12:45 a.m.: An interesting day in college basketball is finally in the books.
It all started with No. 6 Murray State taking care of business and it ended with a wild finish, as No. 11 Colorado outsed No. 6 UNLV with a 68-64 win.
no. 1 Syracuse almost saw their dreams of a national title turn into a nightmare and historic ending, as No. 16 UNC-Asheville gave them the scare of all scares for much of the afternoon. But in the end, Cuse prevailed 72-65.
UConn went down in ugly fashion to Iowa St., 77-64, as the 2011 NCAA champion was ousted in the first round. Meanwhile, Indiana dropped the hammer on New Mexico St. after a slow start, moving on with a 69-56 win.
The biggest surprise, or should I say "Shocker" of the day was No. 12 VCU's triumphant return to the tournament. Last year's cinderella did it again on Thursday, taking down No. 5 seed Wichita St. in a tough test of will. Eventually the Rams came out victorious and finally put the Shockers away 62-59,despite a last second 3-ball that could have tied things up for Wichita.
Overall, a great day of college hoops. Plenty of more drama, fantastic finishes and excitement is expected on Friday. Tune into NESN for more analysis and insight into everything College Basketball!
11:15 p.m.: Uconn's making a comeback!
With just over 4 minutes left, the Huskies have put together a nice little run and are looking to turn the current nine-point deficit into a victory. Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb are doing their best to make sure the current 61-52 score turns, and fast.
In other basketball related news, Indiana is dominating New Mexico St., 54-38, after a topsy-turvy first half.
And No. 6 UNLV finds themselves fighting from behind against No. 11 Colorado, as the Buffaloes lead 31-19 with just a couple minutes left in the first half.
10:21 p.m.: Iowa St. 41, Uconn 31, Half.
Uconn is making a charge, here. Last year's NCAA champs fell behind quickly in their opening round game on Thursday. But Jim Calhoun's boys are making this a game.
The Cyclones jumped out to a quick 22-point lead in the first half and it looked as if UConn's title defense would be coming to an end as quickly as it started. As College Football's own Lee Corso would say, 'Not so fast, my friend!'
The Huskies finished off the half on a 16-4 run to close the gap to just 10 by the time they hit the locker rooms. Sophomore Shabazz "the jazz" Napier took control for UConn down the stretch of the half, scoring 12 points and dishing out six assists as the Huskies look to force a rematch with No. 1-overall seed Kentucky come Saturday.
Can they pull their own version of BYU's epic Tuesday run and make the comeback happen?
10:01 p.m.: Baylor 68, South Dakota St. 60, FINAL.
In a day of close calls for a number of underdogs, No. 14 South Dakota State's run at an upset over No. 3 Baylor fell just short.
SDSU, not to be mistaken for San Diego State, was seen as being mis-seeded for the tourney this year as the school's 27-7 record was better than a number of tourney teams rated higher than them.
The Jack Rabbits jumped out to an early lead over the Bears, and went into the half down just nine. But a late game run by Baylor, led by Brady Heislip and Pierre Jackson (17 points each), helped the Bears escape a sure trap game and one of the tournament's biggest-ever upsets.
9:44 p.m.: Gonzaga is back to their old tricks.
Just when everyone seemed to be jumping off the Zags bandwagon, Mark Few and G-men go out and lambaste a solid West Virginia team.
The Zags won in a landslide, 77-54, sending Kevin Jones and the Mountaineers back home early. The Zags are looksing at a likley meeting with Ohio State in the round of 32, but with a performance similare that on Thursday they may just take down the Buckeyes.
9:25 p.m.: VCU 62, Wichita St. 59, FINAL.
Shaka Smart and VCU did it again.
The Cinderella school that shocked everyone on the way to the 2011 Final Four, were shocking once again on Thursday and this time against the Shockers.
A late push by Wichita almost pulled out the victory, but the Rams held tight and a late 3-pointer by Bradford Burgess (game-high 16 points) helped keep VCU on top. A last ditch 3-pointer by Wichita went back rim and out, which was a bummer for anyone in on the Shockers Sweet 16 bandwagon, but I guess Shaka just outsmarted the higher seed yet again.
9:05 p.m.: VCU 54, Wichita St. 51, 6:43 2nd Half.
