NCAA Men’s Tournament Live Blog: Tight Games, Upsets Kick Off March Madness

NCAA Men's Tournament Live Blog: Tight Games, Upsets Kick Off March Madness5:00 p.m.: And that's all she wrote for both the Baylor-Sam Houston State game — and this live blog.

Despite the Bearkats grabbing the lead at various intervals and keeping the game close, Baylor's outsized players cruised to victory at the end, 68-59.

The other games going on currently are St. Mary's against Richmond, where St. Mary's is edging Richmond 43-42 with 15 minutes to go in the game.

Kansas State is blowing out North Texas 56-38 with 13 minutes left.

This live blog may be over, but the fun's just getting started at NESN.com. Eric Dorval's live blog for the night slate of March Madness games is en route, so click on over.

4:53 p.m.: We're coming up on just a minute left in the Sam Houston State-Baylor game, and Baylor has edged out to a 61-55 lead after most of the game was a close battle.

4:46 p.m.: The first four games of the tournament have been decided by 12 points total.

Sam Houston State and Baylor are continuing the trend of thin margins, as the latter has a 55-53 hold on the game.

St. Mary's and Richmond are in halftime, tied at 36. Coming out of the half shortly will be Kansas State and North Texas.

K-State has a chance to be responsible for a 12-point margin of victory all by its lonesome, holding a commanding 47-29 lead.

4:44 p.m.: The inbound pass finds its way into Danero Thomas' hands, and he drops a mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounds to win the game!

No. 13 seed Murray State has pulled off a shocker, downing No. 4 Vanderbilt 66-65.

4:41 p.m.: Jermaine Beal tries to go for a dunk, but gets rejected. He heads to the stripe for Vanderbilt and sinks the first — and only — shot to tie the game at 64.

Beal sinks the second for the one-point lead.

With 12.7 seconds left, Murray State will get the ball back in the hopes it can steal an upset.

Murray State pushes down the court and B.J. Jenkins bricks a 3-pointer. A scrum for the ball ensues, and the Racers will maintain possession with five seconds left.

4:39 p.m.: An awful pass by Murray State gives Vanderbilt the ball. A timeout is called.

UTEP-Butler has been pushed back to 5:10. Butler has the youngest coach in the field and is also working on a 20-game winning streak.

4:37 p.m.: With 30 seconds remaning, Murray State is hanging on by a thread, 64-63 over Vanderbilt.

4:34 p.m.: St. Mary's and Richmond will head to the half knotted up at 36-all.

Sam Houston State and Baylor are locked into what's shaping up to be an intriguing battle. With 11:26 left, the two are tied at 46.

4:32 p.m.: For Murray State, Isaac Miles has 17 points. B.J. Jenkins has chimed in with 13, while Vanderbilt's John Jenkins leads the Commodores with 13, backed up by Jermaine Beal's 10.

Vanderbilt has a 30-second timeout, down 62-60 with 1:45 remaining.

4:26 p.m.: Sam Houston State is hanging in there against Baylor, and the game is knotted up at 44.

St. Mary's is trailing Richmond by two, 26-24, as the clock drifts to five minutes left in the first half.

Kansas State is blowing out North Texas and they're in the half, with Vanderbilt edging out Murray State 60-59 with less than three minutes remaining.

4:20 p.m.: Checking back in with the Mean Green's attempt to dethrone Kansas State … and it's not going well.

Kansas State has a comfortable 38-23 lead as the game approaches the final minute of the first half.

North Texas has seven turnovers against four assists, continuing a season long trend. The team finished the year with 83 more turnovers than assists. Too sloppy to expect to stun the Wildcats.

4:17 p.m.: Murray State continues to hang in there against Vanderbilt, currently holding a 52-50 lead.

The Racers are doing so without much help from their star center, Tony Easley.

Easley is four blocks away from becoming the school's all-time leader in blocks (he has 93 currently).

He also has over 900 career points and with his three rebounds so far in the game, has officially become a member of the 600-rebound club.

Unfortunately for Easley, he has just two points and four fouls, which has taken him out of the team's plans.

