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Day 2: NCAA tournament roundup

3/20/2010
Kim Klement/US Presswire

So the encore had as much drama as a Will Ferrell flick.

After an opening day filled with upsets, buzzer-beaters and jaw-dropping results, Friday's second day of the 2010 NCAA tournament was largely tame.

Conference records: Rd. 1

Here's the records for each conference through the first round of the NCAA tourney. Credit: ESPN's Joe Lunardi.

Outside of an upset many college basketball fans predicted -- Ivy League champion Cornell thumped Atlantic-10 champion Temple 78-65 in an East Regional first-round game in Jacksonville, Fla. -- the day was largely uneventful.

There were a couple of other mild upsets in seed only: 10-seed Missouri beat 7th-seeded Clemson 86-78 in the East Regional in Buffalo, N.Y., and 10-seed Georgia Tech defeated 7th-seeded Oklahoma State 64-59 in the Midwest Regional in Milwaukee, Wis.

But even those games lacked the last-second thrills of the tournament’s opening act, in which five double-digits seeds won and eight of the 16 games were decided by three points or less (or in OT). Thursday? Just one game was decided by three points or less.

Each of the No. 1 seeds that played on Friday rolled. Duke beat No. 16-seeded Arkansas-Pine Bluff 73-44 in the South Regional, and Syracuse manhandled Vermont 79-56 in the West.

Friday wasn’t completely void of reasons to cheer. Cornell finished 27-4 during the regular season, but some still questioned its legitimacy as a serious threat in March. The Big Red’s best performance this season actually came in a loss: 71-66 at Kansas on Jan. 6.

But against Temple’s vaunted defense, Cornell shot 56.3 percent and made nine 3-pointers. Senior guard Louis Dale scored 21 points and senior forward Ryan Wittman scored 20 for the Big Red, which won its first NCAA tournament game ever and ended the Ivy League’s 12-game drought in the NCAAs.

“I think it’s great for our league; just the national attention,” Dale told reporters Friday. “Our league is a good league. It was hard for us to win. Princeton is a good team, Harvard is good, and I think it’s just great for our league.”

Speaking of leagues in all-out show-us-respect mode, the Pac-10 picked up another victory over the Big East on Friday, as Cal stomped Louisville from start to finish in a 77-62 victory in Jacksonville. On Thursday, Washington was a comeback winner over Marquette. Combine those two with the first-round victories of Gonzaga and Saint Mary's and the two most prominent conferences on the West Coast (the Pac-10 and WCC) are 4-0 in this tournament. So is this still the worst season of Left Coast basketball in years, as so many have proclaimed? Maybe not.

Many college basketball fans also wondered how good 4th-seeded Purdue would be after the Boilermakers lost star forward Robbie Hummel to a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 24. Most figured the Boilermakers would go one-and-done in the NCAA after they lost to Minnesota by 27 points in the semifinals of last week’s Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. But junior center JaJuan Johnson scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and three other Boilers scored in double figures in a 72-64 victory, ending Siena’s hopes for a third first-round upset in as many years.

If watching the Boilermakers win wasn’t bad enough for Indiana University fans, imagine having to watch former Hoosiers Armon Bassett and Jordan Crawford the last two days. Bassett and Crawford were part of the mass exodus of players after former Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson was fired in 2008.

On Thursday night, Bassett scored 32 points in No. 14-seeded Ohio’s 97-83 upset of Georgetown in the Midwest Regional. A day later, Crawford scored 28 points with six rebounds and five assists in No. 6-seeded Xavier’s 65-54 victory over Minnesota in a West Regional game in Milwaukee. That's a mere 60 points combined.

The Hoosiers? They've gone 16-46 the last two seasons as new coach Tom Crean continues to clean up the mess Sampson left behind.

Perhaps Crean could use a player like Maryland's Jordan Williams. In his very first NCAA tournament game, all the freshman did was score a career-high 21 points and haul in a career-high 17 rebounds as the 4th-seeded Terrapins pulled away from Houston in an 89-77 victory.

For a while, at least, it seemed like we would have the same edge-of-your-seat drama -- and the same embarrassing results for the Big East -- from the day before. No. 2-seeded West Virginia missed its first 11 shots against Morgan State in an East Regional game in Buffalo. But the Mountaineers finally found their stroke and pulled away in a 77-50 rout.

No. 3-seeded Pittsburgh scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes against Oakland in a West Regional game in Milwaukee, before running away with an 89-66 victory.

Wisconsin, the No. 4 seed in the East Regional, didn’t put away Wofford until junior forward Jon Leuer buried a baseline jumper with 18 seconds left in a 53-49 win in Jacksonville. Wofford College was founded in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1854, but the Terriers were making their first NCAA tournament appearance. They certainly didn’t seem to be overwhelmed, as they had a one-point lead with 4:43 to play.

“We know Wofford is very good,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. “We know their heart is big. We know how hard they play.”

The Badgers play Cornell, another team with a big heart, in Sunday’s second round.

The good news? The underdogs which won our hearts on Thursday will be back in action in Saturday’s second-round games. No. 14-seeded Ohio plays No. 6 Tennessee in the Midwest Regional. No. 11-seeded Old Dominion plays No. 3 Baylor and 10th-seeded Saint Mary’s plays No. 2 Villanova in the South Regional. No. 13-seeded Murray State faces No. 5 Butler in the West Regional, and No. 11-seeded Washington will try to knock off No. 3 New Mexico in the East.

Here’s hoping Saturday is more like Thursday than Friday.