Give those Harvard kids an A-plus in another subject: Bracketbusting 101.
Wesley Saunders scored 18 points and Laurent Rivard made five 3-pointers to help the 14th-seeded Crimson pull the biggest upset in Thursday’s flurry of NCAA Tournament games, a 68-62 win over No. 3 New Mexico.
The Ivy League advanced for the first time since a very good Cornell team made the regional semifinals in 2010. The Mountain West Conference, judged one of the top two leagues in college basketball all season, fell to 1-3 so far this week.
While it may have been upset — Harvard’s first-ever win in three measly trips to the tournament — it didn’t look anything like a fluke.
The Crimson (20-9) put the clamps down on New Mexico’s Tony Snell, holding him to nine points on 4-for-12 shooting after he dominated in the MWC tournament. They banged inside with Lobos big men Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, whose 22 points provided New Mexico’s only consistent offense.
Mostly, they showed none of the jitters that marked their trip to the tournament last year – a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt in Harvard’s first NCAA appearance since 1946.
“YYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!! HARVARD winssss!!! hahahahhah i told you” tweeted Jeremy Lin, Harvard’s most famous basketball alumnus.
Rivard went 6 of 7 from 3 against Vandy — played on New Mexico’s home court in The Pit – and was clearly pumped for an encore. He was 5 of 9 this time, with three of them coming in the first half, while Harvard was holding a small lead and, more importantly, answering every surge the Lobos (29-6) threw at them. Rivard finished with 17 points.
Tommy Amaker outcoached his contemporary, Steve Alford, exacting revenge of sorts from when Alford’s Indiana team beat Amaker and Duke back in the 1987 regional semifinals.
Based on their regular-season and conference tournament wins, the Lobos were a popular pick to head to the Final Four this season. The school even gave Alford a new, 10-year contract Wednesday that called for a $125,000 bonus for a Final Four trip.
Gonzaga 64, Southern 58
SALT LAKE CITY — Still don’t think Gonzaga deserved that No. 1 seed? There might be a few more doubters now.
Entering the NCAA Tournament top-seeded and top-ranked for the first time in program history, the Zags nearly made another kind of history Thursday — coming only a few minutes and a rimmed-out shot or two from becoming the first 1 to lose to a 16.’
Gonzaga prevailed 64-58 over Southern University in a game that wasn’t safely in hand until the final buzzer sounded. No. 1 seeds improved to 113-0 since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Kelly Olynyk led the Zags (32-2) with 21 points, though it was a pair of 3-pointers – one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pagnos – that gave Gonzaga its small cushion after Southern (23-10) tied things at 56 with 3:45 left.
Bell’s 3 made it 59-56 after Derick Beltran hit a 14-footer on the baseline to close out a 15-4 Southern run and tie the game.
Beltran hit two free throws to cut the deficit to one, but Gonzaga responded by working the ball to Pagnos, whose 3 made it a four-point game.
Yondarius Johnson and Malcom Miller both had open looks on the next possession for Southern but neither could convert.
Pagnos (16 points) made two free throws with 14.3 seconds left to seal the deal. But when Zags coach Mark Few shook hands with his counterpart, Roman Banks, at midcourt, it was hard to tell who won; Banks looked like he was doing the consoling.
Arizona 81, Belmont 64
SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Lyons scored 23 points and sixth-seeded Arizona rolled past Belmont.
The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who are 0-6 in tourney games. Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot the Bruins from 3-point range.
The Wildcats made 9 of 17 3-pointers, including a critical one from Solomon Hill with 4:40 remaining to stop an 11-2 Belmont run, and shot 57 percent overall.
Bruins guard Ian Clark entered shooting better than 46 percent from 3-point range but was 3 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Kerron Johnson led Belmont with 22 points and Clark finished with 21.
Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson added 12 points each for Arizona, which will play Harvard on Saturday.
Wichita State 73, Pittsburgh 55
SALT LAKE CITY — Malcolm Armstead scored 22 points, Cleanthony Early added 21 and ninth-seeded Wichita State defeated eighth-seeded Pittsburgh 73-55.
Freshman Steven Adams led Pitt (24-9) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Call Hall added 11 points for the Shockers (27-8), who face Gonzaga in the third round Saturday.
The Shockers forced Pitt into 15 turnovers and held the Panthers to 35 percent shooting, including 1 of 17 from 3-point range.
Pitt’s leading scorer, Tray Woodall, missed his first four shots and finished with two points. He shot 1 of 12, including 0 of 5 from beyond the arc, with five turnovers.
