They did it. And it wasn’t even close.
UMBC, the Retrievers, the America East champions, just scored the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament, routing No. 1 overall seed Virginia, 74-54. The Cavs looked slow and out of it from the start, and after coming out of the locker room locked in a 21-21 tie at halftime, the Retrievers took advantage.
UMBC outscored Virginia 53-33 in the second half, raining three-pointers on the Cavs while stifling the Virginia offense. The Retrievers outworked, outhustled and completely outplayed U-Va. They deserved to make history.
Jairus Lyles made nine of his 11 field goal attempts, scoring a game-high 28 points to lead UMBC, which next faces Kansas State on Sunday. Holy cow.
Florida State does it with defense
Missouri never really had a chance. The No. 8 Tigers trailed 42-20 at halftime and were completely stymied by the No. 9 Seminoles, shooting 33 percent en route to a 67-54 loss. Florida State got at least eight points from five different players in rolling to a win and will take on the West’s top seed, Xavier, on Sunday.
Michael Porter Jr., the Mizzou phenom who missed the entire regular season with a back injury before coming back last week for the SEC tournament, had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers but shot just 4 of 12 to do it.
Clemson win sets up a Tiger vs. Tiger showdown
The Tigers won Friday night. Their next opponent? The Tigers!
No. 5 Clemson knocked off No. 12 New Mexico State, 79-68, behind Shelton Mitchell’s 23 points and another 22 from Gabe DeVoe in San Diego, ending the day’s games in the Midwest Region. The Tigers led 44-32 at halftime and rode some hot shooting to the win. Clemson hit on 56 percent of its field goal attempts, including 43 percent from deep, with Mitchell and DeVoe combining to make 4 of 8 threes.
New Mexico State, something of a trendy upset pick having entered the game at 28-5 on the season, never really got into a rhythm and finished the night shooting just 39 percent from the floor. Senior guard Zach Lofton led the Aggies with 29 points.
Which brings us back to the Tigers, who get to face the Tigers on Sunday. The Auburn Tigers to be exact, in a 4-seed vs. 5-seed, SEC vs. ACC matchup. May the best Tigers win.
‘Cuse earns an upset of its own
It didn’t have the shock factor of UMBC’s toppling of Virginia. Not even close. But Syracuse, one of the last teams into the tournament, plays on after a 57-52 win over No. 6 TCU in the Midwest Region. The Orange uglied things up, winning on defense by holding the Horned Frogs to 39.6 percent shooting.
Marek Dolezaj (17 points) and Oshae Brissett (13 points, nine rebounds, three blocks) carried No. 11 Syracuse, which moves on to face Michigan State on Sunday.
Auburn ends year of the 13s
Never in NCAA tournament history have three No. 13 seeds advanced past the round of 64, yet through the 2018 tournament’s first weekend, it looked as though this was the year the 13s — spots normally reserved for bubble at-large teams or mid-major automatic qualifiers — would have their way.
Buffalo throttled Arizona. UNC-Greensboro pushed Gonzaga to the edge. Marshall upset Wichita State.
And then there was Charleston, somehow tied with Auburn at the half, and up again with four minutes to play, and Auburn sputtering and confused, its offense hiccuping, its defense disjointed. But this still will not be the year of the 13s. The Tigers, Southeastern Conference regular season champs, righted themselves in the waning moments and survived with an ugly 62-58 win.
Bryce Brown and Jared Harper hit back-to-back Auburn three-pointers to move the Tigers ahead by three with a little more than a minute remaining, and Charleston (26-8) had no answer.
Jarrell Brantley led the Cougars with a game-high 24 points. Mustapha Heron paced the Tigers with 16. Auburn will face the winner of Clemson and New Mexico State in the round of 32.
Michigan State outlasts Bucknell
Michigan State could never quite pull away from No. 14-seed Bucknell. Even when the Spartans made runs, the Bison were right there to punch back, led by senior forward Zach Thomas’s 27 points and 20 more from Stephen Brown.
But Michigan State is a title favorite for a reason, and when the Spartans’ physical defense meshed with their athletic and precise offense, well, it’s no wonder Coach Tom Izzo has such a good record in March.
The result was an 82-78 win in Detroit on Friday night. Michigan State will face Syracuse in the round of 32. Miles Bridges led the Spartans with a game-high 29 points. Joshua Langford chipped in 22.
Kansas State runs away from Creighton
Creighton and Kansas State, the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game in the South region, was a close game that tilted toward the Wildcats in the second half. Kansas State ran away with things late for a 69-59 win.
Junior guard Barry Brown led the team with 18 points and six rebounds. The Wildcats (23-11) will face UMBC.
More updates to come as the madness continues.