Wichita St. is certainly not going down without a fight. After falling behind by as much as a 13 here in the second half, the Shockers have mounted a comeback with some solid defense.
Carl Hall has been a force off the bench with a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while the Shockers have upped their defense forcing the Rams into five turnovers in the past five minutes.
Elsewhere, Kentucky rolled to an easy win over in-state rival Western Kentucky with an 81-66 win. Player of the year candidate Anthony Davis posted 16 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks in his outing.
Gonzaga also leads by a big margin against West Virginia with a 61-36 lead late in the second half.
8:42 p.m.: Baylor 36, South Dakota State 28,Half.
No. 14 South Dakota State busted out to an early 19-9 lead and looked ready to down the No. 3 seeded Baylor Bears. But a late half run by Baylor has them leading by eight at the half and hoping to take full control in the second half.
Elsewhere in college basketball land, No. 12 VCU 41-30 continues to lead No. 5 Wichita State with 15:00 left in the second half. Bradford Burgess has a game-high 13 for the Rams and Shaka Smart's defense has forced the Shockers into 10 turnovers already in this one.
Let's see if either school can actually pull the upset, here tonight.
7:45 p.m.: VCU 21, Wichita St 18, 7:01 1st Half.
Virginia Commonwealth has picked up exactly where they left off in the 2011 NCAA tournament, as the Rams have taken the lead over No. 5 seed Wichita State.
The Shockers are just that, shocked, at how the game's progressed thus far with VCU putting together a gutsy effort and taking a three point lead more than midway through the first.
Can the Rams make another epic run to the Final Four this year? Unlikely seeing as Kentucky, whoo leads Western Kentucky 45-26 at halftime in their game, would be waiting for them come the Sweet 16. But then again, you never know.
I suppose we should see if the Rams can pull the upset here against Wichita before jumping to any conclusions.
7:12 p.m.: Vanderbilt 79, Havard 70, FINAL.
The Crimson will be heading home just one game into their NCAA Tournament life.
After making a tournament appearance for the first time since 1946, No. 12 Harvard had high hopes seeking to take down No. 5 Vanderbilt in the second round. But the Crimson dug themselves into a very lage hole early in the game, and just didn't have enough time to bring it all the way back.
In the end, Laurent Rivard's 20-point effort will be an outstanding highlight to build upon as the team looks to return to the tourney many times in years to come.
6:48 p.m.: Vanderbilt 70, Harvard 64, 2:01 2nd Half.
Here comes Harvard!
Guard Laurent Rivard is forcing the Crimson into a potential upset situation, here. Rivard has scored 20 points off the bench and has sparked some new life in Harvard, who trail by just six points as the game winds down.
The Crimson, who have struggled with Vanderbilt's length and perimeter shooting for much of the game, have climbed back from a near 20-point deficit and are making a late push.
6:35 p.m.: New Mexico 75, Long Beach State 68, FINAL.
The upset try fell short for the 49ers on Thursday, as a very tough Lobos bunch just wouldn't relinquish the lead and knocked down all their free throws as the game wound down.
Forward Drew Gordon capped the game off with two free throws at the line, adding to his impressive stat line of 18 points and 13 rebounds on the afternoon.
6:04 p.m.: New Mexico 54, Long Beach St 53, 7:40 2nd Half.
Another upset may be in the works as No. 12 LBSU is looking to take down the Lobos.
Casper Ware and his 49ers teammates are making a run in the second half and have the crowd behind them, rooting for a late break towards the annual 12-5 upset.
5:57 p.m.: Vanderbilt 33, Harvard 23, HALF.
The Crimson were looking good through much of the first half, sitting within just a few points. But they were forced to watch as Vandy got hot from outside late in the half (5-for-9 from 3-pointers) and pushed the lead to double digits by the time they hit the locker room.
Keith Wright and Kyle Casey, both of Harvard's big guns offensively, struggled mightily against the Commodores combining for just six points in the first half.
Let's see if the Crimson can turn it around in the second half.
5:41 p.m.: Syracuse 72, UNC-Asheville 65, FINAL.
The miracle runs ends in controversy, as a bad call by the referree may have cost UNC-Asheville a chance at college basketball history.
With the Bulldogs down just three points, UNC-Asheville forced Syracuse into a turnover in their own end and were prepared for a tie game.
