Upsets Aplenty In Early NCAA Men's Basketball Play As the men's basketball tournament began, major underdogs Murray State, Ohio University, Washington and Old Dominion were too much for more highly regarded opponents. St. Mary's, Northern Iowa and Wake Forest also turned the tables on the oddsmakers.
NPR logo NCAA Play Begins With Upsets Aplenty

NCAA Play Begins With Upsets Aplenty

Murray State forward Danero Thomas hits the game-winning shot as the clock winds down against Vanderbilt in San Jose, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP hide caption

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Murray State forward Danero Thomas hits the game-winning shot as the clock winds down against Vanderbilt in San Jose, Calif.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

If you had St. Mary's, Ohio University, Old Dominion and Murray State in your office pool, you're doing just fine.

First-round upsets once again put the madness into March as play began Thursday in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Firing early and often from behind the 3-point line, No. 14 seed Ohio University jumped out to as large as a 19-point lead on Big East power Georgetown and never faltered, overrunning the stunned Hoyas 97-83.

Shortly afterward, No. 11 seed Washington overcame No. 6 Marquette, 80-78, on a last-second drive to the hoop by Quincy Pondexter.

The biggest shocker in afternoon play came from No. 13 seed Murray State, which used a buzzer-beating basket from Danero Thomas to knock off No. 4 seed Vanderbilt, 66-65.

In other outcomes that tilted the field, No. 11 Old Dominion dropped No. 6 Notre Dame, 50-51 and No. 10 St Mary's dumped No. 7 Richmond, 80-71.

And both No. 9 seeds in action Thursday — Northern Iowa and Wake Forest — converted last-second baskets into victories (over UNLV and Texas, respectively).

Close play was the order of the day. Even No. 1 seed Kansas had to fend off a challenge from feisty Lehigh before pulling away to win 90-74.

No. 1 seed Kentucky was among the exceptions, drilling No. 16 seed East Tennessee State 100-71. And No. 2 seed Kansas State overcame a slow start to run away from No. 15 North Texas, 82-62.

The night could easily have produced two more big upsets. No. 6 seed Tennessee barely held off No. 11 San Diego State, 62-59, and No. 3 New Mexico survived a scare from No. 14 Montana, 62-57.

Also in afternoon play, second-seeded Villanova survived a scare from No. 15 Robert Morris, finally prevailing 73-70 in overtime.

And No. 7 BYU needed two overtimes to put away No. 10 Florida, 99-92. BYU's Jimmer Fredette had 37 points to help the Cougars break a streak of seven straight first-round tournament losses.

No. 3 seed Baylor struggled well into the second half before subduing No. 14 Sam Houston State, 68-59.

One more potential afternoon upset fizzled. No. 12 Texas El-Paso led No. 5 Butler at halftime, 33-27, but Butler roared out of the locker room and went on to a 77-59 win.

Some winners advanced in the tournament for the first time in a long time. Murray State had not won since 1988. Ohio University hadn't won in 27 years. St. Mary's last posted an NCAA victory in 1959. And Baylor — enjoying one of its best seasons in many years — won its first game in the tournament since 1950.

On Friday, 32 more teams take the floor to complete the first round of play.