4:11 p.m.: As mentioned earlier, Baylor has not won a tournament game in 60 years.

Sam Houston State has their own March Madness demons to exorcise, as they have never won in the tournament.

One key to the game will be Baylor's Ekpe Udoh's blocks. He averages a silly 3.9 blocks per game and has two with 17 minutes remaining in the second half.

On the Bearkat side, Gilberto Clavell has 17 points, already eclipsing his season average of 16.9.

It's 37-34 Baylor currently.

4:07 p.m.: St. Mary's currently holds an edge over Richmond, 12-11.

The Gaels, despite being the lower seed, have grown to be considered the favorite in this game. St. Mary's is 11-2 in their last 13, while Richmond is 4-2 in their last six.

Kansas State just opened up a double-digit lead and leads 24-14 with 7:36 remaining in the first half.

Murray State continues to lead Vanderbilt, checking in at 51-46 as the Sam Houston-Baylor game exits halftime.

4:00 p.m.: Murray State is hanging in there against Vanderbilt pretty well, edging their lead to 48-44.

Not too shabby for a team that hasn't played since March 6, when it won its conference title.

It became the first team in the Ohio Valley Conference to win 30 games or more, ripping off 23 straight at one point.

3:53 p.m.: No. 10 St. Mary's has just tipped off with No. 7 Richmond.

St. Mary's has exactly one tournament win, that coming in 1959, so there are a lot of teams with futile tourney history playing today.

If the Gaels lose today, they'll also add a six-game losing streak to their ledger.

Richmond, on the other hand, is the favorite in a first-round game for the first time. The Spiders have carved out a history of upsets in previous games when they were No. 12, 13, 14 and 15 seeds.

3:50 p.m.: Kansas State has regained the lead against North Texas, 10-8. The 27-6 Wildcats, fresh off a school record for wins in the regular season, plus their highest seeding ever (No. 2), are a trendy pick to reach the Final Four.

Even Obama bought into the hype. Only time will tell if the hype is justified.

3:45 p.m.: To take down the Racers, Vanderbilt will have to spread their defense — the Racers don't have one person that carries the team.

Murray State is one of seven teams in the field to have five or more players averaging at least 10 points per game.

The Racers are also dealing with tragedy, as the mother of reserve guard Picasso Simmons was killed on Monday in a car crash.

3:43 p.m.: Halftime is reached in the Sam Houston State-Baylor game, with the former holding a 31-30 lead.

The North Texas Mean Green went on a 5-2 spurt to grab an 8-7 lead with 15:11 remaining.

Murray State and Vanderbilt have just come out of halftime.

3:37 p.m.: A storyline to watch in this Sam Houston State-Baylor matchup is that, despite the No. 3 seed, Baylor has not won a tournament game in 60 years.

Baylor fell to BYU in 1950, then had first-round exits in both 1988 and 2008.

It has a good chance to turn things around this year, but it will have to do better than a 26-23 lead with two remaining in the first half against Sam Houston State.

Win or lose, Baylor still had an encouraging return to the national consciousness after two scandals rocked the school starting in summer 2003. Patrick Dennehy, a member of the Bears, was murdered by a teammate. The (now ex-) coach was then implicated in helping to pay for Dennehy's tuition, and compounded things by asking players to lie about how Dennehy paid his tuition.

3:34 p.m.: The Kansas State Wildcats, seeded No. 2 in the region, have begun their takedown of the North Texas Mean Green (No. 15). The score is 5-2 in favor of Kansas State.

3:30 p.m.: Sam Houston State and Baylor are locked in a battle with the score 23-23 with 4:36 remaining.

Baylor has tremendous size on the court, as the center and two forwards all check in at 6-foot-10 or higher.

3:28 p.m.: The Racers head to halftime with a 36-32 lead.

B.J. Jenkins leads Murray State with nine points and looks to be just fine after slicing his non-shooting hand while cutting down the net after the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

Jenkins needed staples to close the cut.

Murray State is President Obama's pick for a first-round upset over No. 4 Vanderbilt even though the Racers are 1-13 in March Madness, their lone victory coming in 1988.

Two years ago, the Commodores also had a No. 4 seed and were upset by No. 13 Siena.

