2023 March Madness scores, takeaways: Alabama's path gets easier, Houston wins, but may have problems

Thursday's NCAA Tournament slate wasted no time providing college basketball fans with riveting theater as first-round action began with upsets, wild finishes and big-time performances. In total, 16 teams advanced while 16 were sent home, their time in the Big Dance cut short by the heartbreak of March.

No. 13 seed Furman knocked off No. 4 seed Virginia 68-67 while making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1980. The Paladins got a go-ahead 3-pointer from from JP Pegues with 2.2 seconds left after a confounding turnover from the Cavaliers. But that was only the beginning of the madness as No. 15 seed Princeton shocked No. 2 seed Arizona 59-55, marking this the third straight year in which a No. 15 seed has defeated a No. 2.

As for the No. 1 seeds, all three took care of business, and each produced important personnel notes. Alabama star freshman Brandon Miller played in the Crimson Tide's 96-75 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi but did not score as coach Nate Oats revealed after the game that Miller is dealing with a hamstring issue.

Meanwhile, Kansas beat Howard 96-68 without coach Bill Self, who is continuing his recovery from a health issue that forced him to miss last week's Big 12 Tournament. Self said that he's been back around the team but that he was "not ready to coach the game."

Houston survived a scare in its 63-52 win vs. Northern Kentucky, but played most of the game without leading scorer Marcus Sasser, who continues to be bothered by a groin injury. To make matters worse, Cougars coach told CBS Sports' Tracy Wolfson that starting point guard Jamal Shead is dealing a with a bad knee. 

"I'm very concerned," Sampson told Wolfson.

Here's the rundown from Thursday's first round action across a loaded day of March Madness action with a few takeaways featuring the SEC, which was 5-1 on Thursday, tying the record for most NCAA Tournament wins by a conference in a single day:

Alabama's path opens

It didn't take long for Alabama's path out of the South Region to open wide. It already looked like the easiest region in the bracket, and it only got easier Thursday as No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 4 seed Virginia were eliminated. No. 3 seed Baylor plays Friday and could also be at risk of an upset against No. 14 seed UC Santa Barbara, which nearly knocked off Creighton in a first-round game two years ago.

While a second-game with Maryland on Saturday will be no pushover -- especially if Miller is limited due to his hamstring issue -- the Crimson Tide have a smooth path to Houston.

Good Arkansas shows up

Looking ahead to the second round, Kansas could face a tough matchup with No. 8 seed Arkansas, which handled Illinois 73-63 on Thursday. The Razorbacks have been erratic this season while trying to piece together a roster full of freshmen and transfers, but they showed glimpses of their full potential against the Illini.

The Razorbacks forced 17 turnovers and turned those into 19 points while Ricky Council IV drilled 11 of 12 free throws while leading the team with 18 points. Arkansas is a poor 3-point shooting team -- as evidence by its 3 of 11 clip against Illinois -- but it's an athletic squad that can thrive in transition. If Kansas gets caught looking ahead to the Sweet 16 and the Razorbacks suddenly get hot from outside, they are capable of pulling a stunner on Saturday.

Missouri's turnaround continues

Just a year ago, Missouri finished 12-21 and ranked 309th nationally in scoring. Fast forward one year and the Tigers are marching into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 7 seed Tigers handled Utah State 76-65 while continuing to demonstrate an incredible offensive turnaround under first-year coach Dennis Gates.

Originally, it seemed as though Arizona would be Mizzou's potential second-round opponent. But with Princeton's stunning upset of the Wildcats, Missouri now has a great opportunity to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009. Beating Princeton won't be easy, but it's certainly a more desirable matchup than playing Arizona.

We'll be tracking all the mayhem here, so keep this page handy for updates and scores from the first round of the NCAA Tournament, one of the best sports days of the year.

