No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock will try to advance against No. 4 Iowa State
No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 4 Kentucky reignites an old rivalry
No. 1 seeds keep with tradition and win first round games
Bracket busted? Don’t feel too bad. Most people are experiencing the same thing.
A lot of you had Michigan State – a No. 2 seed that some experts thought could have been a 1 – going to the Final Four or even winning the title. But the Spartans fell to Middle Tennessee State University 90-81 on Friday.
And as in many previous years, the No. 12 seeds came through with upsets. On Thursday, No. 12 Yale stunned No. 5 Baylor 79-75, while No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock mounted an epic comeback to defeat No. 5 Purdue 85-83.
After the first round madness, what should you watch for this weekend? Here are some story lines heading into Saturday:
1. No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 4 Kentucky: Classic powerhouses collide (5:15 p.m. Saturday ET on CBS).
This is a game worthy of a later-round matchup. Instead, we’re treated to a potential classic early in the tournament in storied programs of Indiana vs. Kentucky. It reignites a dormant rivalry. The two teams used to play each other annually but stopped after the 2011-2012 season.
“There has been a lot of great history with Indiana and Kentucky over the years, and we’ve been privileged to be a part of it,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. “There’s been a lot of tremendous games. Obviously it’s a rivalry because of the history of it, because of the proximity of the two states, but because the two basketball teams have been good when it’s been at its best.”
This season, Indiana won the Big Ten Conference regular-season title, while Kentucky took the Southeastern Conference tournament title and shared the regular-season conference title with Texas A&M.
“You know, it’s kind of unfortunate that this game is being played this early,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said Thursday night. “This should be another round or two later. But it is what it is, so both of us are going to have to play. Tom knows the respect I have for him as a coach and as a leader and what he does. They’re really, really good.”
2. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock vs. No. 4 Iowa State: Can the Trojans keep dancing? (6:10 pm ET Saturday on TNT).
It looked like a lock. No. 5 Purdue had a 13-point lead over Arkansas-Little Rock with less than four minutes to go in regulation Thursday evening. Time to change the channel, right?
Never assume anything in March.
A 3-pointer from deep by Trojans senior guard Josh Hagins with four seconds left capped a furious comeback and forced overtime. Hagins came through again to force the second extra period with the tying layup with 18 seconds to go. He would finish with 31 points.
“We’re not done yet,” Arkansas-Little Rock head coach Chris Beard said Thursday. “I’ve always thought there’s different kinds of teams that go to tournaments. Teams that are happy to be in the tournament and teams that go to try to win the tournament. That’s kind of our objective right now.
“We think we have a team that can advance in this tournament.”
On Saturday, Arkansas-Little Rock will face Iowa State, who defeated No. 13 Iona 94-81, in the round of 32. The Cyclones have reason to be wary as they have fallen victim before to the upset bug. Last season, Iowa State, then a No. 3 seed, was shocked by No. 14 Alabama-Birmingham 60-59 in the round of 64.
“Now you got the pressure to go to the Sweet 16,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said Thursday. “There’s a constant pressure in this business. But you want to be at jobs where there’s pressures and expectations, or really what are you coaching for and what are you playing for?
“This is a great tournament. We’re blessed to be here, and we’re really excited about our opportunity on Saturday.”
3. Will any of the No. 1 seeds bow out early?
Heading into Saturday’s games, the four No. 1 seeds were still safe.
So far, none of the top seeds has been threatened. Top overall seed Kansas had no issues against No. 16 Austin Peay, winning 105-79 Thursday. North Carolina had a first-half scare but went on to defeat No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast 83-67.
There was a frightening moment on the sidelines Thursday when Virginia head coach Tony Bennett collapsed in the first half against No. 16 Hampton. The team said it was because of dehydration. Bennett returned to the sidelines for the second half in the Cavaliers’$2 81-45 win.
Bennett said Thursday that his collapse may have been related to being under the weather for the last couple of days.
“I think I was a bit dehydrated, and when you’re squatting down and get up quick, I just grayed out or blacked out a little bit,” Bennett said.
Oregon routed Holy Cross, a 16 seed with a losing record, 91-52 on Friday.
A look ahead to Saturday’s games for the top seeds:
• Kansas will play No. 9 Connecticut in Des Moines, Iowa (7:45 p.m. ET on CBS).
• Virginia faces No. 9 Butler in Raleigh, North Carolina (7:10 p.m. ET on TBS).
• North Carolina takes on No. 9 Providence in Raleigh (9:40 p.m. ET on TBS).
On Sunday, Oregon will meet No. 8 Saint Joseph’s in Spokane, Washington (9:40 p.m. ET on TBS)