The first full day of action in the NCAA tournament didn't produce the number of surprises that many fans both expected and wanted, with just two lower-seeded teams advancing to Saturday's action. While one should come as no surprise to the country the other finds itself carrying the banner for an entire conference...in its first season in the league. Here are the key happenings by location, highlighted by wins for Colorado (Albuquerque) and VCU (Portland).
(1) Syracuse vs. (16) NC-Asheville: East Region
The first three bids to the NCAA tournament were handed out on Saturday, with the game drawing the greatest amount of attention being the OVC title game between Murray State and Tennessee State. The reason: this is the time of the year when bubble teams actively watch the scoreboard in hopes that no unexpected competitors would show up on the landscape. At 29-1 entering the title game it was clear that Steve Prohm's team would be an "unexpected competitor" for an at-large bid and the Racers were going to receive one had they lost to the Tigers.
Three tickets to the NCAA tournament will be punched on Saturday, beginning with the Big South title game matching seven-seed VMI and regular season champion UNC Asheville. Eddie Biedenbach's Bulldogs have avoided the turmoil on the opposite side of the bracket, which saw both Coastal Carolina and Campbell fall in the quarterfinals. Duggar Baucom's Keydets were the ones who knocked off CCU, as they shot an impressive 14-for-28 from three in their 85-68 win over the Chanticleers.
With 1:22 remaining VCU and George Mason were tied at 51 in a hotly-contested, defensive-minded affair. There were no easy shots to be found in the matchup of two of the three teams that entered Tuesday's action tied for first in the CAA. That's where the real fun began, with the Rams and Patriots combining to score 21 points in that final 1:22 to cap an outstanding matchup. The difference wasn't so much what one team did wrong but rather what one did right. Sherrod Wright.