3:18 p.m.: The attention turns to the Murray State Racers against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Murray State has a bit of a Robert Morris streak in them, as they hold a 33-31 lead with 2:34 remaining in the first.

No. 14 Sam Houston State is hanging tough with No. 4 Baylor, down 14-12. This game involves Sam Houston's Bearkats against the Baylor Bears, so this game will decide who roars loudest.

3:16 p.m.: Villanova is swarming all over Robert Morris, and the Colonials can't make magic happen at the buzzer.

Villanova caps off a comeback after being trailing most of the game to advance on a 73-70 victory.

3:13 p.m.: The Colonials foul Yarou, who sinks two to bring the edge to 70-67 with 25 seconds remaining.

Robert Morris attempts to push the ball quickly up the court with a layup, but things go wrong as Villanova gets a huge block.

The ball is skied down the court for an easy layup, except Reggie Redding declines to shoot, opting to take time off the clock instead. He sinks one of two free throws.

Karon Abraham just knocked down a huge three-pointer to pull within one.

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds is fouled. He heads to the stripe having knocked 13-of-14 free throw attempts down.

3:09 p.m.: It's a 68-65 Villanova edge, but the Wildcats' Corey Stokes turn the ball over and Mezie Nwigwe is able to convert a two-pointer. Off to a timeout.

3:06 p.m.: Mike Rice, coach of Robert Morris, is furious. Dallas Green is right with him this time, as they wanted a jump ball to be called — but a foul is assessed instead, with 'Nova heading to the line.

3:03 p.m.: To update some starting times, North Texas and Kansas State start at 3:30.

St. Mary's and Richmond follow right after at 3:35, then UTEP-Butler wraps up afternoon action with a 4:45 start.

Dallas Green made one of two free throws just now to pull within three. Villanova is trying to chew up some clock with 1:30 remaining.

Scottie Reynolds takes a three-pointer and sinks it, to push the score to 67-61. The Colonials get a quick two-point conversion and call timeout.

3:00 p.m.: In the other overtime game, BYU has achieved victory with a 99-92 score. Jimmer Fredette finishes with 37 points.

In games just starting, No. 13 Murray State is within a point of No. 4 Vanderbilt's 17 points.

No. 14 Sam Houston State kicks things off with a 8-3 lead over No. 3 Baylor.

2:56 p.m.: Well, Robert Morris couldn't hold the lead all this time, could it?

Villanova's gotten overtime off to a good start, with Fisher and Yarou both nabbing two-pointers to make the score 62-58. Yarou is heading to the charity stripe right now.

Rob Robinson just fouled out for Robert Morris.

2:54 p.m.: Forty-two seconds left in the Florida-BYU 2OT game. BYU holds the edge, 95-88.

2:50 p.m.: Villanova and Robert Morris are tied at 58 with 25.4 seconds left.

Villanova has the ball coming out of the timeout, and Reynolds is the one to get control.

He's letting time run all the way down to nine seconds before beginning his offensive.

He drives to the basket and attempts a layup, but that gets smacked out of bounds with 0.9 seconds.

Dallas Green came to the rescue, as 'Nova looked to have a pretty layup waiting for them at the last second. The block sends this game into overtime.

In Florida-BYU action, BYU leads 93-86 with 1:20 remaining.

Vanderbilt is beating Murray State 15-13 and the game has just gotten underway.

2:46 p.m.: Well, you don't see that every day. While Robert Morris holds a two-point lead, Villanova's star player, Scottie Reynolds, has quite an interesting line.

Reynolds is a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe. He's just a scant 1-for-13 in field goals, however, to total 14 points so far.

Guard Maalik Wayns just fouled out for Villanova.

2:42 p.m.: Well, you don't see that every day. Dallas Green had to turn the coach back to the huddle after a contested foul. Usually it's the coaches restraining the players.

Scottie Reynolds heads to the free-throw line and drops two to tie the game 55-55. It's the first time since 14:37 in the first that the Colonials don't have the lead.

2:40 p.m.: Florida couldn't find an opening, with one of the players hauling a pass from beyond the arc just under the basket.