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(8) Maryland 67, (9) West Virginia 65 -- Recap

(13) Furman 68, (4) Virginia 67 -- Upset Breakdown

(7) Missouri 76, (10) Utah State 65 -- Recap

(1) Kansas 96, (16) Howard 68 -- Recap

(1) Alabama 96, (16) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 75 -- Recap

(5) San Diego State 63, (12) Charleston 57 -- Recap

(15) Princeton 59, (2) Arizona 55 -- Upset Breakdown

(8) Arkansas 73, (9) Illinois 63 -- Recap

(9) Auburn 83, (8) Iowa 75 -- Recap

(5) Duke 74, (12) Oral Roberts 51 -- Recap

(2) Texas 81, (15) Colgate 61 -- Recap

(7) Northwestern 75, (10) Boise State 67 -- Recap

(1) Houston 63, (16) Northern Kentucky 52 -- Recap

(4) Tennessee 58, (13) Louisiana 55 -- Recap

(10) Penn State 76, (7) Texas A&M 59 -- Recap

(2) UCLA 86, (15) UNC Asheville 53 -- Recap

CBS Sports will be with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from every first round game on Thursday. Keep it locked here for scores, analysis and highlights throughout the evening.

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Penn State cruises

Final Penn State 76, Texas A&M 59

Penn State made 13 of 22 attempts from beyond the arc and throttled Texas A&M 76-59, sending the Aggies' season to a surprisingly quiet end. A&M finished second in the SEC and played its basketball over the past couple of months, lending credence to the idea that they were under-seeded as a No. 7 in this bracket. But they had no answer for Penn State today, particularly Andrew Funk, who scored 27 points on 8 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc. The Nittany Lions will face No. 2 seed Texas on Saturday.

March 17, 2023, 4:14 AM

UCLA balls out

Final: UCLA 86, UNC Asheville 53

UCLA learned from Pac-12 comrade Arizona and did not mess around with a No. 15 seed. The Bruins never trailed against UNC Asheville and never let off the gas on their way to an 86-53 victory. Amari Bailey and Jaime Jaquez scored 17 points apiece, and five Bruins reached double figures. UCLA scored 30 points off UNCA turnovers and won the battle of paint points 56-24, even without starting center Adem Bona, who was out due to a shoulder injury. The Bruins will play No. 7 seed Northwestern in the second round.

March 17, 2023, 4:09 AM

Tennessee survives

Final: Tennessee 58, Louisiana 55

No. 4 seed Tennessee nearly blew an 18-point lead in the second half against Louisiana, but the Volunteers survived thanks to their elite defense. The Vols did not make a shot from the floor for the final 5:31 and made just 12 of 21 free throws, but they built enough cushion early that they were able to withstand the ugly finish. Tyreke Key led Tennessee with 8 as the Vols advance to play No. 5 seed Duke on Saturday. The Blue Devils are hot, and Tennessee will need to be better offensively if it wants to have a shot in that game.

March 17, 2023, 3:52 AM

No. 1 seed Houston avoids upset

Final: Houston 63, Northern Kentucky 52

No. 1 seed Houston avoided falling into infamy Thursday by escaping upset-minded Northern Kentucky to advance to Round 2. The Cougars got a scare from NKU after leading scorer Marcus Sasser exited early with a nagging groin injury, but pulled away late behind a big second half from Emanuel Sharp. There are going to be lingering questions about Sasser and his health and how that relates to Houston's title chances, but a solid win to start the tourney for betting favorite Houston. 

March 17, 2023, 3:44 AM

Penn State starts hot

Halftime: Penn State 38, Texas A&M 22

Penn State hit 6 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, led by Andrew Funk's 4 of 5 clip as the Nittany Lions opened up a 38-22 lead on Texas A&M. The Aggies shot just 32% from the floor in the half and coughed up seven turnovers, leading to 13 PSU points. Julius Marble leads the Aggies with 8 points. It was a rough half for the Aggies, who scored just a pair in the paint. Penn State doesn't have much size, but the Aggies were not able to capitalize in the first half.

March 17, 2023, 3:06 AM

UCLA in command

Halftime: UCLA 46, UNC-Asheville 25

UCLA shot 59.4% from the floor in the first half and forced 12 turnovers against UNC-Asheville, which the Bruins converted to 22 points. Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 14 to lead the Bruins, who are playing without Adem Bona and Jaylen Clark. Bona is dealing with a shoulder injury, while Clark is expected to be done for the season with an Achilles injury. Impressive early showing for UCLA amid the absences. If UCLA hangs on, it will play Northwestern in the second round.