Nevada tops Texas in overtime
Nevada was technically the higher seed in its first round match-up against Texas, but the Wolfpack players walked off the floor looking like improbable upset kings.
After Texas star center Mohamed Bamba fouled out at the end of regulation, Nevada got hot in overtime and pulled off an 87-83 win in Nashville. Now the Wolfpack will face Cincinnati in the round of 32.
Five Nevada (28-7) players scored in double figures, including 22 points from guard Kendall Stephens. Texas’s Kerwin Roach II led all scorers with 26 points. Bamba had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
The Longhorns (19-15) led almost wire-to-wire; Nevada led the game only twice: 5-2 in the very early going, and 78-77 after Caleb Martin’s three-pointer with 2:28 in overtime.
A bizarre finish nearly gave Nevada a chance to win the game in regulation. Jordan Caroline split a pair of free throws to tie the game with 3.8 seconds left, but Texas’s inbound pass was sloppy and got tipped out of bounds in front of the Wolfpack bench with 1.6 seconds on the clock. Nevada’s buzzer beater was no good, but it seized the momentum heading into the extra session and transformed the game into a battle of guard play with Bamba on the bench.
A four-point play for Roach gave Texas an early lead in overtime, but Martin made a pair of threes, then dished a pass to his brother, Cody Martin, for a layup to seal the game with just less than a minute to play.
Nevada Coach Eric Musselman was amped to share the win with his team.
West Virginia rolls over Murray State
Jevon Carter scored 21 points and No. 5-seed West Virginia turned up the heat on defense in an 85-68 romp over No. 12-seed Murray State on Friday night in San Diego.
The Mountaineers (25-10) will face Marshall, which upset Wichita State earlier in the day, in the round of 32. Senior forward Terrell Miller Jr. led all scorers with 27 points and 17 rebounds for the Racers (26-6).
Another upset as Marshall stuns Wichita State
Down goes another No. 4 seed. Marshall’s Jon Elmore scored 27 points to lead the 13th-seeded Thundering Herd to an 81-75 win over Wichita State in San Diego. It was Friday’s first upset, and it was a big one.
Marshall earned its first-ever tournament win in its sixth appearance and denied the Shockers a sixth consecutive trip to the second round. The upset came on the heels of No. 13 seed Buffalo’s 89-68 win over No. 4 seed Arizona on Thursday night. It’s the first time since 2008 that two 13 seeds have won first-round games.
Wichita State led 37-34 at halftime, but Marshall, coached by Houston Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni’s older brother, Dan, wouldn’t go away. (D’Antoni looked fly as heck in his usual blazer and T-shirt getup on the sideline.) Oh, and the last Marshall player to score 25 or more points in the tournament? That would be Mike D’Antoni, back in 1972, according to ESPN.
“I like these guys, I like riding with them,” D’Antoni said during the postgame news conference. “They’re fun to be on a trip with and they’re fun to watch play, and it’s real fun when we win, so we’re going to try to do that one more time.”
Marshall will play West Virginia.
Elmore’s standout performance featured four three-pointers, including one in the second half that he launched from Los Angeles. The Steph Effect is real.
Marshall took a 78-72 lead with 2:01 to play on a C.J. Burks steal and dunk, but Wichita State responded with a Conner Frankamp three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining. A dunk by Ajdin Penava pushed the Marshall lead back to five and the Shockers, who made only 8 of 29 shots from three-point range, couldn’t buy a bucket in the closing seconds. Frankamp led Wichita State with 27 points in defeat.
Bad news for the Boilermakers: Following its blowout win over Cal State Fullerton, second-seeded Purdue announced that 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas will miss the rest of the tournament after fracturing his elbow while going for a rebound in the second half. Haas, who averaged 14.9 points and 5.6 rebounds during the regular season, had nine points and 10 rebounds on Friday.
