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Utah State squandered its upset shot

Updated: March 18, 2011, 5:39 PM ET
By Peter Keating

Our Giant Killers statistical model projected three teams as best bets to pull off big upsets in the NCAA tournament, and on Thursday, all three went into action. The result: one win and two losses, plus one surprise. In most of the cases, the lessons worth drawing are pretty straightforward -- but we're still fuming about one Giant Killer killing that should never have been. Here's what we've learned from the Giant versus Killer matchups so far:

Richmond 69, Vanderbilt 66: Ahh, we'll always have the Spiders -- and the Commodores, who just can't seem to put Giant Killers away. This time around, the upset happened because both teams played to their statistical profiles, which is what led our model to project a Richmond win in the first place. The Spiders protect the ball extremely well, and the Commodores are one of the poorest teams in the nation at forcing turnovers. Result: Just two turnovers for Richmond. It's hard to overstate how important that is; extra possessions make it possible to score extra points. And so do 3s. Vanderbilt shot better than Richmond from close range and nearly as well from downtown, but the Spiders took and made many more long-range shots (12-for-24 vs. 6-for-13). Simple, really, and the perfect recipe for a Killing.

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