March Madness brings back the most exciting time of the year. First-round upsets continued Friday, highlighted by No. 13 Yale’s dramatic win over No. 4 Auburn. Additionally, No. 12 James Madison handled No. 5 Wisconsin to advance to the Round of 32 for the first time since 1983. Grand Canyon, another No. 12 seed, upset No. 5 Saint Mary’s to record the program’s first NCAA Tournament win.

There was also a tight battle between No. 10 Colorado and No. 7 Florida that the Buffaloes won on a last-second jumper, and an overtime victory by No. 9 Northwestern over No. 8 FAU earlier in the day.

Powerhouses like UConn, Duke, Baylor, Purdue and Houston avoided upsets with ease.

Below is the full recap of Friday’s action-packed schedule of the 2024 men’s NCAA Tournament.

Yale upsets Auburn in East Region

Auburn is the latest team to go down to an upset in the NCAA Tournament as it dropped a 78-76 decision to Yale in the first round Friday.

The Bulldogs, seeded 13th in the East Region, were led by John Poulakidas, who finished with 28 points.

The SEC is 1-5 in the first round at the NCAA Tournament, with all the losses to lower seeds. — Daniel Shirley

GO DEEPER

No. 13 Yale upsets No. 4 Auburn in dramatic final moments

JMU keeps dancing

BROOKLYN — It was an upset that hardly felt like an upset by the time it was done but James Madison beat Wisconsin, 72-61, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 12 seeded Dukes had control from the start and didn’t let up against the No. 5 seeded Badgers, leading by as much as 17 points in the first half. It was James Madison’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2013 and the team’s first win since 1983.

The JMU victory is the fifth of eight South games won by the lower seed, which is the most of any region. Terrence Edwards Jr. led the Dukes with 14 points. A big part of the Badgers’ woes was their 19 turnovers, which JMU scored 27 points off of.

James Madison will play No. 4 seed Duke on Sunday.

Grand Canyon records first NCAA Tournament win

The Grand Canyon Antelopes made program history Saturday night in Spokane. The 12-seed upset No. 5 Saint Mary’s 75-66, advancing to the Round of 32 for the first time in a Division I NCAA Tournament.

The Antelopes are not your typical WAC team, as they are loaded with high-major talent, including star Tyon Grant-Foster, a former four-star recruit who went to Kansas. Grant-Foster led all scorers with 22 points to go along with eight rebounds in his team’s first-round win against the Gaels. He has scored at least 20 points in six of Grand Canyon’s last eight games. — Jayna Bardahl

Colorado advances past Florida with thrilling conclusion

INDIANAPOLIS — No. 10 seed Colorado hangs on in a track meet against No. 7 seed Florida, taking down the Gators 102-100 on KJ Simpson’s jumper from the right baseline with 1.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Florida guard Walter Clayton Jr.’s half-court heave at the buzzer smacked off the backboard.

It was one heck of an entertaining performance from both teams. Colorado has now advanced from the First Four to a second-round NCAA Tournament matchup against second-seeded Marquette. The Buffaloes did so after blowing a 13-point lead with 4:49 remaining. Colorado’s Cody Williams made one of two free throws to give the Buffaloes a 100-97 lead with 14.7 seconds remaining before Clayton buried a pull-up 3 with 9.5 seconds left to tie the score. — Jesse Temple

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

No. 10 Colorado advances past No. 7 Florida on last-second jumper

Purdue’s Zach Edey goes off

Purdue’s Zach Edey goes for 30 points and 21 rebounds as the Boilermakers defeat Grambling State 78-50. That was Edey’s third career 30-20 game and second this season. The others: Jan. 13 vs. Penn State (30 points, 20 rebounds) and Dec. 4, 2022 vs. Minnesota (31 points, 22 rebounds).

Purdue avenges last year’s loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson to advance to the Round of 32. — Mark Cooper

MEMPHIS — With nine minutes remaining in the second half, Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson took a seat on the bench and, for the first time all game, finally cracked a smile.

It didn’t last long.

“That’s four missed free throws in a row,” he groaned to his assistant coaches after an off-target attempt by redshirt freshman center Cedric Lath. His expression returned to his customary head shake, arms folded across his chest in disgust.

Despite Sampson’s (hilarious) disappointment, there will be no 16-seed dragon slayer this year. Houston waxed Longwood 86-46 on Friday night, easily advancing to the Round of 32.

