V-RECAPS | NCAA Tournament, First Round | Thursday, March 18
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More from Vitale: Friday's First-Round V-Recaps
ST. LOUIS REGION
(10) Nevada 72, (7) Michigan State 66 -- Coach Tom Izzo's Spartans had their ups and downs this season, but that season came to an end in surprise fashion as Nevada rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit. Nevada guard Kirk Snyder played like a man on a mission. He was not invited to a U.S. tryout when Michigan State's Chris Hill was, so Snyder had something to prove. The Spartans weren't the same after forward Paul Davis got into foul trouble. Davis ended up fouling out with 16 points. Nevada coach Trent Johnson, the former Stanford assistant, is another one of the rising stars in the coaching fraternity, like Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez. In the second round, Nevada gets a shot at Gonzaga.
(2) Gonzaga 76, (15) Valparaiso 49 -- For about 10 minutes, Gonzaga was challenged by Valpo. The bottom line: Gonzaga was too strong, too deep and too talented. One key sequence was when Errol Knight got a pair of breakaway dunks to help the Zags build their lead. Next Gonzaga takes on Nevada in what should be an intriguing second-round matchup. Can the Zags stop guard Kirk Snyder? Or do the Zags have too many weapons for Nevada?
EAST RUTHERFORD REGION
(12) Manhattan 75, (5) Florida 60 -- Manhattan coach Bobby Gonzalez's star keeps getting brighter and brighter. His Jaspers put Florida through a buzz saw. Five city kids put on an unbelievable show. Forwards Dave Holmes and Peter Mulligan gave a brilliant performance on the interior as they combined for 29 points. Not to be left out was the brilliant play of guard Luis Flores. The former Rutgers transfer put up 26 points to help end the Gators season.
So Florida's season is over, and it's obvious that coach Billy Donovan needs to get his big three of sophomore guards Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh and junior forward David Lee some more help. On the other side of the coin, it's time for the administration at St. John's to start listening and make a call to coach Gonzalez. He brings passion, talent and a love for New York to the table that could help the university.
(4) Wake Forest 79, (13) Virginia Commonwealth 78 -- Diaper dandy guard Chris Paul was clutch down the stretch for Wake Forest with four big free throws. Despite being down as many as nine points in the second half, the Demon Deacons didn't lose their composure and rallied to win a tight game. VCU has no reason to hang its collective head -- this team showed tremendous tenacity. VCU also received a great coaching performance from former Duke guard Jeff Capel.
(1) Saint Joseph's 82, (16) Liberty 63 -- Senior guard Jameer Nelson put on quite a show in the first half by almost outscoring Liberty by himself. Liberty never had a chance because there was way too much of Nelson and his backcourt mate, Delonte West. The Hawks weren't tested in the first round, but they will be in the second round in what should be a battle against Texas Tech. I'm looking forward to seeing Red Raiders senior guard guard Andre Emmett go against the Hawks.
(8) Texas Tech 76, (9) Charlotte 73 -- The General, Robert Montgomery Knight, had a good moment in the city of Buffalo. The city hasn't been the best to him -- he's been saddled with losses there while he was the coach at West Point and in his last game as coach at Indiana. But strong team defense (which held Charlotte to 6-of-24 shooting from the 3-point line) and senior Andre Emmett (game-high 20 points) enabled the Red Raiders to walk away with a 76-73 victory.
Knight has done a remarkable job resurrecting the Texas Tech program and taking it to new heights. The Red Raiders will face Saint Joseph's in the second round ... and it should be a great game. Knight loves the magical moments that come with playing the best, and fans everywhere can expect a challenging game plan for coach Phil Martelli's Hawks.
(8) Seton Hall 80, (9) Arizona 76 -- It's only fitting that an underachiever like Arizona was sent packing in the first round. The Pirates deserve tons of credit. Coach Louis Orr has done a super job, and senior guard Andre Barrett should be playing at the next level next season. He's a terrific veteran leader who knows how to distribute the rock. Big man Kelly Whitney really impressed me inside with his double-double (24 points, 14 boards) before leaving the game with what appeared to be leg cramps. For those who thought Duke-Arizona would be a great second-round matchup, guess what? The Pirates are there, not the Wildcats.
(6) North Carolina 63, (11) Air Force 52 -- North Carolina coach Roy Williams said before this game that if his Tar Heels weren't ready for Air Force's Princeton-style offense, it would be a long day. Williams proved to be right for nearly three-quarters of this game as the Cadets moved the ball well and scored often on back-door cuts. Give credit to Air Force coach Joe Scott, the former Princeton assistant, for a great game plan. But the talented Tar Heels were too much in the end, pulling away for the W (led by the balanced scoring of four guys in double figures). So the Williams era in Chapel Hill now includes a win in his first NCAA tourney game as head coach.
