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Ohio State falls to Oral Roberts
Ohio State falls to Oral Roberts

Finally, the wait is over! After a loooong awaited seven hundred and eleven days (711), I’ve written it out to really emphasize the long wait. March Madness is finally here. It wasn’t pretty, but we got here. After a long, tumultuous NCAA season filled with players sitting out and canceled games due to COVID-19 contact tracing, March 19th has arrived, and we are ready to kick off the NCAA Championship Tournament. The brackets are set; 64 hopeful teams will all compete towards that one common goal, to be crowned 2021 NCAA Champions. Unlike years past, we won’t be able to storm the courts when our teams advance to the next round. But one thing is for sure, there will be laughs, and there will be cries. So let’s all get ready and let the show begin.

Day 1

16 Drexel 49
1 Illinois 78

16 Hartford 55
1 Baylor 79

15 Cleveland State 56
2 Houston 87

15 Oral Roberts 75
2 Ohio State 72

14 Colgate 68
3 Arkansas 85

13 Liberty 60
4 Oklahoma State 69

14 Morehead State 67
3 West Virginia 84

11 Syracuse 78
6 San Diego State 62

9 Georgia Tech 60
8 Loyola Chicago 71

12 Winthrop 63
5 Villanova 73

13 North Texas 78
4 Purdue 69

11 Utah State 53
6 Texas Tech 65

10 Virginia Tech 70
7 Florida 75

12 Oregon State 70
5 Tennessee 56

9 Wisconsin 85
8 North Carolina 62

10 Rutgers 60
7 Clemson 56

Key Matchups:
16 Drexel vs. 1 Illinois

This matchup was one of the bigger blowouts of the day, with the Fighting Illini defeating the Drexel Dragons by 29 points. Kofi Cockburn led the way with 18 points, and big man Ayo Dosunmu helped collect 11 boards in the win. As a team, Illinois shot an outstanding field goal percentage of 57.1%.

15 Oral Roberts vs. 2 Ohio State

This matchup was a true definition of the word UPSET. This was the biggest upset that occurred on Day 1. By no means was it a fluke, as Oral Roberts Kevin Obanor led his team with 30 points and 11 Rebounds, outperforming OSU’s star E.J. Liddell. It went to overtime, but in the end, it was ORU shooting 31.4% from the 3-point line and only committing 6 turnovers compared to OSU’s 16. That was the difference in the game for them to come out victorious.

11 Syracuse vs. 6 San Diego State

Syracuse, led by Junior Guard Buddy Boeheim’s 30 points, was the difference-maker in this upset over San Diego State. It was an overall collective team effort by Syracuse, beating SD State in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and rebounds for the game.

13 North Texas vs. 4 Purdue

It took Overtime, but North Texas was able to pull off the upset, beating Purdue in their home stadium. Guard Javion Hamlet led his team to victory with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Even though the game went into overtime, Purdue was outplayed by North Texas, shooting 47.5% from the field goal range and 42.9% from the 3-point stripe.

12 Oregon State vs. 5 Tennessee

The second biggest upset of Day 1 belonged to Oregon State, as they defeated Tennessee by 14 points. No particular player stood out in this game, as it was a collective team effort that led Oregon State to the win. They led the game in all 3 categories, shooting 48% from the field goal range, 47.6% from the 3-point stripe, and outrebounded Tennessee with 41 total for the game. 

Day 2

15 Iona 55
2 Alabama 68

15 Grand Canyon 74
2 Iowa 86

14 Abilene Christian 53
3 Texas 52

14 Eastern Washington 84
3 Kansas 93

13 UNC Greensboro 54
4 Florida State 64

13 Ohio 62
4 Virginia 58

12 UC Santa Barbara 62
5 Creighton 63

12 Georgetown 73
5 Colorado 96

9 St. Bonaventure 61
8 LSU 76

16 Texas Southern 66
1 Michigan 82

11 Drake 56
6 USC 72

10 Maryland 63
7 UConn 54

9 Missouri 68
8 Oklahoma 72

16 Norfolk State 55
1 Gonzaga 98

11 UCLA 73
6 BYU 62

10 VCU 7 Oregon Uncontested

Key Matchups:

14 Abilene Christian vs. 3 Texas

The upsets continued on Day 2, as we saw Abilene Christian knock off Texas in a game that came down to the last second. Even though Texas outshot Abilene from field goal range and beyond the 3-point stripe, it was a tale of 2 halves as it was Abilene Forward Joe Pleasant’s 11 points and 8 rebounds that made the difference in the second half to edge over Texas and lead them to a 1 point win.

13 Ohio vs. 4 Virginia

2019 NCAA Tournament Champions Virginia were also stunned with a 1st round exit at the hands of Ohio. Ohio Guards Ben Vander Plas and Jason Preston led the way on offense by helping Ohio shoot 42% from field goal range and outrebounding Virginia with 38 boards.

12 Georgetown vs. 5 Colorado

The Fairytale story that was the Georgetown Hoyas sadly came to an end at the hands of the Colorado Buffaloes. Coming into this matchup, there was well-deserved hype surrounding coach Patrick Ewing (GANG GANG) and the Hoyas as they were crowned Big East Champions when they defeated Creighton. Unfortunately, that success didn’t carry over to this matchup, as they were tremendously outplayed on offense. Colorado shot an impressive 60.7% from the field goal range, compared to Georgetown’s 39.7%. Colorado also torched Georgetown shooting 64% from 3-point range.

16 Norfolk State vs. 1 Gonzaga

This year’s favorite to win the tournament, Gonzaga, steamrolled past Norfolk State, scoring the highest amount on offense in Round 1 of the tourney with 98 points. Gonzaga Senior Guard Corey Kispert led the offense with 23 points, shooting 53% from the field goal range. This solid offensive performance was a team effort, as the rest of the Zaggies shot 55.7% from field goal range, 51.9% from 3-point range, and outrebounded Norfolk State with 45 boards.

11 UCLA vs. 6 BYU

One of the last teams to punch their ticket into the tournament, UCLA, claimed Round 1’s last upset win over favored BYU. UCLA was led by a pair of dominant Sophomores that made the biggest difference in the game. UCLA Guard Johnny Juzang scored 27 points, shooting 62% from the field goal range. Guard Jamie Jaquez Jr. led UCLA on the glass with 8 boards and 13 points, most of those points came in the first half helping UCLA get out in front with a sizable lead.

10 VCU vs. 7 Oregon

As we all know, the pandemic is still very much here, and the sports world is still dealing with its effects. This matchup was the 1st matchup in this tournament ruled a “no contest” as VCU could not play due to a positive COVID test. This is quite sad and unfortunate, as VCU will have to wait another year for their run at the NCAA tournament championship. Oregon automatically advanced to the Second Round.

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