Evening (All times Eastern):
- No. 9 Kansas State 69, No. 8 Creighton 59
- No. 3 Michigan State 82, No. 14 Bucknell 78
- 7:20 p.m. No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 16 Texas Southern (TBS)
- No. 4 Auburn 62, No. 13 Charleston 58
- No. 16 UMBC 74, No. 1 Virginia 54
- No. 11 Syracuse 57, No. 6 TCU 52
- No. 5 Clemson 79, No. 12 New Mexico State 68
- No. 9 Florida State 67, No. 8 Missouri 54
- No. 7 Texas A&M 73, No. 10 Providence 69
- No. 2 Purdue 74, No. 15 Cal State Fullerton 48
- No. 13 Marshall 81, No. 4 Wichita State 75
- No. 2 Cincinnati 68, No. 15 Georgia State 53
- No. 2 North Carolina 84, No. 15 Lipscomb 66
- No. 10 Butler 79, No. 7 Arkansas 62
- No. 5 West Virginia 85, No. 12 Murray State 68
- No. 7 Nevada 87, No. 10 Texas 83 (OT)
North Carolina pulls away: The second-seeded Tar Heels disposed of Atlantic Sun champion Lipscomb, 84-66, setting up a second-round game against Texas A&M. The teams went back and forth throughout the first half, although the Tar Heels ended the half with a 10-1 spurt to take a nine-point lead. They were never seriously threatened in the second half, taking a first step toward defending their national championship. All five starters scored in double digits for North Carolina, led by Kenny Williams with 18 points. Theo Pinson flirted with a triple-double and finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Arkansas digs out of an enormous hole, loses anyway: Butler jumped out to a 21-2 lead against Arkansas, but the seventh-seeded Razorbacks clawed back to within 36-31 at halftime. The deficit was five points with 8:02 remaining before the No. 10 Bulldogs pulled away. Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin led Butler with 27 and 24 points, respectively. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Razorbacks 45-25. They get Purdue next.
Texas A&M starts slow, finishes strong against Providence: Seventh-seeded Texas A&M overcame a brick-filled start to down Providence, 73-69, in Friday’s first game. Admon Gilder paced four Aggies in double figures with 18 points to send the No. 10 Friars and their delightfully creepy mascot home. Texas A&M advances to play North Carolina.
The Aggies missed shots every which way in the early going, but especially via brick and air ball. In fact, it took them more than six minutes to score a point. Finally, at the 12:43 mark of the first half, they managed a field goal after missing their first 10 shots. They also had five turnovers at the game’s outset. It wasn’t pretty.
Fear not, though. With just more than 11 minutes left in the first half, the Aggies had tied the score at 9, and by halftime, they led, 28-27. They finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field.
Senior Rodney Bullock led the Friars with 22 points in defeat, and Providence Coach Ed Cooley managed to make it through the game without ripping his pants.
Cincinnati holds off stool-free Ron Hunter and Georgia State: Georgia State was back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015, when the Panthers busted more than a few brackets with a first-round upset of third-seeded Baylor. That game provided one of the tournament’s shining moments. Georgia State Coach Ron Hunter, who tore his Achilles’ tendon celebrating the Panthers’ Sun Belt conference championship a week earlier, tumbled off of the stool he was using on the bench after his son, R.J., sank the game-winning three-pointer.
“I really want to get our team to the Sweet 16,” Hunter told reporters this week. “I wasn’t healthy before. We couldn’t get to the Sweet 16 because I was on a scooter. But I’ve got both my feet. I’m ready to go. I’m healthy right now, man. I can go dunk if I want to. I’m on cloud nine.”
Hunter doesn’t need the stool for support anymore, but Georgia State packed it anyway for good luck. After leading second-seeded Cincinnati by as many as seven points in the first half, the Panthers trailed 35-30 at halftime. The Bearcats pulled away in the second half for a 68-53 win behind 27 points from Jarron Cumberland.
Purdue rolls on: Second-seeded Purdue cruised to a 74-48 win over No. 15 Cal State Fullerton.
And the Boilermakers had a novel way of subduing the Titans early in their first-round game Friday.
Making only their third-ever NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2008, the Titans led 12-11 with 10:14 remaining in the half before the Boilermakers reeled off nine straight points. Purdue had a nine-point lead at halftime and dominated the second half. Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards — no relation — led the Boilermakers with 15 points apiece.
Brackets are burning: The first full day of the NCAA tournament is in the books, and the results weren’t pretty for most brackets, which were badly bruised by Buffalo’s upset of fourth-seeded Arizona in one of the last games of the session.
But a new day dawns, hope springs eternal, yada yada, and there’s still life left to be wrung from your brackets — even if your name is Charles Barkley. Just know that you are not alone. Out of 17.3 million brackets submitted to ESPN, only .00036 remain perfect, so maybe set the bar a little lower than perfection. (That works out to just 6,306 perfect brackets) By comparison, after the first day of games in 2014, .4 percent out of 11 million still remained perfect — more than 41,000 brackets. And nearly 5 percent of entrants picked Arizona to win the tournament, according to ESPN, which was more than backed higher seeds Xavier, Purdue, Cincinnati, Michigan, Tennessee or Texas Tech.
The NCAA tracked tens of millions of brackets through six major online games last year, and found that only one bracket remained perfect through 39 games. It fell by the wayside on the final matchup of the third day of games Saturday.
As for opening night 2018, the big stunner Thursday was Buffalo’s 89-68 rout in Boise, Idaho, a victory that gave the Bulls — not to be confused with the Bills — their first NCAA tourney victory and established #BullsMafia as a worthy companion to the NFL’s #BillsMafia. No. 4 seed Arizona led 46-45 with 17:22 left, but Buffalo went on a surreal 44-22 stampede and posted the second-largest win by a 13 seed over a 4 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Catch up on the other results here.