It was too frenetic, however, as all Florida could do is stand by and watch the ball bounce into BYU hands. A second OT is on the way.

2:39 p.m.: Jimmer Fredette has been huge for BYU all season long.

It might all be for naught as Fredette suffered a costly turnover, giving Florida the ball with 26 seconds left.

2:37 p.m.: The overtime game is tied at 81 with 52 seconds remaining.

Michael Lloyd Jr. is responsible for the last four BYU points.

2:32 p.m.: Any time Villanova gets close, Robert Morris pushes the margin just out of one-possession territory.

The score is currently 55-47 in favor of the Colonials, and you have to wonder if perhaps the Wildcats should quit their 3-point shooting. They're a scant 5-for-21. Robert Morris isn't much better at 4-for-15.

In the overtime battle, Florida has a 79-74 edge.

2:28 p.m.: As Florida-BYU heads to overtime, the Gators are led by Kenny Boynton's 26 points.

The Cougars, however, have Jimmer Fredette's 27. It's the 11th time this season Fredette has scored at least 25 points, and he's coming off 45- and 30-point showings.

No. 13 Murray State will deke it out with No. 4 Vanderbilt in a game starting at 2:30.

2:25 p.m.: BYU can't pull off a shot from beyond halfcourt. OT coming up.

'Nova is still three points behind Robert Morris at 48-45 with six minutes to play.

2:23 p.m.: The Florida-BYU game looks like its headed to overtime. Vernon Macklin swished a free throw for the Gators, then the Colonials' Jimmer Fredette made the all-important two-pointer to keep the game tied.

BYU was able to eke out a timeout with a shred of a second left, so they have one shot to catch and shoot.

2:20 p.m.: Notre Dame's Harangody dropped a two-pointer in at the buzzer, but they needed three.

The first 2010 March Madness game is in the books, with No. 11. Old Dominion upsetting No. 6 Notre Dame.

In other action, Florida has capped off a strong comeback, taking the lead 74-73 against BYU.

Villanova is mounting a comeback as well, and has pulled within three of Robert Morris' 46 points.

2:19 p.m.: A three-point lead for Old Dominion after Keyon Carter sinks two free throws. There are 9.6 seconds remaining.

2:16 p.m.: Harangody has his first two points for the Fighting Irish, and they've pulled within one with 12.6 seconds to play.

Notre Dame had attempted a 3-pointer that went awry just prior to Harangody's layup, and the rebound dunk attempt also went by the wayside.

2:14 p.m.: Florida has come storming back from a double-digit deficit to pull within two of BYU, 68-66.

Robert Morris has expanded its lead against Villanova, 42-36.

2:12 p.m.: We're down to 29.6 seconds to play, and Old Dominion is up 49-46 with Darius James at the charity stripe, hoping to extend the lead — and he misses.

2:09 p.m.: Darius James makes a 3-pointer, and the Monarchs take a 46-43 lead over Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish have been ice-cold from beyond the arc, but Carleton James knocks one down to tie the game up again.

ND is just 6-for-23 for 3's, while Old Dominion is 3-for-13.

2:06 p.m.: There are three minutes left in the Old Dominion-Notre Dame game, and it's still 43-43 — neither team has scored in over two minutes of play.

Luke Harangody is ice-cold, bricking six shots and just being called for his third foul.

2:03 p.m.: Old Dominion just tied the game 43-43. Meanwhile, the margin is still three in the Robert Morris-Villanova game.

1:58 p.m.: Villanova pulled within one on a Corey Stokes 3-pointer. Robert Morris continues to hold strong, however, edging the lead back out to 32-29.

Notre Dame and Old Dominion are in a seesaw battle as both teams keep trading points.

BYU's lead is at eight, 61-53.

1:53 p.m.:  Some key contributors per team follow:

BYU's Jimmer Fredette has 18 points, one rebound, one assist and two steals against the Gators.

Florida has eight points out of Chandler Parsons, who stuffs the stat sheet with four rebounds, five assists and a block.

For Old Dominion, forward Frank Hassell has nine points and six rebounds. Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough (yes, brother of Tyler) has dropped 17 points so far along with five rebounds and three assists.

