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The Good And Bad From The Opening Round Of March Madness 2016

Bronson Koenig's buzzer beating three pointer defeated Xavier to cap an incredible opening four days of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

The Good And Bad From The Opening Round Of March Madness 2016

The 2016 version of March Madness has been just that: Madness. Brackets were busted early and then completely blown up by the end of the first round. For as much fun as the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament has been, there have been some bad parts of it as well. Below we will take a look at the good and bad from the first four days of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament

The Good

  1. Upsets Galore – #15 Middle Tennessee defeated one of the National Title favorites and #2 seed Michigan State in the first round. Double digit seeds won left and right (#13 Hawaii over #4 Cal, #11 Wichita State over #6 Arizona, #12 Yale over #5 Baylor, #11 Northern Iowa over #6 Texas, #10 VCU over #7 Oregon State, #10 Syracuse over #7 Dayton, #11 Gonzaga over #6 Seton Hall, #12 Arkansas-Little Rock over #5 Purdue, and #14 Stephen F. Austin over #3 West Virginia). That all made for some great action, particularly on Friday.
  2. The ACC – The Atlantic Coast Conference has put a record 6 teams through to the Sweet 16 (Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke, Syracuse, and Virginia). That is incredible to have 38% of the remaining field, but it also came down to some favorable matchups like Syracuse against Middle Tennessee. However, that is no fault of the ACC as their teams delivered.
  3. “Mid-Majors” – This was a good tournament for the upsets (see above), but the “Mid-Majors” got plenty of support in close games and some great stories. Stephen F. Austin got 33 points from Thomas Walkup, who played incredibly against West Virginia and had a solid game against Notre Dame. Yale won their first ever Tournament game against Baylor. Hawaii defeated Cal. Northern Iowa captivated the nation not once, but twice against teams from the state of Texas. First it was Texas and this buzzer beater, but then it was their collapse against Texas A&M. Saint Joseph’s played a great second round game against top seeded Oregon. Finally, Middle Tennessee going toe-to-toe with Michigan State was easily the biggest story of the first round. Mid-Majors should not be discounted in the future when picking brackets.
  4. The #1 Seeds – The top four seeds in the Tournament all looked good on the first weekend, but also faced some competition at times. Kansas took a big lead against UConn before that dwindled, but the Jayhawks fended off that challenge. North Carolina had a close first half against Florida Gulf Coast and Providence, but dominated the second half of those games to pull away. Virginia and Oregon had tough second round games against Butler and Saint Joseph’s, respectively. However, they were able to get through those games and move to the Sweet 16. The top seeds look mighty tough, but this is March Madness afterall and we have seen that anything is possible.

The Bad

  1. Brackets – Michigan State was picked to win a lot of brackets and their upset loss ended any hopes of a prefect bracket on CBS Sports. The Spartans’ loss did other damage to Final Four picks as well according to CBS Sports. Here is my 2017 New Year’s Resolution: Do not fill out a bracket.
  2. The Referees – The inconsistency of the officials calling the Tournament made it frustrating to watch at times. Between Duke and UNC-Wilmington, the referees called every soft foul imaginable while other games would let them play. Constant foul calling stems the flow of the game for TV viewers, but how frustrating must that be for a player on the floor? One thing that needs to be looked at is how much contact to allow. It does come down to each referee, but how can one game have a foul called 80 feet from the basket for putting a hand on a player’s hip and another not call a push off?
  3. Game Management – You can call this the Northern Iowa Special. The Panthers blew a 12 point lead with 35 seconds left in the game and then lost in double overtime to Texas A&M. They are not the only team to make questionable calls though. Xavier was up three in the final 10 seconds, but opted not to foul the Badgers’ shooters. Wisconsin subsequently tied the game and then Bronson Koenig hit a three at the buzzer to end Xavier’s season. Purdue deserves mention as well for letting Little Rock comeback late in the game and losing in double OT. There was also near comebacks by Wichita State (trailed 27-6 to Miami) and Yale (down as much as 27 to Duke), but those two were not able to complete the miracle comebacks.
  4. Seeding/Selection Committee – The NCAA Basketball Selection Committee did a bad job selecting teams last Sunday. It turns out they did a bad job of seeding the teams as well. Stephen F. Austin deserved better than a 14 seed as did Middle Tennessee at 15. And this was before the games were played. It is easy to pile on the Committee after the fact, but some of the seeding was questionable beforehand. In addition, the scheduling for Wichita State was brutal. The Shockers had a late game on Tuesday, late game on Thursday, and an early game on Saturday, which may have contributed to them starting as flat as they did.
  5. Wisconsin versus Pittsburgh – This was about as ugly a game to watch in recent tournament memory. The Badgers won 47-43 after scoring only 16 points in the first half. The teams combined to go 35 of 101 from the field and 7 of 30 from beyond the arc. The 90 total points were the fewest since 2000 in the NCAA Tournament. The game was wretched, but Badger fans felt greatest about the result and were lifted in the second round too.