The Lancers were no match for 1-seed Cougars, who turned in another dominant defensive performance, holding Longwood to 34 percent from the field and 3 for 13 on 3-pointers (23 percent), forcing 18 turnovers in the process. Longwood, the Big South tournament champions under head coach Griff Aldrich, returned to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons after finishing fifth in the conference standings at 6-10 in league play.

L.J. Cryer had 17 points, including 3-7 from 3-point range, tied for leading scorer with Damian Dunn, who chipped in 17 off the bench. All-American point guard Jamal Shead added 11 points and 9 assists. Emmanuel Sharp had 13. Most of the starters got extended rest in the second half, including forward J’Wan Roberts, who finished with 7 points and 5 rebounds. Roberts was hampered by a shin injury in the Big 12 tournament which he appeared to reaggravate in the second half, but his sitting the final 17 minutes of the game seemed more precautionary than concerning with the score well out of hand.

The win, while expected, had to be cathartic for the Cougars following a 28-point loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 championship game with the roster banged up and running on fumes. Roberts’ health will be critical to the team’s ability to make a deep run over the coming weeks, though it did receive a lift from Ramon Walker Jr., who returned from a knee injury for the first time since Feb. 19 and had one point and two boards in 14 minutes. Nine players scored for the Coogs.

The victory sets up a second-round showdown on Sunday with 9-seed Texas A&M, who put up 98 points and banged home 13 triples in a win over Nebraska earlier in the evening. Houston has advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in each of the past three seasons. — Justin Williams

SPOKANE, Wash. — Here is your summary of the first game of the day at Spokane Arena, in which everyone in the building was on their feet and on pins and needles in the last minute: One team had Jaedon LeDee. The other team was Alabama-Birmingham.

There really is no deep, considered analysis of fifth-seeded San Diego State’s 69-65 survival of an upset bid from the No. 12 seed Blazers. This is all there is: LeDee and nothing else. The senior forward had 32 points, two short of his career-high. He made every important play in the important moments, including grabbing an offensive board off a terrible look with a minute left and the Aztecs clinging to a one-point lead.

LeDee hit two free throws at that interval, then two more with 20.1 seconds left to create another three-point advantage, then snagged the defensive board when UAB’s game-tying 3-point attempt from the top of the key didn’t fall. He shot 11 of 18 from the floor and 9 of 10 from the line; the rest of his team, in total, contributed 13 buckets and seven free throws. He fouled out two of UAB’s key bigs. The four turnovers weren’t great, but between LeDee was a plus-19.9 on points produced versus points allowed, per the StatBroadcast feed. The next-highest Aztecs number? Lamont Butler’s plus-6.1.

Story of the season, really, and it nearly made them the second surprise 2023 Final Four participant to take a first-round loss on Friday. Though the Blazers roared back from a 12-point deficit to take a lead with 10 minutes to go — their first of the day — their grand total of zero field goals in the final two and a half minutes was decisive. Even though San Diego State scuffled similarly — zero buckets in the last 4:12 — they still had a go-to star to, well, go to. — Brian Hamilton

Marquette overcomes rough first half to advance

INDIANAPOLIS — The good news: Marquette won its first-round game against Western Kentucky. The bad news: the Golden Eagles are going to be exhausted. The final score, 87-69, won’t reflect this one. The Hilltoppers’ frenetic pace and feisty defense pushed Marquette and ignited a boisterous crowd.

Plenty of Marquette fans made the four-hour ride, but what the Western crowed lacked in numbers they made up for, in shall we say, eagerness. Hooting at the refs and screaming for their players, the Hilltopper faithful added fuel to an offense that didn’t need a whole lot of help.

The savior for Marquette not surprisingly, was Tyler Kolek. In his first game back suffering an oblique strain on Feb. 28, Kolek played 38 minutes. He also clearly was fine, producing a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists, adding a pair of steals and six rebounds for good measure. The Golden Eagles’ needed his maestro performance, unable to shake the Hilltoppers and their nation’s leading fastest paced offense.

But the same blistering shooting that carried Western Kentucky in the first half disappeared in the second, the Golden Eagles stretching its defense and limiting the same team that drained six treys in the first half to just 2-of-11 from the arc in the second. That’s pretty much the recipe for disaster for any team trying to pull an epic upset in the NCAA Tournament, and it wound up doing in the Hilltoppers, too. — Dana O’Neil

No. 6 Clemson upsets No. 11 New Mexico

MEMPHIS — Well, we have an upset. Technically. No. 6 Clemson defeated No. 11 New Mexico 77-56. The Tigers entered the game as 2.5-point underdogs despite having the better seed.