A deflected pass off of Cuse's Brandon Triche went out of bounds, but the referree standing along the sidelines indicated that it was out on UNC and awarded the ball to the Orange.
From there, Syracuse nailed down a few buckets inside and knocked down their free throws to ice UNC-Asheville's run towards the record books
5:33 p.m.: Syracuse 64, UNC-Asheville 61, 1:03 2nd Half.
The upset lives.
UNC-Asheville has locked down some good defense and nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to just three with a little over a minute to go.
The crowd is completely into this one and rooting heavily for thwe Bulldogs.
5:20 p.m.: Suracuse 62, UNC-Asheville 54, 2:10 2nd Half.
That may be all she wrote, folks.
Syracuse, who trailed for much of the afternoon, looks to be finally pulling away from UNC-Asheville, as a Dion Waiter 3-pointer puts the Orange up by eight points with just over two minutes to go.
5:15 p.m.: Marquette 88, BYU 68, FINAL.
It's all over in Louisville, KY as Marquette finally put the Cougars to rest with a late run to advance onto the round of 32 on Saturday.
Jae Crowder finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds, while Darius Johnson-Odom scored 20 to help the effort.
BYU was led by 19 points and 11 rebounds from Brandon Davies, but 17 turnovers killed the Cougars in the end as Marquette's up-tempo attack proved too much.
5:09 p.m.: Syracuse 54, UNC-Asheville 52, 7:21 2nd Half.
Cuse is back on top and looks primed to pull away from the scrappy Bulldogs. J.P. Primm and Jeremy Atkinson just won't let UNC go quietly, though, as they continue strong play around the perimeter.
We'll see if the Bulldogs can hang the rest of the way or if the Orange are just too strong.
5:03 p.m.: Long Beach St. 26, New Mexico 25, 3:39 in 1st Half.
Long Beach is looking more like strong beach, right about now. The 49ers are showing off the same confidence that helped them take down Pittsburgh and Xavier during the regular season. Casper Ware's got six points and four assists so far to lead the 49ers.
As for UNM, Drew Gordon has been pretty quiet in the first half with just four points and three rebounds.
4:53 p.m.: Syracuse 41, UNC-Asheville 40, 14:56.
Syracuse reclaims the lead for the first time since the 14 minute mark in the first half. A few Scoop Jardine buckets and Rakeem Christmas continues to wrangle the ball off the glass with a game-high seven rebounds on the day.
UNC-Asheville's Jaron Lane looks to be struggling to start the second half, after a strond 9-point effort in the first.
4:45 p.m.: Marquette 74, BYU 61, 7:00.
Brigham Young made a run to start the 2nd half, cutting Marquette's lead down to just eight points. But Darius Johnson-Odom (16 points) hit a few buckets and the Golden Eagles continued their dominance on the glass, as Jae Crowder added to his totals with 23 points and 14 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles are lighting it up from 3-point land on the day too, shooting 8-for-18 on the afternoon to help lead the charge.
4:20 p.m.: UNC-Asheville goes into the locker room with a four-point lead. It looked like Syracuse's Kris Joseph was going to move the Orange to within two, maybe one, with a basket and a foul, but a review showed that the shot clock expired first.
So yeah, No. 16 takes a four-point lead to the half over No. 1 for just the second time in tournament history.
4:15 p.m.: UNC-Asheville has hit four 3-pointers, but the real bad news for Syracuse thus far is how easily the Bulldogs have gottten into the lane. The Orange is all about keeping teams out of the lane with the zone, but so far, it isn't working as planned.
Some of that has to do with Melo's absence, but it has just as much, if not more, to do with the fact that Syracuse is late in its rotations far too often. They need to step it up if they want to avoid becoming the biggest embarassment in NCAA tournament history.
4:02 p.m.: It's still way too early, but you can't ignore the fact that UNC-Asheville is giving Syracuse a game. In fact, with 6:17 to play in the first half, the Bulldogs lead the Orange 25-22. Still early, but keep an eye on this one.
Meanwhile, Louisville survived a late charge from Davidson to advance while Marquette is all over BYU at the half and Wisconsin is cruising against Montana.
3:34 p.m.: If you take a look across the scoreboard, you'll see that each game — aside from the Syracuse game that just started — has leads that have grown to double digits.
