things we learned from Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament

-Dayton is Ohio’s Team. OK, maybe not yet, but the Flyers did knock out Ohio State in the first and quite possibly the most entertaining game of the day. 6-4 guard Vee Sanford skied over Aaron Craft and KISSED it off the glass for the game-winner (Raftery loved it). The celebration was madness. You know that Dayton’s kids, including Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert, were thrilled to send the Buckeyes home.

-Amida Brimah saved UConn’s season. When UConn took the ball down three with 20 seconds left in regulation, you could have given me 58 guesses as to what was going to happen and I wouldn’t have gotten that Brimah grabbed a rebound, cashed a ridiculous turnaround floater and got fouled. Then, in the most stunning plot twist of all, he made the free throw! It was an incredible finish for the Huskies, who trailed for most of the game and probably should have lost.

The game really turned when Halil Kanacevic fouled out for Saint Joe’s early in overtime. Kanacevic looked a lot like former Saint Mary’s great Omar Samhan, whose nifty footwork, passing skills and touch around the basket made him a tournament hero. It was a treat to watch him play.

-North Dakota State is a Sweet 16 team. The Bison looked downright impressive in their win over Oklahoma, leading the game most of the way and taking control in overtime. Guard Lawrence Alexander  hit the biggest shot in North Dakota State history when he tied the game with a three with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation. He scored an unlikely 28 points on 10-0f-15 shooting (he averages 10 ppg), and picked up teammate Taylor Braun on the way to the Bisons’ 80-75 OT win.

Given that San Diego State didn’t play very well in its overtime win over New Mexico State, there’s no doubt that the road is open for the Bison to get to the Sweet 16.

-Texas wins at the buzzer. Cameron Ridley scored on a put-back at the buzzer in perhaps the most exciting finish of all of the Day 1 games. Texas survived a late rally by Arizona State and should give a young Michigan team all it wants in the Round of 32.

-Louisville survived Manhattan. Teacher barely edged out pupil, as Rick Pitino beat his protege and former ball boy, Steve Masiello, in an incredibly well-played game. Manhattan had a real chance to pull what would have been the biggest upset of Round 1, but late threes by Luke Hancock and Russ Smith saved the defending champs.

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