Friday's first-round NCAA Tournament action delivered everything a college basketball fan could ask for from the first weekend of the Big Dance. While No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson's stunning upset of No. 1 seed Purdue stood out from a jam-packed day of action, it was hardly the only drama.
No. 3 seed Xavier needed a late rally to avoid a shocking loss to No. 14 seed Kennesaw State, and No. 5 seed Miami also had to mash the gas pedal in the closing minutes to overcome No. 12 seed Drake. In the late-night window, No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic escaped with a dramatic win over No. 8 seed Memphis and No. 6 seed TCU got a late bucket to escape a late charge from Arizona State. A few big-name programs also began their tournament journeys with solid results.
No. 2 seed Marquette and No. 3 seed Baylor each cruised to double-digit victories, and blue-blood programs Kentucky and Michigan State also emerged with wins. The No. 6 seed Wildcats dominated No. 11 seed Providence on the glass in a 61-53 win while No. 7 seed Michigan State got 17 points from Joey Hauser in a 72-62 victory over USC.
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Here are a few more takeaways from Friday's first-round action.
No No. 12s win
At least one No. 12 seed had defeated a No. 5 seed in 31 of the past 36 NCAA Tournaments entering this week. But this season marked the rare year in which every No. 5 seed escaped upset. On Thursday, No. 5 seed Duke crushed Oral Roberts, and San Diego State handled Charleston.
Then, on Friday, Saint Mary's stifled VCU and Miami rallied from a late deficit to defeat Drake. The Bulldogs led 55-47 with under six minutes to play but couldn't close the deal against the Hurricanes, who outscored Drake 16-1 to close the game with a 63-56 win.
There were plenty of other major upsets in the first round this season, but none of them came from the fabled No. 12-seed line.
Pitt finally advances again
After a decade of frustration, Pittsburgh is dancing past the first round of the NCAA Tournament again. The Panthers crushed No. 6 seed Iowa State 59-41 after taking out Mississippi State in a First Four game on Wednesday. Fifth-year coach Jeff Capel entered this season squarely on the hot seat but is up to 24 victories on the season now.
The Panthers will play a Xavier team in the second round that is coming off a narrow victory over Kennesaw State on Friday. There is a precedent of teams coming from the First Four and making a run. UCLA (2021) and VCU (2011) each made the Final Four after playing in the First Four, and Syracuse (2018), Tennessee (2018) and La Salle (2013) reached the Sweet 16 after playing in the First Four. The Panthers will have a shot to build on that legacy of success.
Saint Mary's validates seeding
Saint Mary's resided near the top of most college basketball rankings throughout the season. The Gaels and their slow, defensive-oriented style made them the darling of computer models and advanced analytics gurus. But their lofty standing in various metrics stood juxtaposed with non conference losses against Washington, New Mexico and Colorado State, none of whom reached the NCAA Tournament.
While Saint Mary's shared the WCC regular-season crown with Gonzaga, it ended up losing its season series against the Zags by falling to them in the WCC Tournament title game. Long story short, Saint Mary's needed to provide some validation for its No. 5 seed, and that's exactly what it did Friday in a defensively dominant 63-51 win over No. 12 seed VCU.
The next step for the Gaels will be reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010. Friday's performance was a start, but beating UConn is what will truly open some eyes around the country as to how strong a program Randy Bennett has built at Saint Mary's
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- (7) Michigan State 72, (10) USC 62 -- Watch Izzo snap whiteboard in half
- (3) Xavier 72, (14) Kennesaw State 67 -- Recap
- (3) Baylor 74, (14) UC Santa Barbara 56 -- Recap
- (5) Saint Mary's 63, (12) VCU 51 -- Recap
- (2) Marquette 78, (15) Vermont 61 -- Recap
- (11) Pittsburgh 59, (6) Iowa State 41 -- Crooked rims doom 'Clones
- (6) Creighton 72, (11) NC State 63 -- Recap
- (4) UConn 87, (13) Iona 63 -- Sanogo goes off in historic performance
- (16) Fairleigh Dickinson 63, (1) Purdue 58 -- Knights make history in upset
- (11) Kentucky 61, (6) Providence 53 -- Recap
- (5) Miami 63, (12) Drake 56 -- Recap
- (3) Gonzaga 82, (14) Grand Canyon 70 -- Recap
- (9) FAU 66, 8) Memphis 65 -- Recap
- (3) Kansas State 77, (14) Montana State 65 -- Recap
- (4) Indiana 71, (13) Kent State 60 -- Recap
- (6) TCU 72, (11) Arizona State 70 -- Recap
CBS Sports will be with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from every first-round game on Friday. Keep it locked here for scores, analysis and highlights throughout the evening.