Clemson’s size and slower pace were an effective antidote to New Mexico’s frenetic tempo. The Tigers were efficient in the halfcourt, scoring 38 points in the paint and turning the ball over nine times. The Lobos couldn’t answer, hitting just 3-of-23 from beyond the arc and giving it away 13 times, which Clemson turned into 19 points.

The NCAA selection committee will take some pride in this one, after describing New Mexico as a bid stealer following its run to the Mountain West Conference tournament title. Many assumed the Lobos, with a NET of 22, were safely in the field, and the betting lines favored them over a Clemson side that limped into March Madness, having lost three of its last four, including an early exit from the ACC tournament.

Chase Hunter led all scorers, with 15 of his 21 points coming in the second half. Forward Ian Schieffelin had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and P.J. Hall added 14 points. Nelly Junior Joseph led New Mexico with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Guard Jaelen House, the son of former NBA player Eddie House, had 12 points on just 4 of 14 from the field, and battled foul trouble for much of the second half, sitting on the end of the bench with a towel wrapped around his head.

Rick Pitino, the head coach of St. John’s, who missed out on an at-large bid, was seated across from the New Mexico bench to cheer on his son, Richard, coach of the Lobos. The two shared a knowing wave as the younger Pitino exited the court after the loss.

Clemson’s win sets up a round of 32 matchup against third-seeded Baylor on Sunday after the Bears won big over Colgate earlier on Friday. The game will pit Baylor’s top-five offense against Clemson’s top-25 offense, according to KenPom. The Tigers advance beyond the first round of the tournament for the first time since 2018, when Brad Brownell’s team reached the Sweet 16. — Justin Williams

UConn advances without a sweat

BROOKLYN – There was no doubt that UConn was the defending champion in Friday’s opening round of the NCAA Tournament. UConn opened with an early lead against No. 16 Stetson and never relinquished, advancing to the second round with a 91-52 victory. Those opening minutes were the closest the Hatters would get to the Huskies as UConn commanded the entire game.

The only time it felt like they lost control was a brief scoreless three-minute stretch in the second half where the Hatters went on a 9-0 run.

It was an all-around effort with five Huskies in double figures, with Donovan Clingan leading the charge with 19 points and eight rebounds. Stephan Swensen led the Hatters with 19 points.

UConn will face Northwestern on Sunday in the second round. — Charlotte Carroll

Northwestern advances via overtime

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — This time of year requires both patience and a sense of urgency, as Northwestern guard Brooks Barnhizer knows better than most.

With the clock ticking down and a two-point deficit in the ninth-seeded Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament opening-round game against No. 8 Florida Atlantic, Barnhizer dribbled, dribbled and dribbled some more before passing out to Nick Martinelli who got it right back to Barnhizer with 11 seconds left. He drove to the basket for a game-tying layup that electrified both his teammates and the Barclays Center crowd. A head-scratching final possession by FAU guard Johnell Davis — who didn’t seem to recognize how little time he had before the buzzer sounded — ensured the game would head to overtime.

And overtime belonged to the ‘Cats, who were led by Ryan Langborg’s 12 points in the extra period that helped them pull away for a 77-65 win in the first game of Friday’s action. Langborg, who played in this tournament a year ago for Princeton, finished with a game-high 27 points. Star guard Boo Buie chipped in another 22 points, as the pair dazzled in overtime in particular.

Northwestern will presumably play No. 1 overall seed Connecticut on Sunday.

Meanwhile, The Dusty May Sweepstakes can officially begin, as the FAU coach will be a hot commodity in this year’s coaching carousel. His name has been linked most to the open Louisville job. — Nicole Auerbach

Baylor handles Colgate with ease

MEMPHIS — Baylor has been here plenty of times before. It’s the only program that’s been a No. 3 seed or higher in the last four NCAA Tournaments, and in the backdrop of No. 3 seed Kentucky falling to Oakland on Thursday night, the Bears quickly squashed any thoughts of an upset. Baylor completed a wire-to-wire win over No. 14 seed Colgate by a 92-67 margin early Friday afternoon. Scott Drew’s team put forth a masterclass offensively with 58/53/71 shooting splits and five players in double figures, led by 23 points from senior Jalen Bridges, on the other end of the spectrum, Big 12 Freshman of the Year Ja’Kobe Walter added 19 points.