Villanova has closed Robert Morris' lead to two, 28-26 behind Mouphtaou Yarou's four points and four rebounds. The Colonials are paced by Karon Abraham's nine points.

1:47 p.m.: Robert Morris and Villanova are back in action. It's 28-22 Robert Morris.

Florida is still scrambling to stay close to BYU, the Cougars holding a 49-46 advantage.

Old Dominion is back under, facing a 39-35 deficit against Notre Dame.

1:38 p.m.: Villanova and Notre Dame are two of eight Big East teams in the tournament, most of any conference.

Old Dominion currently holds a slim one-point lead over Notre Dame, 31-30. It's their first lead since 14:50 in the first.

'Nova is down 28-22 at the half and should be resuming play shortly.

1:35 p.m.: Jimmer Fredette leads BYU with 14 points as his team leads 43-38 over Florida.

The Cougars are the second-highest scoring team in the nation, checking in with an average of 83 points per game.

They rank first in free-throw shooting (78.6 percent) and third in 3-point (42 percent). 

So far in this game, BYU is at 66.7 percent in free throws (4-for-6) and 42.9 percent in 3s (3-for-7).

1:31 p.m: Florida-BYU and Old Dominion-Notre Dame are back from their brief respites.

As it stands, Notre Dame holds a 30-27 lead as Ben Finney makes two free throws for the Monarchs.

The Gators are just two points behind BYU, 37-35.

1:25 p.m.: It's time for Villanova and Robert Morris to head to the locker room for halftime.

So far in the early going, Robert Morris is the underdog that's making noise while the higher seeds hold the edge in the other games. It holds a 28-22 lead.

The Colonials should be concerned about lasting the entire game, though, as five players have two fouls. Not good.

The Wildcats have their own concerns, struggling from the charity stripe. The team has made 6 of 10 shots, with four coming due to Scottie Reynolds.

1:21 p.m.: Notre Dame heads into halftime with a 28-22 lead.

Harangody hasn't gotten back into the game yet after being pulled with two personal fouls to his name.

The Fighting Irish and Old Dominion both play slow, deliberate games. That wasn't Notre Dame's M.O. before Harangody missed five games with a knee injury.

However, without the playmaker, ND had to slow its game down. The Irish ripped off six consecutive wins in the new style before dropping out of the Big East tournament.

However, the Monarchs allow just 57 points per game, as they look to control the ball themselves as well. In fact, only one player — center Gerald Lee — averages double figures for the team (14.6 PPG).

1:13 p.m.: It's halftime in the BYU-Florida game, and the Cougars hold a 35-33 lead, after being seven down at one point.

No. 7 BYU is hoping to make the Final Four this year, which would be the first such appearance in school history despite 24 tilts in the tourney.

Their most recent shot at the quarterfinals came in 1981, when BYU's Danny Ainge vanquished Notre Dame during the Sweet 16.

Actually, BYU will probably be happy just to win this game — they're working on an eight-game losing streak, the last win dating all the way back to 1993.

1:08 p.m.: It's way too early to make any assumptions, but Robert Morris holds an imposing 24-17 lead, which means it's on its way to making some history.

The Colonials are part of the Northeast Conference, and a team has represented the conference in the tournament for the last 28 years.

However, the league has never won a first-round game (they've won two of three opening-round games). It's the longest such drought in NCAA Tournament history. Robert Morris lost to Michigan State last year.

1:00 p.m.: BYU is hanging tough with Florida, holding a 35-30 edge. The Fighting Irish are expanding their lead, currently 26-17.

12:54 p.m.: Villanova holds the most lower-seed wins in Madness history with 15, winning the 1985 title as an eight-seed.

However, the No. 2 seed won't face an uphill battle until the Elite Eight at the earliest.

No. 15 Robert Morris, on the other hand, is trying to duplicate some 'Nova magic and so far is succeeding. The Colonials hold a slim 13-11 lead with 9:45 remaining.

Robert Morris guard Karon Abraham has made three of four shots so far, while the rest of the team is just 2-for-8.

