Your bracket may be busted with No. 2 Michigan State's stunning loss to No. 15 Middle Tennessee on Friday -- I had MSU in the Final Four but at least no further -- but basically every sportsbook on earth was doing jumping jacks over that upset because MSU took so much action to win the national title. I would argue that's the biggest upset in tournament history. There were a total of 13 upsets in the first round, matching the record for first-round upsets based on seed since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
No. 14 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 6 Notre Dame (-2, 140.5)
East Region game at 2:40 p.m. ET from Brooklyn on CBS. Can't say I was hugely surprised that Stephen F. Austin (28-5), the only team not to lose a conference game this season, beat No. 3 West Virginia 70-56 on Friday. That it was by 14 points was certainly surprising. Thomas Walkup, the two-time Southland Conference Player of the Year (he looks like a goof/hockey player if you watched that but clearly has game), had 33 points in the win. SFA has the longest winning streak in the country at 21 in a row. The Lumberjacks might have a famous fan in attendance for this one. The school has invited "Stone Cold" Steve Austin to the game because Walkup rather looks like him and that was blowing up the Internet on Friday.
Notre Dame (22-11) beat No. 11 Michigan, a winner in the First Four, 70-63 on Friday. V.J. Beacham scored 18 points, including the 3-pointer that gave Notre Dame the lead for good. He was 7-for-7 from the field. The Irish were down 12 at halftime. They shot 58 percent from the field, 53 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line. Zak Irvin had a chance to tie it at 66 in the final seconds, but his 3-pointer missed. Bonzie Colson took the rebound and hit two free throws with 11.1 seconds left. Michigan seemed tired. After hitting 51.6 percent of their shots in the first half, the Wolverines shot 28.1 percent in the second half. The ACC was 6-1 in the first round. Pitt was the only loser.
Key trends: SFA is 4-1 against the spread in its past five neutral-site games. The Irish are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 after an ATS win. The "over/under" has gone under in four of SFA's past five non-conference games. The under is 7-2 in Notre Dame's past nine.
I'm leaning: Notre Dame and under.
No. 10 VCU vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (-6.5, 147)
West Region game at 5:15 p.m. ET from Oklahoma City on CBS. VCU (25-10) took out No. 7 Oregon State -- the Pac-12 had a dreadful first round -- 75-67 on Friday. JeQuan Lewis had 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the victory. Melvin Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 8:27 left to stop a 10-0 Oregon State run and give the Rams a 52-51 lead. They wouldn't trail again. VCU outrebounded Oregon State 40-28 and outscored the Beavers in the paint 46-37. It had to be sweet for Rams fans to advance and then see Texas, led by former coach Shaka Smart, lose on a half-court buzzer-beater. His replacement, Will Wade, is the youngest coach in the NCAA Tournament at 33.
VCU had to deal with arguably the Pac-12's best player in Gary Payton II in Round 1 and now it's maybe the nation's best player and Big 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield on Sunday. Oklahoma (26-7) beat Cal State Bakersfield 82-68 behind 27 points from Hield, 16 of those in the final 13:23. Still, OU didn't play great. It missed 10 of 25 free throws and was outrebounded by a smaller team. Obviously Oklahoma has a huge advantage here as it will be playing only about 25 miles from campus. The last time Oklahoma was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Blake Griffin and Co. advanced to the Elite Eight in 2009. I think this team will too. OU is 2-2 vs. VCU, with the Rams winning 82-69 in their last matchup in 2009.
Key trends: VCU is 14-3 ATS in its past 17 NCAA Tournament games. OU is 1-6 ATS in its past seven NCAA Tournament games. The under is 10-1 in Oklahoma's past 11 games overall.
I'm leaning: Oklahoma and under.
No. 15 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 10 Syracuse (-6, 147)
Midwest Region game at 6:10 p.m. ET from St. Louis on TNT. The big winner of Michigan State's loss? That would be Midwest top-seeded Virginia, which had lost to Sparty in the past two NCAA Tournaments and would have been at a huge fan disadvantage in the potential Elite Eight matchup in Chicago, a city full of Spartans alums and about a four-hour drive from campus. Middle Tennessee (25-9) wasn't even the best team in Conference USA but won the tournament title probably only because it avoided regular-season champion UAB, which was upset on the other side of the bracket. But the Blue Raiders 100 percent deserved that win Friday as they never trailed. It was the eighth No. 15 over No. 2 upset in Big Dance history. MT has the nation's top 3-pointer shooter (by percentage) in Giddy Potts and it hit 57.9 percent from long range (Potts was 3-for-5). You will beat pretty much anyone shooting that well. But it's also not sustainable.
Syracuse (20-13) didn't belong in the NCAA Tournament, but I'm sure Coach Jim Boeheim simply used that as motivation for his players ahead of their 70-51 win over No. 7 Dayton in the first round. Malachi Richardson scored 21 points, and Tyler Roberson added 10 points and 18 rebounds. Richardson is the first Orange freshman to score more than 20 points in a Big Dance game since Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 national title game. Michael Gbinije, the team's best player, struggled by hitting just 3-for-11 from the field. These quick turnarounds really favor SU with its unique 2-3 zone defense.
Key trends: MT is 6-0 ATS in its past six nonconference games. SU is 4-1 ATS in its past five games. The under is 5-2 in MT's past seven. It is 5-1 in SU's past six NCAA Tournament games.
I'm leaning: Syracuse (guess I'm in a chalk mood) and under (guess I'm in an under mood too).
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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