The matchup of the game was Baylor’s 3-point shooting (39.6 percent on the season, 6th best nationally) against Colgate’s 3-point defense (29.9 percent, 10th nationally) and the Bears won that game within the game convincingly with 16 made 3-pointers compared to just five from Colgate. With center Yves Missi limited due to an upper-body injury early in the first half, Baylor relied heavily on a zone defense and length from their guards and wings to disrupt a Colgate offense that found success inside the paint. The result was a 14-2 run in the first half’s final minutes, creating an insurmountable 20-point advantage going into halftime.

Bridges’ 18 second-half points made sure that Baylor’s large lead wouldn’t be challenged too much in the second half, and as the result seemed inevitable, Drew cleared the bench which paved the way for a flurry of threes by the Baylor reserves which were met with roars by the traveling crowd. Overall, it was an expected outcome for a program of Baylor’s cache, but as we saw on the first day these results are not guaranteed. Missi’s availability will be a question mark ahead of Sunday’s second-round game but there’s hardly anything to nitpick from the Bears’ opening effort. The No. 3 seed will await the winner of Clemson versus New Mexico. — Kennington Smith III

Texas A&M records first NCAA Tournament win of Buzz Williams era

MEMPHIS — Texas A&M officially has its first NCAA Tournament win of the Buzz Williams era. The No. 9 seeded Aggies turned in one of the most impressive offensive performances of the first round in a dominant 98-83 win over No. 8 seed Nebraska. The 98-point total is the third highest-scoring output of the NCAA Tournament thus far (Colorado 102, Florida 100) and a season-high for the Aggies. This marks the first NCAA Tournament win for Texas A&M’s program since 2018 and on the other side the Cornhuskers are still searching for their first-ever Tournament win. The most surprising element of Texas A&M’s win was the team’s brilliance from the 3-point line. Entering Friday, the Aggies were shooting just 28.4 percent from long range, but shot 57 percent from 3-point range against the Cornhuskers (13-23) led by senior guard Wade Taylor’s 25 points while fellow guard Manny Obaseki added 22 points. Overall five different Texas A&M players finished in double figures as the teams shot 49 percent from the field.

The game was much closer in the first half than the final score indicated. Both teams traded baskets through the first 12 minutes of play as Texas A&M clung to a 36-33 lead. However, the tide of the game quickly turned in the Aggies’ favor due to a concerted effort to stop Nebraska’s perimeter shooters. As a result, Texas A&M closed the final eight minutes on a 22-11 run to carry a 14-point lead into halftime. From the 6:56 mark in the first half on, when the score was 36-33, Texas A&M outscored Nebraska by a 62-50 margin. Now the Aggies will await the winner of No. 1 Houston vs No. 16 Longwood, a second-round game that will be played on Sunday.

For Nebraska, Friday night’s loss is a bitter way to end a season that saw the program reach its first NCAA Tournament in a decade. The FedEx Arena crowd was over 80 percent Nebraska fans, and the fan base came out en masse to support its program. It wasn’t the result that coach Fred Hoiberg was looking for but this season was validation in terms of the direction of Nebraska basketball.

On the winner’s side, Texas A&M’s win is significant not only for the program but the SEC, a conference that’s experienced five losses in the first round including four losses to double-digit seeds. It’s been a gradual build in College Station under Williams, from two, early rough seasons to NIT runner-ups, a first-round NCAA Tournament loss last season to breaking through with a win on Friday night. There’s still more basketball to play, presumably against the No. 1 overall seed next, but Friday’s win should bring a heightened sense of confidence– particularly on the offensive end. — Kennington Smith III

Duke cruises to second round

BROOKLYN — Duke will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after fending off Vermont, 64-47.

After losing the lead early in the first half, the Catamounts made it close a few times throughout the game, but couldn’t close the gap. It was a physical, at times messy contest, which didn’t help the Catamounts. Vermont’s Sam Alamutu fouled out while Vermont finished with 12 turnovers.

Jared McCain and Mark Mitchell carried the Blue Devils with 15 points apiece while big man Kyle Filipowski added eight boards.

A terrible moment occurred when, with under two minutes remaining, Vermont’s T.J. Long suffered what seemed to be a right lower leg injury. He had to be helped off the court.

Duke will face the winner of Wisconsin-JMU on Sunday in the second round. — Charlotte Carroll

Required reading

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)



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