The Shockers scored 21 points off turnovers and took advantage at the free throw line, making 33 of 41 attempts.
Wichita State led 26-21 at the break but nearly doubled its offensive output in the second half.
Early’s layup and two free throws by Armstead pushed Wichita State’s lead to 30-21 early in the second half. Durand Johnson’s 3-pointer cut it to 30-26, and the Panthers were within 35-31 following a three-point play by James Robinson. Tekele Cotton answered with a 3-pointer to bump the Shockers’ lead to 38-31.
Hall’s three-point play with under 12 minutes left gave the Shockers a 10-point lead, 41-31. Pitt pulled within six after four free throws but the Shockers went on a 6-0 run, fueled by a pair of steals, a dunk by Cotton and two more free throws by Early for a 47-35 advantage with 10:13 left.
It was another early exit for the Panthers, who failed to make the field last year, and were knocked out by Butler in their second game in 2011.
Syracuse 81, Montana 34
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Brandon Triche scored 20 points, C.J. Fair added 13 and the fourth-seeded Orange shut down No. 13 seed Montana with their zone defense in a 81-34 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.
Michael Carter-Williams chipped in four points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the Orange (27-9) raced out to an early lead that grew as high as 50 points and coasted past the Grizzlies (25-7) to their most lopsided tournament win since beating Brown 101-52 in the first round in 1986.
Syracuse advanced to play 12th-seeded and local favorite California (21-11) on Saturday for a spot in the East regional in Washington, D.C. next week. The Golden Bears beat UNLV 64-61.
The Orange led by 23 points at halftime and then turned it into a laugher with a 17-2 run to open the second half. Trevor Cooney's 3-pointer midway through the second half made it 62-20.
For the second straight year, the Grizzlies won the Big Sky tournament to earn an NCAA tournament bid only to fall flat in their opener. They fell 73-49 to Wisconsin a year ago, shooting 38 percent for the game, including a 3-for-14 performance from star guard Will Cherry.
The Grizzlies, playing without injured leading scorer Mathias Ward, shot just 20 percent (11 for 54), missed 27 of 31 3-pointers and had more turnovers (17) than made baskets.
California 64, UNLV 61
SAN JOSE, Calif. —Allen Crabbe had 19 points and nine rebounds, reserve Robert Thurman scored all 12 of his points on dunks and 12th-seeded California held off UNLV.
Buoyed by the crowd support of a strong contingent so close to Berkeley, the Golden Bears (21-11) held the Runnin’ Rebels (25-10) without a basket for more than 11 minutes in the second half. Cal turned a tie game into a nine-point lead during that stretch and withstood a late UNLV push for its first tournament win since 2010.
The fifth-seeded Rebels rallied to within a point in the final seconds before missed free throws and a costly inbounds pass sealed the loss.
Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 15 points and Anthony Bennett shook off a poor start to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds for UNLV, which beat Cal 76-75 in Berkeley on Dec. 9.
Marquette 59, Davidson 58
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Vander Blue’s layup with one second left capped Marquette’s rally from a nine-point deficit and gave the third-seeded Golden Eagles a 59-58 victory over Davidson Thursday in the NCAA tournament.
Blue and Jamil Wilson made consecutive 3-pointers to bring Marquette within 58-57 with 11 seconds left. The Golden Eagles then caught a huge break when De’Mon Brooks’ long inbounds pass went out of bounds at midcourt with 5.5 seconds left, providing another opportunity.
Blue took full advantage after getting Wilson’s inbounds pass, driving left and finding room for the winning basket. He then sealed Marquette’s improbable win by stealing Davidson’s last-ditch inbounds pass at midcourt to set off a celebration among players and Golden Eagles fans at Rupp Arena.
Blue scored seven of Marquette’s final 11 points to finish with 16. Wilson added 14 points as the Golden Eagles (24-8) won for the fifth time in six games and advanced to face Butler in Saturday’s third-round game.
Jake Cohen’s 20 points led Davidson (26-8), who seemed in control leading 49-40 with 6 1 / 2 minutes left before Marquette rallied.
Butler 68, Bucknell 56
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Sorry, Bucknell. This year’s Butler is still Butler.
Andrew Smith had a double-double with a career-high 16 rebounds and 14 points, and Butler made 18 of 20 free throws down the stretch to hold off upset-minded Bucknell 68-56. Roosevelt Jones added 14 points for the sixth-seeded Bulldogs, back in the tournament for the first time since making back-to-back runs to the national title game.
Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke was just 5-of-14. But he went 5-of-6 from the line – all in the final 2:59 – and finished with 17 points in his first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Joe Willman had a career-high 20 points, and 11th-seeded Bucknell made a game of it with a 19-2 run in the second half. But it couldn’t overcome an off day by two-time Patriot League Player of the year Mike Muscala, who had nine points, only the second time this season he’s failed to reach double figures. Going almost five minutes without scoring late in the second half didn’t help, either.
Butler (27-8) will now face Marquette on Saturday in the East Region.
Little Butler’s appearances in the championship game gave hope to little guys everywhere – they nearly knocked off Duke in 2010, with Gordon Hayward’s half-court heave clanking off the rim – and Bucknell hoped to pull off an upset of its own Thursday. They have it in their DNA, having knocked off third-seeded Kansas in 2005, one of the tournament’s classic upsets.
And for a while, it looked as if Bucknell might just beat Butler at its own game.
Louisville 79, North Carolina A&T 48
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Pay attention, No. 1s. This is how it’s done.
Russ Smith scored 23 points and set a Louisville NCAA tournament record with a career-high eight steals, and Peyton Siva had eight assists as the Cardinals demolished North Carolina A&T.
Louisville finished with a season-high 20 steals as it forced the Aggies (20-17) into 27 turnovers. It was the 11th straight win for the Cardinals (30-5), who will play Colorado State or Missouri on Saturday.
Rick Pitino and the Big East champions quickly ended a postseason run for the Aggies, who finally earned their first NCAA tournament win on Tuesday. Bruce Beckford led North Carolina A&T with 12 points.
Oregon 68, Oklahoma St. 55
SAN JOSE, Calif. — With their outside shots falling and their defense harassing Oklahoma State all afternoon, the Oregon Ducks played well above their disappointing seeding and into the next round of the NCAA tournament.
Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon extend a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament by beating the fifth-seeded Cowboys 68-55 in the second round on Thursday.
Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Oregon advanced to play fourth-seeded St Louis (27-6) on Saturday for a spot in the Midwest regional in Indianapolis next week. The Billikens beat New Mexico State 64-44.
The selection committee raised some eyebrows when Oregon was given a 12 seed despite tying for second place in the Pac-12 in the regular season, winning the conference tournament and going 21-4 with Artis in the lineup.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said before the game that the Ducks looked nothing like a 12 seed and that was proven true in their tournament opener with the way they shut down Smart and hit their outside shots. Oregon’s eight 3-pointers were their most since having nine in December against Houston Baptist.
Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5 for 13 shooting a disappointing finish to a stellar season for the Cowboys (24-9).
It was the Ducks’ freshmen backcourt that shined on this night with Dotson hitting three 3-pointers in the first half to help build the lead and Artis shining on both ends.
Smart picked a bad time for one of his worst performances. He turned the ball over five times, missed four of eight free throws and was unable to exploit his decided size advantage against Artis and Johnathan Loyd on the offensive end.
He didn’t get much help either outside of Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash.
Memphis 54, Saint Mary’s 52
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer from the right wing sailed long as time expired, allowing sixth-seeded Memphis to hold on for a 54-52 win over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s.
The Tigers (31-4) led by 15 in the first half but nearly gave the game away in the final seconds. With Saint Mary’s (28-7) down five, Eividas Petrulis banked in a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play. Memphis then lost the ball when Jordan Giusti deflected the inbound pass off Joe Jackson of the Tigers and out of bounds.
Dellavedova, the career leader in scoring for the Gaels, was able to get a shot off from in front of his team’s bench, but it was well long, missing everything.
Colorado State 84, Missouri 72
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State used good shooting and great rebounding to run away from No. 9 Missouri 84-72.
Green, who went scoreless with five turnovers in last year's second-round upset to Murray State, did much better this time as the Rams shot nearly 58 percent in the first half.
Minnesota transfer and Rams big man Colton Iverson outrebounded Missouri by himself through 27 minutes and finished with 13 boards.
First-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy earned the victory with his fourth tournament team, but the road gets tougher as they advance to face top-seeded Louisville in Saturday's third-round Midwest Regional game at Rupp Arena.
Phil Pressey's 20 points led the Tigers (23-11).
Greg Smith and Jon Octeus each added 12 points while Wes Eikmeier added 11 for Colorado State (26-8), which was rarely threatened by Missouri.
The lopsided outcome was surprising considering the teams' similarities that made this an intriguing matchup.
Missouri closed to 49-45 early in the second half, but the Rams responded with a 17-4 surge for their biggest lead at 66-49 lead.
Saint Louis 64, New Mexico State 44
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dwayne Evans scored 24 points, Cody Ellis added 12 points and fourth-seeded Saint Louis overwhelmed New Mexico State 64-44 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Thursday.
