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NCAA tournament Day 1 wrap

One year ago, it was a yawner. Just three of the 16 games wound up in single-digits and upsets didn't exist.

 

This time around the first day of the Big Dance brought about a trio of buzzer-beaters, three overtime contests and a couple more one-point games.

 

But it wasn't quite so enjoyable for the Big East, a conference that isn't quite so powerful after all.

 

I heard it all season. The Big East this, the Big East that.

 

The league got eight teams in the Big Dance and was also vastly over-seeded - with Villanova earning a No. 2 despite losing five of its last seven, Notre Dame going from an NIT team to a No. 6 in the span of three weeks and Marquette also being given a No. 6.

 

Well, after just one day, three Big East teams are history.

 

The only one to advance, Villanova, barely got past No. 15 Robert Morris.

 

The league will have a chance at redemption on Friday when the other four teams are in action: No. 1 Syracuse opens against 16th-seeded Vermont, No. 2 West Virginia plays Morgan State, No. 3 Pittsburgh faces Oakland and No. 9 Louisville goes up against California.

 

Meanwhile, if anyone is counting, the Big 12 won three of its four games on Thursday.

 

Game of the Day: Murray State guard Danero Thomas made a 16-footer as time expired to give the 13th-seeded Racers a 66-65 victory over No. 4 Vanderbilt. It was Murray State's first NCAA tournament victory since 1988 when the Racers knocked off N.C. State.

 

The Savior: Washington senior forward Quincy Pondexter struggled early, but hit the biggest shot of his career when he sank a bank shot with 1.7 seconds left to give the No. 11 Huskies an upset against sixth-seeded Marquette.

 

More Studs:

 

1. Shelvin Mack, Butler - He's been the under-the-radar guy all year long and the sophomore guard came through with a huge effort, scoring 25 points and making 7-of-9 shots from beyond the arc to help the Bulldogs cruise past UTEP.

 

2. Jimmer Fredette, BYU - Just for his name, the Cougars guard is deserving of a spot. But the New York native went for 37 points and played 46 minutes in BYU's double-overtime win against Florida.

 

3. Omar Samhan, Saint Mary's - The Gaels affable big man was a dominating force against Richmond, scoring 29 points and grabbing a dozen boards in just 28 foul-plagued minutes. It looked as though he was playing against boys in the post as he made 11-of-16 shots from the field.

 

4. Armon Bassett, Ohio - The Indiana transfer scored 32 points and was 5-of-10 from long distance as the Bobcats pulled off the biggest upset of the day, a 97-83 spanking over No. 3 Georgetown.

 

Story of the Day: A handful of double-digit seeds all advanced out of the 16 teams that moved forward on Thursday. Saint Mary's (10), Washington (11), Old Dominion (11), Murray State (13) and Ohio (14). Also, half of the teams that moved on came from non-BCS leagues.

 

Biggest Upset: Ohio University's upset over Georgetown was the first time a No. 13 seed had won since Northwestern State knocked off Iowa in the 2006 tournament. Overall, it was just the 18th ever by a No. 4 seed. It was also Ohio's first win over a ranked team since beating Syracuse back in 1998.

 

Most Impressive: I'm not sure that even if Keith "Mister" Jennings had any eligibility left, that it would have mattered for East Tennessee State. Kentucky pounded the Bucs, 100-71, as Eric Bledsoe was 8-of-9 from deep in the rout. This one was never, ever in question.

 

Most Unimpressive: Villanova barely getting past Robert Morris. The Wildcats started the game with star Scottie Reynolds and fellow starter Corey Fisher on the bench for an unspecified reason and Jay Wright's team needed a late run to get past the NEC champs and advance to the second round. Reynolds couldn't make a shot and 'Nova was beaten on the glass.

 

Best second-round matchup: No. 2 Kansas State vs. No. 7 BYU - This one could be interesting since I'm not sure K-State has anyone that can contain Jimmer Fredette.

 

Biggest disappointment: Georgetown - The Hoyas were completely dismantled by an Ohio University team that was the ninth seed in the MAC tournament a week or so ago. Georgetown's defense was completely non-existent as the Bobcats shot 53 percent in the first half and 67 percent in the second 20 minutes. The Hoyas were the lowest seed to fall on Thursday.

 

Mercifully Over: Texas season began with 17 consecutive wins, but ended when Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith sank a long jumper with 1.7 seconds left to beat the Longhorns in overtime. It was the apropos ending to what has been a crazy season for Rick Barnes & Co.

 

We'll miss you: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame - Tough way to end his career. The Irish senior missed five games late in the season due to a knee injury, but appeared to be back after a 20-point, 10-rebound performance in the Big East tournament. However, in the final game of his college career, 'Gody scored just four points in a 51-50 first-round upset at the hands of Old Dominion.

Never would have thought: That Old Dominion would be able to pull off the first-round upset against Notre Dame with its star big man, Gerald Lee, being held to just nine points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. The 6-foot-10 senior from Finland came into the game averaging 14.6 points per game.

 

Brief Return: The last time we saw the Florida Gators in the Big Dance, Joakim Noah and the rest of the boys from Gainesville were dancing after winning back-to-back national titles. Billy Donovan, after a two-year hiatus, got back into the NCAA tourney this year but was bounced in double-overtime by BYU.

 

Stat of the Day: UTEP was much bigger, stronger and longer than Butler. Yet the Miners only outrebounded the Bulldogs by one, 27-26.

 

Can't wait till tomorrow:

 

1. No. 12 Cornell vs. No. 5 Temple, 12:30 p.m. ET - This one could go either way. Two well-coached teams.

 

2. No. 13 Siena vs. No. 4 Purdue, 2:30 p.m. ET - Can the Saints win for the third straight year in the Big Dance against a Purdue team that isn't the same without Robbie Hummel.

 

3. No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 8 Gonzaga, 7:10 p.m. ET - The size and length of the 'Noles vs. the guard play of the 'Zags.

 

4. No. 9 Louisville vs. No. 8 California, 9:45 p.m. ET - The winner will likely get a shot at Duke.