March 17, 2023, 3:01 AM

Marcus Sasser questionable to return vs. NKU

If Houston is going to pull away from Northern Kentucky, it may have to do so without Sasser. He played 14 minutes in the first half, but has reaggravated his groin injury. It was an uncomfortable first half for the 1-seed Cougars, and this is not the news they wanted to hear as they start the second half. 


Houston on edge at halftime

Halftime: Houston 30, Northern Kentucky 27

There are still 20 minutes to play, but the Norse of Northern Kentucky have to feel good about being down just three points against the top-seed Cougars. Houston is 1 of 9 from beyond the arc and has seven turnovers. Though Marcus Sasser was able to come off the bench as he continues to recover from a groin injury he suffered in the AAC Tournament, he has just five points. Houston was flat in its AAC Tournament title game loss to Memphis, and that hangover appears to have carried over to the first half of the first round tonight. Still plenty of basketball left, but the vibes need a check at halftime. 


Tennessee smothering Louisiana early

Half: Tennessee 30, Louisiana 19

Offense, as per usual, has been hard to come by the Vols, but it has mattered not early on as No. 4 seed Tennessee carries with it to halftime an 11-point advantage over No. 13 seed Louisiana. Tennessee made just three of its nine 3-point attempts but held the Ragin' Cajuns to 0-of-6 from 3-point range and 8-of-27 shooting from the floor. Tennessee doesn't play the most beautiful brand of basketball, but for it to advance in March, this is the exact style and pace in which it can do so and be a legitimate contender. 

March 17, 2023, 2:29 AM

Mountain West's rough showing continues

Final: Northwestern 75, Boise State 67

This is only NU's second NCAA tourney appearance, but like the first time in 2017, the Wildcats are moving on to the second round. Chris Collins' group held Boise State to 40% shooting and 6-of-23 from beyond the arc. If your two best players show up and show out, especially in the first weekend, that should mean you win. That's exactly what happened here: Boo Buie had 22 points, Chase Audige added 20 more. The Wildcats will play the winner of UCLA-UNC Asheville. As for Boise State, it's now 0-9 all time in the NCAAs. The Mountain West is 1-3 in this year's tournament and 1-12 as a conference in its last 13 Dance affairs. Everything rests on San Diego State vs. Furman on Saturday.


Texas marches on

Final: Texas 81, Colgate 61

Colgate made Texas work for it, but the No. 2 seed Longhorns rode hot 3-point shooting to an 81-61 win over the No. 15 seed Raiders. UT made 13 of 23 attempts from beyond the arc, highlighted by Sir'Jabari Rice's 23-point outburst on 7 of 10 from deep. Colgate drew within 66-57 with six minutes remaining, but the Longhorns promptly used an 11-0 run to retake command. Texas will play either Texas A&M or Penn State on Saturday in the second round.

March 17, 2023, 1:49 AM

Auburn has never lost a first-round game

Final: Auburn 83, Iowa 75

The Tigers were a trendy team to fade, but the joke's on all of us who auto-filled the second round with Iowa days ago. The Tigers are now 11-0 all time in first-round games of the Big Dance. Bruce Pearl's team had six in double figures, led by Johni Broome's 19 points. Iowa's defense was sieve-like in a few major portions of the game, which allowed Auburn to pull of 26 fast-break points. Fran McCaffery has still never made a Sweet 16 and is sub-.500 in the NCAAs. The Hawkeyes are due to lose Kris Murray to the draft and will undergo an overhaul. Meantime, Auburn continues to live in grand style: The selection committee gave this 9-seed room to set up shop in BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA. A geographic gift seldom afforded to a team seeded so low. 


Duke dominates

Final: Duke 74, Oral Roberts 51

Oral Roberts was a trendy upset pick entering the NCAA Tournament, but No. 5 seed Duke never struggled against the Golden Eagles, holding ORU to just 30.2% shooting. Jeremy Roach led Duke with 23 points while providing the type of veteran leadership from the backcourt that will be critical if the Blue Devils are going to make a deep run with such a young team. Duke has now won 10 straight and will face either Louisiana or Tennessee on Saturday. This marked an impressive start to first-year coach Jon Scheyer's NCAA Tournament resume.

