The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s pulls a stunner to give the NCAA tournament its first signature moment

Doug Edert and the Saint Peter's Peacocks had much to celebrate after their upset win over Kentucky on Thursday. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

March Madness is in full swing, with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starting in earnest Thursday with 16 games in the first round.

No. 15 Saint Peter’s had the day’s biggest upset, taking down second-seeded Kentucky for its first NCAA tournament win and sending the Wildcats to their earliest exit from March Madness since 2008.

Top-seeded Baylor started its championship defense with a rout of Norfolk State, and top overall seed Gonzaga used a 21-0 run in the second half to take over its opening matchup against Georgia State.

No. 12 Richmond took fifth-seeded Iowa to the wire and knocked off the Hawkeyes in the Midwest Region. A few hours later, another No. 5 seed fell as New Mexico State beat Connecticut for its first NCAA tournament win since 1993.

Among the other blue bloods, UCLA rallied to beat upset-minded No. 13 seed Akron in Portland, Ore., and top-seeded Kansas had its way with Texas Southern.

Take a look back at recaps, analysis and highlights from March Madness.

What to know about March Madness

10:37 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
It’s a long way until everyone knows who the winner of the NCAA tournament is.But one of the biggest losers is already clear: the Mountain West.The league produced a four-bid contingent for the first time since five teams made it in 2013. Boise State won the regular season and the tournament. Colorado State, led by conference player of the year David Roddy, earned a No. 6 seed. San Diego State, a defensive menace, had tournament experience. And Wyoming was a feel-good choice for a play-in game.But then Wyoming lost said First Four game to Indiana. Colorado State wasted a 15-point lead against Michigan and lost in Thursday’s first game of the day. Boise State got overwhelmed by Memphis in the first half, trailing by 19 at the break and never getting closer than five.And then to close out the showing, San Diego State wasted a 14-point lead and fell, 72-69, to Creighton in overtime.With that, the Mountain West became just the seventh league to land at least three bids to an NCAA tournament and go winless, and the first to go 0-for-the-tourney with at least four teams since the SEC in 1989.
10:15 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
Chances are, under nearly any circumstances, Saint Mary’s was going to pound whoever came out of the Indiana-Wyoming First Four game. Randy Bennett’s team is that good, and the Hoosiers (who didn’t play well for five weeks before winning twice in the Big Ten tournament) and the Cowboys (who beat one tournament team — Cal State Fullerton — outside of Laramie,) were debatable picks.And so it unfolded, the fifth-seeded Gaels pulverizing Indiana, 82-53, in Portland, Ore., on Thursday. A really strong Saint Mary’s team moved on, as it should have.But it was also an unnecessary logistical mess, shipping the winner of that First Four game from Dayton, Ohio, to Portland, Ore., when the NCAA could have sent it to Buffalo, to meet Connecticut while New Mexico State stayed out West and played Saint Mary’s without compromising any bracket principles.The point of the event is — or, perhaps more accurately, one of the points of the event should be — to create as fair and equitable a tournament as possible. It’s the NCAA’s biggest moneymaker, its most high-profile event and there shouldn’t be corner-cutting or needless oversights like the one that sent Indiana across the country to play on less than 48 hours rest.
10:05 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
Kentucky had never suffered an opening-weekend, bracket-demolishing loss in the NCAA tournament since seeding began in 1979.At least until Thursday night.The Wildcats’ 85-79 overtime loss to Saint Peter’s is easily the most stunning in the postseason in the last four decades. Kentucky had previously lost to No. 11 seeds Middle Tennessee State (as a No. 6 seed in the 1982 first round) and LSU (as a No. 1 seed in a 1986 regional final).Saint Peter’s, the Metro Atlantic champion making just its fourth NCAA appearance, earned its first tournament victory and became the 10th No. 2 seed to make it to the round of 32.The full list:1991: No. 15 Richmond 73, No. 2 Syracuse 691993: No. 15 Santa Clara 64, No. 2 Arizona 611997: No. 15 Coppin State 78, No. 2 South Carolina 652001: No. 15 Hampton 58, No. 2 Iowa State 572012: No. 15 Lehigh 75, No. 2 Duke 702012: No. 15 Norfolk State 86, No. 2 Missouri 842013: No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast 78, No. 2 Georgetown 682016: No. 15 Middle Tennessee 90, No. 2 Michigan State 812021: No. 15 Oral Roberts 75, No. 2 Ohio State 72 (OT)2022: No. 15 Saint Peter’s 85, No. 2 Kentucky 79 (OT)
9:55 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