(3) Texas 66, (14) Princeton 49 -- It took awhile for Texas to get going, as Princeton built an eight-point lead in the first half. But in the second half, senior guard Brandon Mouton really turned it on, hitting some key 3-pointers (5-of-6 from beyond the arc). Princeton gave it a valiant effort. But Texas had too much depth -- as well as too much Mouton (23 points), forward Brian Boddicker (14 points, 7 rebounds) and guard Royal Ivey (15 points plus 8 rebounds and 5 assists, both game highs).
(1) Duke 96, (16) Alabama State 61 -- This was a typical easy first-round win for Duke over a game Alabama State team. Guard Daniel Ewing started out hot (19 points), and the Dukies got good inside play from Shelden Williams (16 points, 9 rebounds) and Shavlik Randolph (20 points, 8 rebounds). Senior guard Chris Duhon played 16 minutes despite a rib injury but wasn't a major factor. Next, Duke takes on Seton Hall, a matchup of young coach Louis Orr and Duke's Hall of Famer, Mike Krzyzewski.
(7) DePaul 76, (10) Dayton 69 (2 OT) -- Since this game went two overtimes, it was arguably the most competitive contest of the day. These teams were evenly matched, as 7-10 games often are. The key down the stretch was that junior guard Drake Diener hit clutch free throw after clutch free throw (10-of-10 from the line, 28 points overall). Diener's terrific game offset Keith Waleskowski's double-double. It was surprising to see Dayton foul Diener repeatedly in the second overtime. Now DePaul coach Dave Leitao, the former UConn assistant, gets to face his mentor, Jim Calhoun, in the second round.
(8) Alabama 65, (9) Southern Illinois 64 -- This was a gutsy performance by Southern Illinois. The Salukis came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to make this a great game. But despite the Salukis' excellent play, Alabama's veteran backcourt came through big-time. Underrated guard Earnest Shelton scored 18 big points. Antoine Pettway was 1-of-7 before coming through in the clutch and hitting the game-winning shot with five seconds left. What a tough loss for Southern Illinois. Junior guard Darren Brooks had a great game (25 points). The Salukis' diaper dandy coach, Matt Painter, has a great future ahead of him.
(4) Maryland 86, (13) UTEP 83 -- What a great game! You've gotta salute the kids from El Paso for their remarkable effort. They battled hard against the ACC tournament champions but fell just short at the end. Maryland guard John Gilchrist made some big plays in crunch time. He gives the Terps leadership and constantly proves that he wants the ball when the game is on the line. The Terps were 8-of-18 from the 3-point line, but they won the game down the stretch with big free throws. The big question for UTEP is this: Will coach Billy Gillespie move on? His star is shining brighter, baby!
(5) Syracuse 80, (12) BYU 75 -- Sophomore guard Gerry McNamara (43 points) was clearly the player of the day. He put on an offensive clinic in the first round when forward Hakim Warrick was in trouble with three early fouls. Warrick came through in the second half with 16 points, but it was McNamara who was clutch with key shots and big free throws to win. Give the BYU credit for inside toughness, but it wasn't enough to defeat the defending national champions. Now Syracuse will meet Maryland for only the third NCAA tourney meeting between the past two national champions. The first two were in 1962 (Ohio State-Cincinnati) and 1995 (North Carolina-Arkansas).
(2) Connecticut 70, (15) Vermont 53 -- While center Emeka Okafor had his usual double-double and guard Ben Gordon scored 14 points, two other players stood out for UConn. Forward Rashad Anderson came out on fire, hitting trifecta after trifecta (6-of-9 overall). And point guard Taliek Brown has gotten his touch back on offense (6-of-8 from the floor plus a game-high 7 assists). The Huskies were down 7-0 early but never were fazed. They went on to build a comfortable lead at halftime and maintained it in the second half. UConn is loaded, and I feel they have what it takes to make a run to the Final Four.
(1) Stanford 71, (16) Texas-San Antonio 45 -- It's no surprise that Stanford advanced with a 26-point win over Texas-San Antonio.While the game was closer than the final score indicated, Stanford's defense did a super job as UTSA shot just 23.8 percent from the floor. Stanford forward Josh Childress was clearly the dominant player on the floor with 26 points and 9 rebounds in 30 minutes. Look for more production from the Cardinal backcourt of Chris Hernandez and Matt Lottich, who combined for just 14 points. Stanford should have an interesting second-round game vs. an athletic Alabama team.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.