March 17, 2023, 1:06 AM

Texas shooting well

Halftime: Texas 41, Colgate 32

No. 2 seed Texas is 8 of 15 from beyond the arc and has 15 points from Sir'Jabari Rice but isn't in the clear yet against No. 15 seed Colgate. The Raiders are outscoring Texas 18-14 in the paint and hanging around after falling behind 35-18 with 7:14 left in the half. Marcus Carr has nine for Texas as he and Rice are a combined 7 of 11 from beyond the arc. The winner of this game will play either Texas A&M or Penn State. Texas is looking to avoid becoming the second No. 2 seed to lose today after Arizona's stunning loss against Princeton earlier in the day.

March 17, 2023, 12:43 AM

Northwestern looking good

Halftime: Northwestern 38, Boise State 32

Northwestern led from start to finish in the first half against Boise State behind 11 points from Boo Buie and a 10- edge in second-chance points. The Broncos got 10 from Chibuzo Agbo in the half and 9 from Naje Smith to keep it close. Free throws also stood out as a key differentiator in the half as the Wildcats made 6 of 6 attempts while the Broncos missed their only free throw. BSU will need to match Northwestern's physicality in the second half to have a shot.

March 17, 2023, 12:27 AM

Duke rolling

Halftime: Duke 40, Oral Roberts 23

Duke came out of the gate at peak form on both ends of the floor, taking a 15-0 lead on Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles didn't score until the 11:56 mark and shot only 26.5% for the half. The Blue Devils got 13 points from Jeremy Roach and 10 from Dariq Whitehead in the half as Whitehead connected on both his 3-point attempts. Duke has been playing its best basketball recently, and it didn't seem like the freshmen were nervous on the big NCAA Tournament stage in the first half.

March 17, 2023, 12:00 AM

Auburn pacing Iowa in first half

Half: Auburn 31, Iowa 26

We've got ourselves a barn burner in the Midwest Region with No. 9 seed Auburn leading No. 8 seed Iowa at the half 31-26. Most importantly, the Tigers limited Hawkeyes star Kris Murray to four points on seven shots in what was a very impressive defensive half for the Tigers. 

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl at the half stated the obvious in recapping what he saw in an on-court interview with TNT.

"Iowa's a great offensive team. For us to hold them to just 26 points, that's really good," he said.

Auburn big man Johni Broome leads the Tigers with 8 points and 7 boards at the break. Allen Flanigan contributed 6 points and Wendell Green Jr. added 5 points. 

March 16, 2023, 11:45 PM

Hogs hang on after late push from Illinois

Final: Arkansas 73, Illinois 63

And so a weird season for the Illinois Fighting Illini comes to an end. Brad Underwood's had an NCAA Tournament-level team four years running, but no second-weekend appearances for Illinois since he got there. For Arkansas, a third straight year with at least a win in the NCAAs; Eric Musselman's team is trying to push for at least a third straight Elite Eight run. They'll face No. 1 Kansas on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa, and that stands to be a fascinating matchup. It could be argued Arkansas has more overall talent. A good sign for Arkansas: It won comfortably despite only six points from its future top-10 pick, Nick Smith Jr. Illinois' Terrence Shannon Jr. had a game-high 20. Arkansas again had its best player show up in a big spot: Ricky Council IV had 18 and 8, including this beauty:


Princeton pulls off rare 15-over-2 upset

Final: Princeton 59, Arizona 55

History in Sacramento! This game, this result, this moment is why we should NEVER change the format of the NCAA Tournament. The energy, tension, the perfect-ness of what went down. For the 11th time, a 15-seed has upset a 2-seed — and Arizona just became the first school to lose to a 15-seed twice. Almost 30 years ago to the day, 15-seed Santa Clara (with Steve Nash) upset 2-seed Arizona on the opening Thursday of the NCAAs. 