Playing through the death of Rick Majerus in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team’s school record of 27 victories.
Evans shot 11 of 16 and finished a point shy of his career best to propel Saint Louis past 7-foot-5 New Mexico State freshman Sim Bhullar. The Billikens held Bhullar to four points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Bandja Sy had 17 points and nine rebounds for the 13th-seeded Aggies (24-11), who shot just 28 percent.
Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 54
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Derrick Nix got a pass down low, backed up his beefy body to put an opponent on his back and scored.
For much of Michigan State’s NCAA tournament-opening win, it was as easy as giving Nix the ball and getting out of his way.
Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power the third-seeded Spartans past 14th-seeded Valparaiso 65-54 on Thursday with an inspired effort by their only senior.
“It’s my last go-around,” he said. “And, I’m not ready to be done yet.”
The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control, and cruised to an easy victory much to the delight of a crowd filled with green-clad fans at the home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
Their hard-driving coach, though, wasn’t totally satisfied because he said a “sluggish” start was followed up by a “disgusting,” finish.
“I was pleased with about 33, 34 minutes of that game,” Tom Izzo said.
Michigan State (26-8) will play Memphis- on Saturday when the Spartans will be shooting for a spot in the round of 16 for the fifth time in six years.
The Crusaders (26-8) were no match for Michigan State in their first NCAA tourney in nine years, just as they weren’t as a first-round loser in 2000 to the eventual champion Spartans.
Valpo had enough size to match up, but didn’t have enough strength.
“We were a little overpowering inside,” Izzo said.
The Crusaders didn’t seem worried about the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Nix when asked about him the day before the game.
Nix had nine points in the first half and when he made his fourth shot to put Michigan State ahead 32-12, he had as many field goals as the Crusaders’ entire team. That basket was scored after backing down Bobby Capobianco so much that the 6-10, 245-pound forward fell on his back as if he was hit by a linebacker. Nix scored 14 in the second half, two points shy of matching his career high.
The Spartans missed 32 shots and corralled many of them, jumping up and hustling across the court for 20 offensive rebounds to help them have a 49-23 advantage in a facet of the game that Izzo’s teams have done consistently during their streak of 16 straight NCAA tournaments.
“When they are on their game, they can play with any team in the country,” Capobianco said.
Michigan 71, South Dakota 56
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan overcome a rough night for star Trey Burke.
Burke made only two field goals and left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall under the basket. The star point guard came back after that, but he finished with only six points.
Michigan (27-7) advanced anyway behind Robinson, McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 21 points.
South Dakota State (25-10), the 13th seed, trailed by only four at halftime but couldn’t keep up. High-scoring guard Nate Wolters was held to only 10 points.
Burke was held in single digits for the first time all season.
Michigan plays VCU on Saturday.
VCU 88, Akron 42
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — VCU set an NCAA tournament record with the largest victory by a fifth-seeded team over a No. 12.
And it could've been an even bigger rout.
Troy Daniels had 23 points, Juvonte Reddic scored 21 and the Rams throttled Akron 88-42.
The previous mark by a fifth-seeded team against a 12th-seeded squad was set by Wyoming in a 35-point win over Howard in 1981 and matched by Tennessee against Long Beach State in 2007, according to STATS.
The Rams (27-8) will play fourth-seeded Michigan on Saturday for a spot in the round of 16.
Akron (26-7) was seriously short-handed, and it showed.
In addition to playing without suspended point guard Alex Abreu, the Zips had other problems as well. Starting guard Brian Walsh and reserve center Pat Forsythe were limited by the flu, and reserve guard Deji Ibitayo wasn't even in uniform because of back spasms.
The way VCU played, though, Akron might've had a lot of trouble even if it was at full strength.
VCU looks as though it might have what it takes to make another run in the NCAA tournament. But unlike its 2011 trip to the Final Four, hardly anyone would be shocked if the Rams win three more games to reach the national semifinals.
Rams coach Shaka Smart wants his players to wreak havoc with a full-court press and a fast-paced offense, and they did just that against the Zips.
Without Abreu, who was arrested on drug trafficking charges two weeks ago, Akron struggled to simply get the ball to the other end of the court.
VCU forced 22 turnovers and gave up the ball just seven times – at least once at the end of the game on purpose – to narrowly miss another feat. Since 1990, the largest turnover differential when one team had seven or fewer turnovers was 16 set by Syracuse in 1996 against Mississippi State and matched by Utah State against Ohio State in 2001, according to STATS.