New Mexico State has the well-traveled Teddy Allen to thank for ending its 29-year NCAA tournament drought. Allen dropped 37 points in the Aggies’ 70-63 defeat of Connecticut, ending the program’s 12-game skid in the tournament.But nearly as remarkable as the Western Athletic Conference champion’s first NCAA victory since beating Nebraska in a 7/10 game in 1993 is just what the fans in Buffalo were treated to today. Combined with Richmond’s defeat of Iowa, it marks just the fifth time that a pair of No. 12 seeds have defeated a pair of No. 5s in the same building on the same day.That wasn’t possible until the NCAA instituted the pod system in 2002, so it isn’t as rare as you might guess. Still, here’s the full list of sites that have doubled up on a dozen over the last 20 years.2008 TampaNo. 12 Villanova 75, No. 5 Clemson 69 No. 12 Western Kentucky 101, No. 5 Drake 99 (OT)2013 San JoseNo. 12 Oregon 68, No. 5 Oklahoma State 55 No. 12 California 64, No. 5 UNLV 612014 SpokaneNo. 12 Harvard 61, No. 5 Cincinnati 57 No. 12 North Dakota State 80, No. 5 Oklahoma 75 (OT)2019 San JoseNo. 12 Liberty 80, No. 5 Mississippi State 76 No. 12 Oregon 72, No. 5 Wisconsin 542022 BuffaloNo. 12 Richmond 67, No. 5 Iowa 63 No. 12 New Mexico State 70, No. 5 Connecticut 63
7:23 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
North Carolina sure looked like a bit of a wild card as a No. 8 seed, what with its 24-9 record entering the NCAA tournament, 12 victories in 14 games before an ACC tournament loss to Virginia Tech and takedowns of Duke on the road by 13 points and Virginia on a neutral court by 20 this month.But the Tar Heels demolishing Marquette, 95-63 — the program’s seventh biggest rout in its storied NCAA tournament history — is … well, it’s wild.45: No. 1 North Carolina 112, No. 8 Rhode Island 67 (1993 second round)43: No. 1 North Carolina 101, No. 16 Radford 58 (2009 first round)39: No. 1 North Carolina 113, No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s 74 (2008 first round) 39: No. 1 North Carolina 103, No. 16 Texas Southern 64 (2017 first round)36: No. 1 North Carolina 88, No. 16 Navy 52 (1998 first round)35: No. 1 North Carolina 101, No. 16 Northeastern 66 (1991 first round)32: No. 8 North Carolina 95, No. 9 Marquette 63 (2022 first round)31: No. 1 North Carolina 113, No. 16 Penn 82 (1987 first round) 31: No. 1 North Carolina 108, No. 9 Arkansas 77 (2008 second round)It’s worth noting that in the six previous times Carolina won an NCAA game by at least 32 points, it went on to win three national titles three times (1993, 2009 and 2017) and played in the Final Four the three other times (1991, 1998 and 2008).
7:10 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
For a while there, it looked like Gonzaga was in some real trouble.The final margin of the top seed’s 93-72 victory over Sun Belt champion Georgia State belies how things were a little dicey in the second half. Maybe not quite to the “cue-up-2018-Maryland Baltimore County-over-Virginia-highlights” level of anxiety, but close enough.The Panthers led 54-52 with 13 minutes to go and were still within a possession at the under-12 TV timeout. Then a 21-0 run from Gonzaga dashed any chance of the second 16-over-1 upset in men’s tournament history.Instead, Gonzaga walked away with its seventh-most lopsided NCAA tournament victory in program history.
6:06 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
Add another page to Richmond’s remarkable NCAA tournament history.The 12th-seeded Spiders’ 67-63 defeat of fifth-seeded Iowa marks the sixth time in the program’s 10 NCAA trips that it has won a game. But it hasn’t come easy; each of those six postseason trips with a victory has included one upset of a No. 5 seed or better.1984: No. 12 Richmond 72, No. 5 Auburn 711988: No. 13 Richmond 72, No. 4 Indiana 69 1988: No. 13 Richmond 59, No. 5 Georgia Tech 551991: No. 15 Richmond 73, No. 2 Syracuse 691998: No. 14 Richmond 62, No. 3 South Carolina 612011: No. 12 Richmond 69, No. 5 Vanderbilt 662022: No. 12 Richmond 67, No. 5 Iowa 63The Spiders (24-12) have a pair of Sweet 16 trips to their credit, in 1988 and again in 2011. After Jacob Gilyard’s 24-point, six-rebound, six-assist game against the previously sizzling Hawkeyes, Richmond has only fourth-seeded Providence between it and a third regional semifinal appearance.
5:12 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
There’s only so much to say about underseeded Tennessee’s 88-56 thumping of Longwood.The Volunteers (27-7) shot 60 percent from the floor, 58.3 percent from three-point range and had five players reach double figures (led by Santiago Vescovi’s 18 points, seven assists and one turnover in 29 minutes).And with that, Tennessee recorded the most lopsided NCAA tournament victory in coach Rick Barnes’s long career, which includes 26 appearances with four schools (Providence, Clemson, Texas and Tennessee):32: Tennessee 88, Longwood 56, 2022 first round26: Tennessee 73, Wright State 47, 2018 first round21: Texas 82, UNC Asheville 61, 2003 first round21: Texas 75, N.C. State 54, 2006 second round20: Texas 74, Austin Peay 54, 2008 first round20: Texas 82, Stanford 62, 2008 Sweet 16One game, of course, won’t be remembered if the Vols flame out before the Final Four. Nonetheless, this was a continuation of two stellar months for Tennessee, which is 16-2 with an SEC tournament title since getting pounded 107-79 at Kentucky on Jan. 15.There is a lot for Big South champion Longwood (26-7) to celebrate about its first Division I tournament trip. But the Lancers definitely drew a short straw in having to deal with the Vols in the first round.
