NCAA Tournament 2021 scores, takeaways: Underdogs rule the first day of action at the Big Dance

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Friday's action set the stage for some compelling second round NCAA Tournament matchups. Though there are still 16 first-round games left to play on Saturday, we at least have some idea of who will be dueling for the right to make the Sweet 16.

Among the most compelling meetings will be an in-state duel between No. 1 seed Illinois and No. 8 seed Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers advanced courtesy of a 71-60 win over No. 8 seed Georgia Tech, while Illinois trounced Drexel 78-49.

A couple of Cinderella squads will also have decent chances to advance to the Sweet 16 on Sunday after improbable wins on Friday. At the top of the list is No. 15 seed Oral Roberts, which notched the upset of the day by knocking off No. 2 seed Ohio State. The Eagles will advance to play No. 7 seed Florida on Sunday.

All in all, the Friday slate featured comebacks, thrilling finishes and some upsets. Here are a few takeaways from the action, including a look at a few more underdogs who fared well.

Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander recap all of Friday's first-round action on the latest episode of Eye on College Basketball. Listen now:


North Texas shines

North Texas went cold at the end of the regular season, losing three straight games entering the Conference USA Tournament. Once there, the Mean Green got on a roll by winning four straight to secure the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. That roll continued in a monumental way on Friday night as North Texas knocked off No. 4 seed Purdue 78-69 in overtime for the program's first NCAA Tournament victory. The win means the Mean Green will be pitted against No. 5 seed Villanova on Sunday.

Normally, that would be a tough matchup for a Conference USA squad. But it's been well-documented that Villanova is trying to find its way without star guard Collin Gillespie. The Wildcats got past Winthrop 73-63 on Friday, but they are still adjusting to life without their leader, and North Texas will provide a test. 

Oregon State's roll continues

North Texas wasn't the only conference tournament champion to parlay the momentum gained last week into a solid first day in the Big Dance. After running through a trio of solid opponents in the Pac-12 Tournament, Oregon State knocked off No. 5 seed Tennessee 70-56 on Friday for the program's first victory in the NCAA Tournament since 1982.

The Beavers will go from one all-orange battle to another as they now must face No. 4 seed Oklahoma State in the second round. But if recent results are any indication, Oregon State should be ready for the challenge.

Rutgers making history

Rutgers was robbed of its NCAA Tournament opportunity last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Scarlet Knights are finally back in the Big Dance for the first time in 30 years this season and seem intent on staying. They squeaked out a 60-56 win over No. 7 seed Clemson on Friday and advanced to play No. 2 seed Houston on Sunday. The victory was the program's first in the NCAA Tournament since 1983, and Rutgers may not be done yet. After navigating the gauntlet of Big Ten play, facing the Cougars in a second round game won't intimidate this squad.

2021 NCAA Tournament TV schedule

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.

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FRI 10:25 P
WVU -13, o136
TRU
WVU -13, O/U 136

Season Leaders

points
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J. Broome 13.8 PTS, 0.7 AST, 9.0 REB
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J. Broome 13.8 PTS, 0.7 AST, 9.0 REB
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M. McBride 15.9 PTS, 4.8 AST, 3.9 REB
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M. McBride 15.9 PTS, 4.8 AST, 3.9 REB
assists
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T. Cooper 8.2 PTS, 3.6 AST, 2.1 REB
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T. Cooper 8.2 PTS, 3.6 AST, 2.1 REB
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M. McBride 15.9 PTS, 4.8 AST, 3.9 REB
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M. McBride 15.9 PTS, 4.8 AST, 3.9 REB
rebounds
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J. Broome 13.8 PTS, 0.7 AST, 9.0 REB
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J. Broome 13.8 PTS, 0.7 AST, 9.0 REB
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D. Culver 14.3 PTS, 1.1 AST, 9.4 REB
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D. Culver 14.3 PTS, 1.1 AST, 9.4 REB
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March 20, 2021, 2:59 AM

Clemson settling for fadeaway jumpers and long bombs. Rutgers attacking with force and getting to the cup. It's a 13-2 run for Rutgers.

March 20, 2021, 2:58 AM

9-0 run for Rutgers gives the team its largest lead of the night.

March 20, 2021, 2:56 AM

Ron Harper Jr. has been a bundle of energy tonight for Rutgers. He's up to 10 points on the night as Rutgers takes a 41-37 lead over Clemson.

March 20, 2021, 2:52 AM

Stunning first half development: Syracuse up 32-18 (!) over No. 6 seed San Diego State. Syracuse zone defense gave the Aztecs fits on offense and couldn't find a rhythm at all.

March 20, 2021, 2:50 AM

Rutgers-Clemson getting good. Scarlet Knights just retook the lead for the first time in the second half, 39-37. Clemson getting gashed every which way in the early portion of the second half.

March 20, 2021, 2:47 AM
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