Each year the third Thursday in March marks the start of an exciting three weeks for college basketball fans. The opening day of the 2023 NCAA Tournament; provided fans with upsets and clutch shots in the final seconds, as it usually does. Here is a quick recap of Thursday’s action.
(4) Virginia vs. (13) Furman: The Paladins were on the right side of the first major upset as they took down the Cavaliers 68-67. Virginia had control of the ball and the lead with under ten seconds on the clock before a turnover gave Furman a chance to tie the game or take the led. Guard JP Pegues then hit a three-pointer with just two seconds on the clock to take a 68-67 lead and seal the improbable win for Furman. Virginia jumped out to an 8-0 start and led until there were just five minutes left. The loss for the Cavaliers against a much lower seed is not foreign to Tony Bennett, as Virginia has now lost to a double-digit seed three times in their last four trips to the big dance.
Photo Cred: ESPN
(2) Arizona vs (15) Princeton
The biggest upset of the day came in the South Region when Ivy League champion Princeton took down Arizona 59-55. The Wildcats averaged over 80 points scored per game this season but struggled to put points on the board on Thursday, scoring just 55. It was their lowest of the season. The Wildcats shot just 3-16 from three-point range in the defeat. Over 10% of brackets filled out on ESPN had the PAC-12 champions reaching the championship game. Tosan Evbuomwan was Princeton’s only scorer in double digits, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds on the way to victory. The Tigers will face Missouri in the round of 32 as they try to continue their tournament run.
Photo Cred: The Sacramento Kings
(5) Duke vs (12) Oral Roberts
The Blue Devils stayed hot on Thursday, defeating Oral Roberts 74-51 in Orlando. Duke closed as just six-point favorites against the 30-4 Golden Eagles. Max Abmas was held to just 12 points by the Blue Devil defense. The guard is the ninth leading scorer in the nation. Jeremy Roach led Duke with 23 points as Jon Scheyer won his first NCAA Tournament game as a head coach. Freshman Derrick Lively scored just four points but pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked six shots. Duke moves on to the second round and will face Tennessee on Saturday.
Photo Cred: CBS Sports
(1) Alabama vs. (16)Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Brandon Miller has been one of the best players in college basketball this season. He scored 0 of Alabama’s 96 points in a 96-75 win. The game showed that Alabama could score without much production from its star. Miller only played 19 minutes and shot the ball just five times. Nick Pringle came off the bench and posted 19 points and 15 rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. Alabama will look to keep its momentum going against Maryland in the second round.
Photo Cred: ESPN