Davidson is giving Louisville a fight, but it looks like the Cardinals are just too much while both Wisconsin and Marquette are beating up on Montana and BYU repsectively.
It will certainly be interesting to watch Syracuse in their first-round tilt with UNC-Asheville that tipped at 3:10 p.m. The Orange under Jim Boheim are defensive-minded, but we'll have to see how that philosophy, or the execution of the philosophy, shifts without Fab Melo. There are plenty who had to bust out the erasers on their bracket after the Melo suspension, but could Syracuse be the first No. 1 seed to succomb to a 16-seed? Unlikely, but who knows.
2:55 p.m.: Some Southern Miss shooting problems down the stretch kept the Golden Eagles' clash with Kansas State from being an instant classic, but it was a decent game nonetheless.
K-State made its free throws down the stretch, and as a result, they'll likely get Syracuse in the round of 32. That's a game that the Wildcat could actually win, especially given the fact the Orange will be without Fab Melo who's out for the tournament.
Louisville and Davidson just opened the second half with Louisville nursing a single-digit lead while Wisconsin takes a 39-29 lead into the locker room against Montana.
2:25 p.m.: We have our first final of the day, as Murray State probably opened some eyes with an 18-point stomping of Colorado State. Then again, it was Colorado State, a team that was probably overseeded as an 11.
Meanwhile, we could have our first real barn-burner in Pittsburgh, as Kansas State and Southern Miss are giving us all you can ask for in an 8-9 game. The Golden Eagles literally just tied it up forcing Frank Martin to take a timeout with 7:47 to play.
2 p.m.: We've turned our attention to the Kansas State-Southern Miss game, as Murray State sees its lead over Colorado State grow to double digits.
Southern Miss, a program seeking its first NCAA tournament win, has come out hot in the second with a 12-5 run to open play.
And in Portland, we've got an upset alert! Just kidding, actually, but the West's No. 13 seeds, Montana, leads No. 4 Louisville after the first half's second media timeout.
1:30 p.m. ET: Murray State "raced" out to a quick start in the second half to grow their lead some, but Colorado State doesn't look like they're going to go away.
Meanwhile, this is what it looks likewhen you get popped in the face during an NCAA tournament game.
In the afternoon's other tilt, Kansas State took a lead into halftime over Southern Miss, but the Golden Eagles made a nice little run in the first half to ensure they'd only go to the break trailing by one.
12:45 p.m. ET: Colorado State came out firing in Louisville, but Murray State was able to slow the Rams some.
The one-loss Racers withstood the early barrage and have stormed back to take a five-point lead with five minutes to play in the first half.
Meanwhile, Southern Miss and Kansas State have tipped in an 8-9 matchup in Pittsburgh with K-State jumping out to an early lead.
12:15 p.m. ET: And we're off in Kentucky at the KFC Yum! Center, as Colorado State and Murray State get things under way.
For what it's worth, the teams tipped off with "Sandstorm" playing in the back around, and by some unofficial calculations, that marks the fifth straight game to start with that song. It sure sounded like all four "First Four" games had that song playing at tip as well.
The 2012 NCAA Tournament: "From Sandstorm to One Shining Moment"
11:45 a.m. EST: Good morning, college hoops fans.
We're now roughly a half-hour away from opening tip in the day's first game, as Murray State will take on Colorado State.
Shortly after that, Southern Miss and Kansas State will go at it with tip at 12:40 p.m.
In fact, if you want to get caught up on all of today's schedule, you can just click here.
And while you wait for the games to get going, here are some more tournament-related links:
8 a.m. EST: It's the best time of the year to be a college basketball fan as the NCAA tournament kicks off on Thursday.
It's true that the "First Four" games actually count as the first round making Thursday and Friday's slate of games the second round, but for all intents and purposes, the tourney kicks off Thursday.
We'll waste no time getting down to business, as 16 games are set to tip off on Thursday, starting with Murray State and Colorado State doing battle at 12:15 p.m. EST.
No. 1 seeds Syracuse and Kentucky will also open their tournaments with an eye on New Orleans.
Locally, Harvard gets its first chance at a tournament win in more than 50 years, as they tangle with Vanderbilt in one of the day's late games.
We'll be updating the action throughout the day, so check back early and often for all of the madness.
NESN.com's college basketball coverage is presented by Bovada.net.
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