Even more poetic: Less than a year after the death of the greatest coach in Princeton history, the late, great Pete Carril's Tigers honored him with an all-time upset. Even better: One of his former players, Mitch Henderson, is the coach. Carril famously guided Princeton to an upset of UCLA in 1996, his final year of coaching. 

This also marks the first time a No. 15 has won an NCAA Tournament game three consecutive years. 

Arizona played arguably its worst game of the season, and Princeton's physicality won out — the Tigers had six blocks, while Arizona had one. Tigers big Tosan Evbuomwan had 15 points. Arizona's Azuolas Tubelis finished with a game-high 22 points. It's been a great afternoon session. Let's see what the night has in store!


San Diego State hangs on, snaps Mountain West drought 

Final: San Diego State 63, Charleston 57 

For a moment it looked like San Diego State was going to suffer the same fate as Virginia, losing to a double-digit seed in Orlando. But the Aztecs rode a stellar defensive performance to hang on for a win in the first round. The victory marks the first San Diego State win in the NCAA Tournament since Steve Fisher was the head coach and snaps an 11-game losing streak in the tournament for the Mountain West. Charleston was held to a season-low on points and shot 32% from the field and just 21% on 3-pointers, hitting just five of 24 attempts from the behind the arc. The Cougars rallied from a nine-point second half deficit and got the SDSU lead down to three with a minute left, but could not come up with the shots and stops needed in the final possessions. 

Of particular note was a couple free throws with 0.7 seconds left, after Charleston failed to score on a possession down four points and fouled Micah Parrish after he retained the defensive rebound. Parrish went to the line and nailed both, moving San Diego State's lead from four points to six. 

That's significant because the spread on the game was San Diego State favored by 5.5. Devastation for some, elation for others. 


Alabama wins by 21; Brandon Miller doesn't score

Final: Alabama 96, Texas A&M Corpus-Christi 75

The South's top-seeded team hit 14 3-pointers and cruised into the second round, where it will play No. 8 Maryland on Saturday. Alabama also had eight blocks vs. the Islanders. Ironically, freshman Brandon Miller had his first scoreless game in a Tide uniform. Miller played 19 minutes, was 0-of-5 from the field and had five rebounds alongside three assists. It was as quiet of a day as could be imagined for the freshman of the year frontrunner. Here's part of the reason why: Nate Oats said postgame that Miller's been "nursing a hamstring" that evidently became an issue in the SEC title game. Alabama's push through this tournament will continue to have the Miller/Jaden Bradley story be nearly as prominent as any on-court result. A tougher Terps tests awaits this weekend. 


Arkansas playing defense

Halftime: Arkansas 36, Illinois 26

Arkansas held Illinois to just 27.6% shooting in the first half while opening up a 10-point lead. Illinois committed nine turnovers, leading to a 13-7 edge in points off turnovers for the Razorbacks. Arkansas continued to struggle from beyond the arc, shooting just 1 of 5 from deep. But it made up for it in the first half with defense and paint points. Ricky Council IV leads Arkansas with 10 while Terrence Shannon Jr. leads Illinois with 8. The winner will play Kansas in the second round on Saturday. 

March 16, 2023, 9:27 PM

Arizona in trouble against Princeton 

Half: Arizona 31, Princeton 30 

One year after getting a 15-over-2 upset with Saint Peter's taking down Kentucky, could we have another small New Jersey school threatening a top team here in 2023? No. 2-seed Arizona has not been able to get stops consistently in the half court against the Tigers, and the Wildcats went scoreless for nearly four minutes prior to the halftime horn. Azuolas Tubelis has done his part, utilizing his size advantage to tally 14 points and four rebounds, but the rest of the team has 17 points combined and Kerr Kriisa is just 1 for 5 from the field. Princeton has had a much more well-balanced effort, and now it has 20 minutes to create NCAA Tournament history if it can pull off the upset. 