Count Barkley among those with brackets that are closing in on Hindenburg status. He had Arizona losing to Michigan State in the championship game. “Man, I got a whole lot of X’s up here now,” was his astute observation during Friday’s pregame show. Barkley went on to say that SEC is the best basketball conference and — pssst — his bracket has Rhode Island beating Duke.
Now, what games seem ripe for upset on Friday? Here are four matchups for favorites to fear: No. 4 Wichita State vs. No. 13 Marshall; No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 15 Georgia State; No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 New Mexico State and No. 6 TCU vs. Syracuse.
Keep an eye out for Bill Murray: The actor, a March Madness fixture, will most likely turn up at an Xavier game, given that his son, Luke, is an assistant coach there. The Musketeers tip off against Texas Southern at 7:20 (Eastern) in San Diego. His other option is to head to Nashville for Charleston’s tip-off against Auburn. Why Charleston, you ask? Murray, who co-owns the city’s RiverDogs minor league baseball team, also has a house there and turned up last week for a Cougars game.
Pac-12 sadness: Arizona’s loss means that, for the first time since 1986, the Pac-10/12 will not have a team in the NCAA round of 32.
Deserting the desert: After Arizona’s loss to Buffalo, two of the team’s stars wasted no time in announcing their plans for the future. Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier officially declared for June’s NBA draft. “I learned a lot and built relationships on this team,” Ayton, the 7-foot freshman who could be the first player chosen, said (via ESPN). “This is the only team that I actually loved. Being a Wildcat is amazing. I think it’s the right thing to do, right now. I think I’m ready for the NBA. … I just have to finish off school right and just work this summer and play for the draft.”
Trier, a junior guard, said he wasn’t worried about making the jump to the pros. “I’m closing the book on this chapter and looking forward to the next one in my life. It’s a pleasure to be coached by [Sean Miller] and be a part of him and this program for three years.”
— Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Texas’s Mo Bamba, freshman and future NBA lottery picks, have radiant personalities that will almost certainly be missing from next year’s NCAA tournament. Asks The Post’s Chuck Culpepper, “Is there enough time for a college legacy, for players such as Porter and Bamba, in this tournament flicker?”
— Every tournament needs a villain, and luckily for this year’s event, Duke’s Grayson Allen has made peace with his role. The Blue Devils advanced with a victory over Iona, and Allen took a razzing in Pittsburgh. “It would be really surprising to me if I didn’t get booed as I walked out onto the court,” Allen said. “I’ve kind of just accepted it. I feed off of it. I’m not only used to it, but I own it now.”
— No. 1 overall seed Virginia is trying to reach its first Final Four since 1984, and the Cavaliers will have to do so without ACC sixth man of the year De’Andre Hunter. Virginia will turn in part to 6-foot-9 reserve Mamadi Diakite, who moved to the U.S. from Guinea four years ago speaking no English. And while Virginia’s path “became significantly more complicated,” The Post’s Jerry Brewer argues that ” this should be considered just the first test of whether it has the flexibility to survive.”
— Virginia’s opponent, 16th-seeded UMBC, is a prohibitive underdog in just its second NCAA tournament appearance, and the Retrievers are embracing the moment. Don’t forget that Coach Ryan Odom spent part of his childhood in Charlottesville, where he occasionally would slip on a Virginia T-shirt and hang out with his father at University Hall. Linchpin Jairus Lyles turned down the chance to transfer into big-time college hoops so that he could max out his legacy at the Catonsville school, as John Feinstein wrote earlier this season.
— Arizona’s stunning loss eliminated the NCAA’s biggest headache and ended the collegiate career of star big man DeAndre Ayton, the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. Teammate Allonzo Trier also said he will leave school and head to the NBA.
— Neil Greenberg will be updating his live round-by-round odds for each team to advance throughout the tournament. Thursday’s biggest surprises — upset losses by Miami and Arizona — give Kentucky a 73 percent to make the Sweet 16, and Tennessee a 67 percent chance to do the same.
— The most important thing you’ll need to know over the first two days of the tournament — the absolute most essential information is how to find truTV, the Turner channel that assumes a lofty status along with CBS, TNT and TBS for this part of the March Madness. Here’s everything you need to know about how to quickly find it.
— Barack Obama isn’t letting a little thing like being out of office keep him from his annual “Barack-etology” efforts. Spoilers: he has Michigan State winning the men’s title and U-Conn. (again) winning the women’s championship.
— And don’t forget about the other March Madness — a rush for vasectomies during the NCAA tournament.