NCAA Tournament 2018: Arizona's loss, 15 more things to know of Thursday's madness
Buffalo busted brackets to cap a day with thrilling finishes and more
The first full day of 2018 NCAA Tournament action got off to a tremendous start Thursday, with Rhode Island besting Oklahoma in overtime. At the moment, there was a concern that we were getting our best game of the day right out of the gate. That was not the case after half of the 16 games played involved either upsets, clutch winning plays in back-and-forth games or some combination of the two. Arguably the most impactful result was Arizona losing by 21 to Buffalo, but it was far from the only headline on a full first day of first-round action.
Sixteen things to know as we head into Friday and look ahead to the weekend:
1. A popular Final Four contender was bounced: Arizona was picked to beat Buffalo in 92.8 percent of the entries on CBS Sports Bracket Games, picked to advance to the Final Four in 18.1 percent. Just over four percent of fans' brackets lost their champion when Buffalo ran over and away from the Pac-12 champions Thursday night in Boise, Idaho.
There's going to be a lot to unpack in the weeks ahead regarding the Arizona program, this season in the Pac-12 and the future of Sean Miller in Tucson, but the immediate impact is that the South Regional just much more manageable for Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Arizona showed up flat, wasn't able to get Deandre Ayton the ball inside and allowed Buffalo to get pretty much whatever it wanted offensively.
Ayton's absence is everyone's loss, but let's not lose track of Buffalo's incredible performance in this game. Loose, fearless and shooting lights out from the field and deep, the Bulls could be a problem for Kentucky on Saturday.
2. Kentucky held off Davidson's upset bid without hitting a single 3-pointer: The Wildcats went 0 for 6 from beyond the arc against Davidson, which . It was the longest active streak in the country, which dated all the way back to Nov. 26, 1988.
3. Game of the day -- Rhode Island-Oklahoma: Nothing seems to come easy for Rhode Island. The Rams just couldn't put Trae Young and Oklahoma away, even having a potential winner at the end of regulation fall just inches short.
Is there a more thrilling way to head OT? pic.twitter.com/5WmqdjWrv8— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 15, 2018
E.C. Matthews would step up with some huge buckets in overtime that gave Rhode Island a lead it would carry to the 83-78 win, a victory that was highlighted not only by the back-and-forth nature of the game bus specifically by the Rams' defense against Young. Freshman gaurd Fatts Russell was a pest against the Oklahoma superstar, who still managed to get his with 28 points and be the key to the Sooners forcing overtime.
4. What's next for Trae Young? Matt Norlander reported from the scene in Pittsburgh,and how his Oklahoma legacy will be remembered.
5. Clutch shot of the day -- Loyola-Chicago over Miami: The Ramblers had the best upset until Buffalo, but the Bulls' blowout lacked the drama, excitement and we got from Loyola over Miami.
6. The connection between the days' two biggest shots: Reid Forgrave comes through with a great connection you might have missed: Loyola-Chicago's Donte Ingram and Gonzaga's Zach Norvell, both heroes after hitting winners in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, were .
7. Rob Gray has the potential to be one of this year's tournament heroes: After a long journey that included two years of junior college, Houston guard Rob Gray is flourishing on college basketball's biggest stage. Gray had a career-high 39 points in Houston's win against San Diego State, coming up with all of the big shots for the Cougars in the 67-65 victory, including the winner with just seconds left on the clock.
"I missed so many free throws, I knew I had to get it back for my teammates, for the city, for the alumni, for everybody that's associated with our program," Gray said. "As I was dribbling the clock out, I was trying to stay composed and just think back to all the days where I was watching March Madness. I'm from North Carolina, watching the Tar Heels. This is what I live for."
Gray, a native of Forest City, North Carolina, will lead Houston against Michigan in the next round. With another huge performance he could end up facing those Tar Heels in the Sweet 16. Dennis Dodd was on the scene for it all and writes about how .
9. Dunk of the day --: A 360-degree alley-oop is about as insane it's going to get in tournament play (or even live game action).
11. Most impressive performance by a high seed: Tennessee. The Vols were physical and dominant in their game against Wright State. This is Rick Barnes' first NCAA Tournament with Tennessee but the group looked seasoned and ready to make a run in its first game of the weekend. Villanova and Duke both cruised to easy wins as well, but we've come to expect that from those teams in the first round.
12. Collin Sexton vs. Jalen Brunson is must-see TV: Trae Young and Deandre Ayton left the NCAA Tournament picture on Thursday, but another freshman star guaranteed an extension of his season as Alabama's Collin Sexton led the way in an exciting back-and-forth 86-83 victory over Virginia Tech. Neither team could get an advantage until Alabama sprung ahead with a 7-0 run in the second half, with Sexton going for a game-high 25 points. On Saturday he'll face one of the top three or four players in the country in Villanova's Jalen Brunson. Block off that time, because it's going to be one of the best backcourt battles we might see all tournament.
13. Michigan shook off the rust: Montana jumped out to an early 10-0 lead on Michigan, and frankly the Wolverines looked like a team that had been off for about a week and a half since we saw them tear through the Big Ten Tournament. Things corrected themselves in the second half with lockdown defense and good ball movement as Michigan pulled away for a 61-47 win.
14. Off-court: Georgia has landed its next head coach with .
15. Presidential bracket talk got spicy: Barack Obama Texas A&M and a response from No. 44., Georgia H. W. Bush voicing support for
16. Best matchups for Saturday: 1) Villanova-Alabama; 2) Kansas-Seton Hall; 3) Duke-Rhode island
Rest up, stretch and hydrate. We're going to run it all back Friday.
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