Another double-digit seed eyeing upset 

Half: San Diego State 32, Charleston 29 

12-seed Charleston took the floor in Orlando moments after Furman's epic upset of Virginia and immediately jumped out to an early lead against 5-seed San Diego State. But the Aztecs sustained the Cougars early punch, settled down offensively and put the clamps on defensively for the final minutes of the first half. San Diego State closed the half on a 15-5 run to erase Charleston's largest lead and take a three-point edge into halftime. With Nevada and Utah State already bounced from the tournament -- and Mountain West teams going 0-4 in 2022 -- San Diego State is hoping to avoid continued struggles for MWC teams in the NCAA Tournament.  


Alabama cruising

Half: Alabama 54, Texas A&M-Corpus-Christi 34

Alabama had no problem seizing control against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the first half, jumping out to a 54-34 edge entering the locker room behind 13 points from Mark Sears and 10 from Noah Clowney. Coach Nate Oats has already used 11 players in a display of his roster's unique depth. Brandon Miller didn't score for the Crimson Tide in the first half, but this team has still been really good even on days when Miller is quiet offensively. That trend helps explain why the Crimson Tide are the No. 1 overall seed.

March 16, 2023, 8:22 PM

No. 1 seed Kansas dominates

Final: Kansas 96, Howard 68

The first official test of a No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament was passed with flying colors on Thursday afternoon. No. 1 seed Kansas, the No. 3 overall team and the No. 1 seed in the West Region, dominated No. 16 seed Howard in a 96-68 win without the services of Hall of Fame coach Bill Self. The Jayhawks started slow in the first half but built a lead to 13 points by halftime and never looked back, leading wire-to-wire in the final 20 minutes. KU advances to second round, where it will face either No. 8 seed Arkansas or No. 9 seed Illinois. 

March 16, 2023, 8:03 PM

Missouri rolls

Final: Missouri 76, Utah State 65

D'Moi Hodge led Missouri with 23 points as the Tigers hit 10 of 25 attempts from 3-point range. Utah State entered as one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams but hit just 4 of 24 from beyond the arc. Missouri will advance to play either No. 2 seed Arizona or No. 15 seed Princeton in the second round on Saturday. First-year Mizzou coach Dennis Gates has done an incredible job in Year 1 after arriving from Cleveland State and inheriting a 12-21 team. The Tigers like to force turnovers and shoot 3-pointers. They did both well against USU as they also enjoyed a 23-9 edge in points off turnovers.

March 16, 2023, 7:51 PM

March Madness is officially here

(13) Furman 68, (4) Virginia 67

Furman pulled off the first upset of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday when the No. 13 seed Paladins stunned No. 4 seed Virginia 68-67 in a thriller in the South Region. Virginia committed a catastrophic turnover with under 10 seconds left while leading by two. The miscue led to a go-ahead 3-pointer from JP Pegues with 2.2 seconds left.

Virginia's Reece Beekman got off a shot at the buzzer for UVa, but it ricocheted off the backboard and rim as the Paladins rushed onto the court in celebration.

The win marks Furman's first in the NCAA Tournament since 1974 as the Paladins are making their first appearance in the Big Dance since 1980. Furman will play either No. 5 seed San Diego State or No. 12 seed Charleston in the second round on Saturday.

March 16, 2023, 6:53 PM

Maryland escapes

Final: Maryland 67, West Virginia 65

As expected, the first game of the tournament turned into dramatic affair as Maryland escaped with a 67-65 win over West Virginia. Kedrian Johnson had a potential game-winning shot for the Mountaineers at the buzzer, but it missed. The Terrapins will advance to play No. 1 seed Alabama on Saturday. Julian Reese led Maryland with 17 points, and Hakim Hart added 15.

March 16, 2023, 6:47 PM

Alabama coming soon

The No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament is Alabama, and the Crimson Tide will be in action shortly against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. But there is a significant off-court controversy following the team into the Big Dance after a deadly January shooting that resulted in capital murder charges against now-former player Darius Miles. At least two other Crimson Tide players were at the scene, including star freshman Brandon Miller, who drove the gun to the scene of the shooting. But in spite of the scrutiny, Alabama has regained its form on the court, trying to rewrite an ugly narrative that will follow the team as far as it goes in the tournament.

March 16, 2023, 6:35 PM
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