4:48 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
Let’s appreciate top-seeded Baylor’s 85-49 drubbing of Norfolk State for what it is: The rarer-than-you-think first-round blowout by a defending national champion.Consider how the last 10 defending champs fared in the following tournament:2021: Virginia (2019 champ) lost to Ohio, 62-582019: Villanova beat Saint Mary’s, 61-572018: North Carolina beat Lipscomb, 84-662017: Villanova beat Mount St. Mary’s, 76-562016: Duke beat UNC Wilmington, 93-852015: Connecticut missed tournament2014: Louisville beat Manhattan, 71-642013: Kentucky missed tournament2012: Connecticut lost to Iowa State, 77-642011: Duke, beat Hampton, 87-45It's the most lopsided first-round victory for a defending champ in 11 years, and only the third since then by double figures. Even those weren’t on cruise control immediately. Villanova led Mount St. Mary’s by a point at halftime in 2017. North Carolina was tied with Lipscomb with less than four minutes to go in the first half in 2018.Baylor? Even while dealing with injuries, the Bears (27-6) bolted to a 16-5 lead over the MEAC champion Spartans (24-7) and led by double figures for the final 32:44 behind Matthew Mayer’s 22 points.
4:25 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
For those who might not have seen much (or any) of Memphis over the course of the season, the ninth-seeded Tigers’ 64-53 defeat of Boise State in Portland, Ore., in Thursday’s first round offered a good glimpse of what Penny Hardaway’s team is about.Memphis’ most striking facet is its athleticism, which it unleashed to claim a 19-point halftime lead. But it is also bedeviled by turnovers, and it had 10 in the second half to allow the eighth-seeded Broncos (27-8) to close within five on a couple occasions.That extended history of giveaways — Memphis ranks 352nd out of 358 teams in KenPom.com’s turnover percentage metric — makes it hard to fully trust the Tigers against truly elite competition.But that’s a problem for another day — quite possibly Saturday, when the Tigers (22-10) are likely to play top-seeded Gonzaga.For now, let’s acknowledge Memphis for what it is: A defensively gifted team (though not as stingy as last season) that has won 13 of its last 15 and just notched its first victory over a higher-seeded team since the 1995 second round (a 6/3 defeat of Purdue). The Tigers stand one victory away from their first trip to the second weekend since 2009, John Calipari’s final year with the program.
2:56 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
No one with the possible exception of Wisconsin is at home in tight games this season as Providence, and it surely helped the fourth-seeded Friars when they found themselves in a predictably tight first round game against Summit League champ South Dakota State.But more than any intangible, Providence has defended far more often than not this season, and it has that end of the floor to thank for its 66-57 victory in Buffalo.The 13th-seeded Jackrabbits (30-4) easily led the country with a 44.9 three-point shooting percentage and had won 21 in a row coming into the day. But Providence held them to 7 of 23 from the outside, a modest-by-nearly-any-standard 30.4 percent day.It was a methodical day for a methodical team. Providence led by as many as 14, saw the advantage trimmed to three a couple times in the closing minutes and then finished off yet another tight victory.Bottom line: Providence is now 16-2 in games decided by single-digit margins. And they’re not done with what is arguably already the program’s most memorable season in a quarter-century — if not since its 1987 Final Four run.
2:39 p.m.
By
Patrick Stevens
College sports
The 11-over-6 spot on the Bingo card got crossed off in a hurry, and Michigan offered up a microcosm of its up-and-down, traction-free season as it took down Colorado State, 75-63. The 11th-seeded Wolverines (18-14) didn’t play well in the slightest in the first half, understandably sloppy with starting point guard DeVante’ Jones sidelined after getting concussed in practice. Michigan fumbled away nine turnovers in 32 possessions in the first half, and it is little wonder it trailed by 15 at one point.But by taking better care of the ball (six second-half turnovers), finally making a few timely three-pointers (4 of 7 from three in the second half) and forcing the Rams into more outside shots than they’d like, the Wolverines made it through to the second round.Michigan has alternated wins and losses for its last 11 games, which is hardly a vote of confidence for Saturday, but the Wolverines did ensure a No. 11 seed made it into the round of 32 for the sixth consecutive tournament. No. 11s are now 12-9 against No. 6 seeds in that span.
Loading...