The primary full day of March Insanity is behind us, and Friday will see the sphere narrowed to 32 groups. ESPN.com’s panel of school basketball specialists weighed in on the most effective and worst of Thursday, and regarded forward to a different potential thrilling day forward.
What shocked you most from the primary day of the event?
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Jeff Borzello, School Basketball Insider: The narrative surrounding Kansas has been adverse for weeks. The Jayhawks had an damage to Udoka Azubuike, then Lagerald Vick took a depart of absence, then the Large 12 title streak ended. However the Jayhawks are being written off, and that is wanting foolish. They’re 9-Three of their previous 12 video games and pummeled 13-seed Northeastern on Thursday by 34 factors. It is not a classic Kansas staff by any stretch and so they’ve struggled in highway video games all season. However this is the factor: They will not play a real highway sport once more this season. And if they will beat Auburn on Saturday, they go to Kansas Metropolis for the regional. Dedric Lawson remains to be a monster inside and Devon Dotson is a high-level level guard. Do not write Kansas off simply but.
John Gasaway, School Basketball Author: I used to be most shocked that Florida beat Nevada in a sport during which the Gators led for the final 31 minutes of the competition and by as many as 18 factors. Sure, the Wolf Pack rallied within the second half and even made it a one-possession sport at a few factors. Nonetheless, a 70-61 loss to a No. 10 seed was not the denouement I anticipated from Eric Musselman’s skilled and gifted group that ranked within the high 10 within the nation for the primary 16 weeks of the season.
Jordan Schultz, Insider/Analyst: How concerning the lack of upsets? Is that this March Insanity, or not? New Mexico State, Belmont, Yale, Bradley and Saint Mary’s had been all on the doorstep of bracket-busting wins. Not a single one prevailed. The event at all times lends itself to particular moments and buzzer-beaters, however Thursday’s chalk-filled day was a dud when it comes to shockers. Not a single second of insanity throughout a full day of hoops is tough to imagine. Perhaps Friday shall be higher.
What staff do you’re feeling in a different way about now than you probably did coming into the day?
Morant’s triple-double despatched Murray State previous Marquette and displayed simply how troublesome he’s to comprise.
With 16 extra NCAA tourney first-round video games on Friday, there’s loads to wager on. Our 4 handicappers give their betting breakdowns of each sport.
A take a look at the most effective of the primary spherical on Thursday within the 2019 NCAA event.
Gasaway: Straightforward reply, however true: Minnesota. Sure, the Golden Gophers had an important day from the perimeter and drained 11 Three-pointers and Gabe Kalscheur blew up for 24 factors. However the efficiency from Richard Pitino’s staff was greater than a case of sizzling taking pictures. Minnesota took wonderful care of the ball and acquired a good variety of offensive boards. If the Gophers do this in opposition to Michigan State within the spherical of 32, this offense can document one other robust efficiency even when 11 extra 3s aren’t within the playing cards.
Borzello: I believe Gasaway’s reply about Minnesota might be appropriate, however I additionally suppose fellow Large Ten staff Maryland can work. The Terrapins have a few studs up entrance in Bruno Fernando and Jalen “Sticks” Smith, and people two ought to be capable to maintain their very own in opposition to LSU’s vaunted frontcourt. Fernando and Smith mixed for 33 factors and 25 rebounds on Thursday. Anthony Cowan did not play properly, however he nonetheless dished out six assists and turned it over solely as soon as. The Terps have been inconsistent down the stretch of the season, however expertise just isn’t a difficulty. They will not be overmatched by LSU on Saturday.
Minnesota’s Richard Pitino picked up his first profession NCAA event win on Thursday. Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports activities
Schultz: This may increasingly come as a shock, however Murray State. Mr. Triple-Double Ja Morant is a phenom, however all of us knew that. I got here away impressed with how properly the Racers guarded Marquette, significantly All-American candidate Markus Howard, who completed a measly 9-of-27 from the ground and simply Four-of-14 from Three. In actual fact, the Golden Eagles — who completed within the high 10 nationally in Three-point taking pictures — had been flummoxed by Murray State’s quickness and skill to contest, therefore the Eight-of-31 (25.Eight %) outing from distance. As long as Morant is on the ground, the defensive-minded Racers will stay a troublesome out, able to beating anybody.
Give us one Friday upset choose that will shock a lot of the world however wouldn’t shock you.
Borzello: With the latest information of Dean Wade lacking the early levels of the NCAA event, UC Irvine beating Kansas State won’t shock anybody at this level. However it’s nonetheless a 13-seed beating a Four-seed and due to this fact we’re counting it. The Anteaters have not misplaced since Jan. 16, successful 16 video games in a row and steamrolling Cal State Fullerton by 28 factors within the Large West title sport. Irvine is deep, skilled and well-coached by Russell Turner. They are going to be superb taking part in a half-court sport in opposition to Kansas State, and so they lead the nation in 2-point share protection. With out Wade, the Wildcats will not have the weapons to beat Irvine.
Can Kansas State advance with out injured ahead Dean Wade? Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
Gasaway: I am going to take Liberty over Mississippi State. Ritchie McKay’s protection is not nearly as good as those he used to help with at Virginia, however the one a part of the recipe the Flames have down chilly is a really methodical tempo. The Bulldogs might want to keep affected person, and, particularly, Ben Howland’s males should maintain tabs on each Scottie James and Caleb Homesley deep into the shot clock. It is a stretch, however it will definitely shock the world and it is probably not as a lot of a attain because the world may suppose.
Schultz: Liberty has an actual shot in opposition to Mississippi State — an actual shot — however I might be even much less shocked if UC Irvine beats Bruce Weber’s membership. The Dean Wade loss is only a killer for Okay-State. He’s the guts and soul of the Wildcats, and his potential to make 3s in addition to move and function out of the mid-post is not going to be replicated. In the meantime, 14-seed UCI is red-hot, having steamrolled the Large West Match en path to 16 straight wins. The Anteaters are a defensive juggernaut that muddies up the paint and ranks first nationally in 2-point share protection.
Give us a stat line for Duke’s Zion Williamson in his first NCAA event sport (vs. North Dakota State, 7:10 p.m., CBS).
Gasaway: Zion’s going to have a light-weight exercise in opposition to the Bison. He’ll come out and collect rebounds and dunks, however the consequence will not be doubtful lengthy sufficient for the Duke freshman to place up Ja Morant-level round-of-64 numbers. I am going to go along with: 23 factors, 11 rebounds, Four blocks.
Borzello: If Duke had greater than eight totally wholesome gamers, Zion won’t must play a full allotment of minutes in opposition to North Dakota State. However the Blue Devils do not, so we would see Zion for as many minutes as he can deal with. If he is too athletic and too robust for the ACC, think about how it will be for the Bison. I am going to go 27 factors, Eight rebounds (Four offensive) and three blocks.
Schultz: The Summit League champion Bison will not be particularly huge, nor are they athletic. Duke will win this sport in blowout vogue, so it actually turns into a matter of simply what number of minutes Zion will truly play. Contemplating he’s nonetheless getting his sea legs after nursing a foot damage, let’s go along with a “regular” Zion effort of 27 factors, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks — to associate with no less than two SC Prime Ten-worthy dunks.