12:50 p.m.: Over in the Notre Dame game, Luke Harangody has only taken one shot (missing it) while being assessed two personal fouls.

Not good for the Fighting Irish, who lead 18-15 so far.

Harangody is 88 points behind Austin Carr for most points in ND history, but he has a checkered past in the NCAA Tournament.

In three career tourney games, Harangody has tallied 32 points. Carr holds the record for most points in a single tournament game, dropping 61 on Ohio in 1970.

12:46 p.m.: Florida has taken the lead, edging BYU 24-19 with eight minutes left in the first half.

BYU's Jimmer Fredette has eight points so far. Out of all the participants in this tournament, only four players can beat his 21.4 points per game average.

Florida coach Billy Donovan called Fredette one of the best-kept secrets in college basketball this year.

If Fredette can guide BYU to a couple victories, here's betting he becomes this year's version of Stephen Curry — known to college basketball aficionados, but who's career was injected with helium following a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament.

12:39 p.m.: Scottie Reynolds has just made it into the game with 'Nova leading 7-5.

In other action, Notre Dame has gotten off to a comfortable start, leading 12-6 against Old Dominion.

BYU and Florida are locked into a battle, with BYU currently ahead 13-11.

12:34 p.m.: Robert Morris-Villanova is underway. While 'Nova is a No. 2 seed going against a No. 15, the Wildcats have lost five of their last seven.

At least they have the president behind him — Barack Obama has Villanova advancing to the Final Four.

12:30 p.m.: It's not often the first score of a basketball game is 1-0, but that's exactly what happened when Notre Dame's Tyrone Nash stepped to the free-throw line just now.

Notre Dame is going against Old Dominion, and the Fighting Irish are hoping to make today a second straight day of Irish pride.

12:25 p.m.: While BYU has Jimmer Fredette, Florida has history on its side: the Gators are working on an 11-game NCAA tournament win streak.

Even though they didn't play in the tourney the last two years, their win streak is still active. Should they defeat BYU, Florida will tie Duke for the second-longest win streak in March Madness.

They have a ways to go to match UCLA's 38 set in the 1960s-'70s.

12:20 p.m.: And we're off, with Florida taking on BYU. The first points of the game are scored by BYU's Tyler Haws, who nets a mid-range jumper.

8:05 a.m.: Thursday tips off a slate of 16 men's NCAA Tournament basketball games, otherwise known as heaven for a sports aficionado.

Today will have a Texas flavor to things, as four Texas teams will do battle: Sam Houston takes on fellow Texas college Baylor, North Texas faces a steep challenge against Kansas State and UTEP takes on Indiana's Butler University.

Friday will see three other Texas-based teams play ball, in Houston, Texas and Texas A&M. In fact, the state has tied the record for total teams sent to the tournament. California sent seven in 2002 — but only two got past the first round.

Watch No. 2 Villanova's tilt against No. 15 Robert Morris at 12:30 p.m.: the Wildcats' Scottie Reynolds is a lock to see his jersey hanging from the rafters someday. He'll be hoping to repeat some March Madness magic, as his half-court dash in 2009 for the winning layup with just a half-second left against Pittsburgh locked in a Final Four berth for Nova for the first time since 1985.

The first game pits No. 10 Florida against No. 7 BYU at 12:20 p.m. If you're stuck at work or in class, NESN.com will have updates right here, all day. If you're lucky enough to watch the games, keep your eyes on this live blog and learn more about what's going on.

Here's the full slate of today's games to be covered between 12:15 p.m. and 5 p.m.:

No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 BYU, 12:20 p.m.
No. 11 Old Dominion vs. No. 6 Notre Dame, 12:25 p.m.
No. 15 Robert Morris vs. No. 2 Villanova, 12:30 p.m.
No. 13 Murray State vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt, 2:30 p.m.
No. 15 North Texas vs. No. 2 Kansas State, 2:40 p.m.
No. 14 Sam Houston State vs. No. 3 Baylor, 2:45 p.m.
No. 10 Saint Mary's vs. No. 7 Richmond, 2:50 p.m.
No. 12 UTEP vs. No. 5 Butler, 4:45 p.m.

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