Let’s hope the final two weekends give us as much entertainment as the first weekend provided.

Big Second Half Lifts Wichita State Over Vanderbilt

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)
Wichita State had an excellent second half to pull away from Vanderbilt and move on to the First Round to face Arizona on Thursday. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

Big Second Half Lifts Wichita State Over Vanderbilt

Wichita State fended off Vanderbilt by outscoring them 20-2 to end the game and win 70-50. The top duo of Fred VanVleet and Rod Baker (plus 9 rebounds) both finished with 14 points as the joint-top scorers for Wichita State. Vanderbilt also had joint-top scorers in Joe Toye and Riley LaChance with 10 points each.

The first half was a back and forth affair with neither team able to get an upper hand. Vanderbilt led 30-25 inside the final two minutes, but four points from the free throw line by Baker helped the first half end in a 30-30 tie.

Wichita State started the second half the way the ended the first: on a run. They scored the first 11 points of the final 20 minutes to open a 41-30 lead with Baker and VanVleet scoring all of those points. Vandy was able to battle back to make it a 50-48 deficit with approximately 8 minutes left, but head coach Kevin Stallings was called for a technical foul. While the foul only led to one point, Wichita State was able to seize the momentum and end the game on a 20-2 run. The Commodores only points came via the charity stripe with less than three minutes left to play.

Vanderbilt’s season has come to a close with a 19-14 record. Their performance will leave some to question the Selection Committee’s decision to include them in the field as well. Vandy shot the ball terribly going 16 of 53 (30.2%) and just 3 of 19 from behind the arc (15.8%). They connected on 15 of 26 free throws (57.7%). Behind Toye’s and LaChance’s 10 points apiece, Luke Kornet nearly had a double-double with 8 points and 9 rebounds.

The Shockers have now won a tournament game each year since 2013. Wichita State (25-8) will now move on to face Arizona on Thursday at 9:20 PM Eastern Time in the South Regional First Round. The Shockers went 22 of 59 from the field (37.3%) and 7 of 19 from beyond the three point line (36.8%) including 7 of 12 in the second half. They shot 19 of 25 (76%) from the free throw line as well. Anton Grady finished as the #3 scorer for Wichita State on the night with 11 points and also had 7 rebounds.

2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament First Four Schedule

John Beilein and Michigan still have a chance to make some noise this season starting with First Four. They play Tulsa on Wednesday, March 16. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)
John Beilein and Michigan still have a chance to make some noise this season starting with First Four. They play Tulsa on Wednesday, March 16. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America)

2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament First Four Schedule

The First Four games are now known with announcement of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament teams. There will be two games played on Tuesday, March 15 and two more played on Wednesday, March 16. All four games will be played in Dayton, Ohio and can be seen on TruTV. The schedule for the First Four games is broken down below by date.

First Four Games – Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#16 Florida Gulf Coast versus #16 Fairleigh Dickinson will be played at 6:40 PM Eastern Time with winner facing #1 North Carolina in the East Region on Thursday, March 17.

The second game will be played at 9:10 PM Eastern Time between #11 Vanderbilt and #11 Wichita State. The winner of that contest will play #6 Arizona on Thursday, March 17 in the South Region.

Date Time (EST) Team #1 Road Score Team #2 Home Score TV Location Regional
3/15/2016 6:40 PM #16 Fairleigh Dickinson 65 #16 Florida Gulf Coast  96 TruTV Dayton, Ohio East
3/15/2016 9:10 PM #11 Wichita State  70 #11 Vanderbilt  50 TruTV Dayton, Ohio South

First Four Games – Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#16 Holy Cross plays #16 Southern in the first Wednesday game starting at 6:40 PM Eastern Time. The winner will move on to #1 Oregon in the West Region on Friday, March 18.

The final First Four game will be #11 Michigan and #11 Tulsa with a start time of 8:10 PM Eastern Time. Whichever team comes out on top will then move on to face #6 Notre Dame on Friday, March 18 in the East Region.

Date Time (EST) Team #1 Road Score Team #2 Home Score TV Location Regional
3/16/2016 6:40 PM #16 Holy Cross  59 #16 Southern  55 TruTV Dayton, Ohio West
3/16/2016 9:10 PM #11 Tulsa  62 #11 Michigan 67 TruTV Dayton, Ohio East

Check back for the first and second round schedules.