The Latest on the first round of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):
No. 15 seed Bradley is leading Michigan State 35-34 at halftime after making 6 of 9 3-pointers the first 20 minutes, including back-to-back 3s by reserve guard Nate Kennell.
Elijah Childs, the 6-foot-7 Bradley forward who gives up at least 20 pounds to Michigan State’s big men, is holding his own with 11 points and four rebounds. Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye has nine points for the Missouri Valley Conference’s Braves.
Cassius Winston has scored 13 points for the Spartans, who are just 2 for 10 on 3s and 11 for 30 overall from the field.
— Eric Olson reporting from Des Moines, Iowa—
Florida State has a 66-58 lead over 13th-seed Vermont with 2:12 left.
The Catamounts have made bigger Seminoles work hard for baskets and they have filled it up from 3-point range, going 12 for 25. But the 3s haven’t been falling as frequently and Florida State is asserting itself.
Terrance Mann got out in transition for a layup that extended the lead and put Vermont on the brink of sliding out of the game.
—Ralph Russo reporting from Hartford, Connecticut
The first wild finish of the first round is in the books. Fifth-seeded Auburn has held on for a 78-77 win over New Mexico State in the Midwest Region
With the Aggies trailing by two points, A.J. Harris had an open layup he passed up in order to fling the ball to Terrell Brown behind the 3-point line. Brown was fouled with 1.7 seconds left, but he made only one of three free throws.
The Aggies maintained possession after the ball went out of bounds and found Trevelin Queen for an-open 3-pointer at the buzzer, but he fired an airball and the Tigers prevailed in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Vermont has already made some history, regardless of the outcome against Florida State. Ernie Duncan, a senior, Everett Duncan, a junior, and Robin Duncan, a freshman, became the first trio of brothers to ever play in the same NCAA Tournament game.
Vermont officials say the Duncans are just the fifth trio to play on the same Division I men’s team. In January, the three brothers joined Villanova’s Herron trio of the 1970s as the only three brothers to start the same game. The Duncans are the first set of three brothers to play on the same NCAA team since the Plumlees at Duke.
— Pat Eaton-Robb reporting from Hartford, Connecticut.
Florida State used a 6-0 run to take a 50-45 with 9:01 left in the second half.
The run was capped by Mfiondu Kabengele’s dunk in transition.
It matches the Seminoles’ largest lead of the game. Vermont has cooled off from 3-point range, going 1 for 6 after starting 9 for 16.
— Ralph Russo reporting from Hartford, Connecticut
Belmont is missing one of its top backups for the East Regional game against Maryland.
Freshman forward Caleb Hollander remained at the team hotel in Jacksonville with an illness, forcing the 11th-seeded Bruins to go without a player who averaged 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Hollander dressed for the play-in game on Tuesday, but didn’t get on the court. With Belmont playing again for the second time in less than 48 hours, he wasn’t even able to make the trip to the arena.
— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida
Michigan State has its hands full with 15th-seeded Bradley midway through the first half of its NCAA Tournament game in Des Moines, Iowa.
Darrell Brown’s 3-pointer gave the Braves of the Missouri Valley Conference a six-point lead less than four minutes into the game. The Spartans used a 9-0 run to take the lead, but Brown hit a deep 3-pointer to tie it at 18-all.
Michigan State lost to Middle Tennessee as a No. 2 seed in 2016. The Spartans haven’t made it past the second round in three appearances since 2015.
— Eric Olson reporting from Des Moines, Iowa
Vermont started the second half with a couple more 3-pointers and is still in a tight game with Florida State.
Florida State led 44-43 with 11:34 remaining.
The 13th-seeded Catamounts have beaten a No. 4 seed in the NCAA before, knocking out Syracuse in 2005.
-Ralph Russo reporting from Hartford, Connecticut.
Vermont used the 3-point shot to force a 27-27 halftime tie with a much taller Florida State team.
The Catamounts had just 10 baskets before intermission, but seven of those came from behind the arc.
Vermont also didn’t let their lack of size prevent them from hitting the glass. The 13th seed, which didn’t start a player taller than 6-foot-6, outrebounded Florida State 20-18.
The Seminoles had a 14-0 run midway through the half to lead 21-16, but found themselves tied at the break.
—Pat Eaton-Robb reporting from Hartford, Connecticut.
Third-seeded LSU has advanced in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament, holding off upset-minded Yale 79-74.
The Tigers led 45-29 at halftime and pushed the edge to as many as 18 points before the Bulldogs rallied down the stretch with a barrage of 3-pointers.
But LSU made enough free throws to hold off No. 14 seed Yale, which was trying for the Ivy League’s first victory in the tournament since its upset of Baylor in 2016.
The Tigers will face the winner of Belmont-Maryland game on Saturday. Yale’s season ended with a record of 22-8.
— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.
LSU freshman Emmitt Williams took quite a spill during the Tigers’ game against Yale.
Belmont’s radio announcer fared even worse.
Williams tumbled over press row in the second half while pursuing a loose ball, winding up on the floor behind the table. He knocked over several drinks, busted a chair and wound up on top of Belmont play-by-play man Kevin Ingram, who was watching the game while preparing for the Bruins’ contest against Maryland.
Ingram was a little sore but insisted he was OK after the encounter with Williams, who is 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. His slacks were soaked and the cover of his iPad was cracked, but the device he got as a Christmas gift survived the collision. Ingram picked up a smashed cup as a souvenir, saying it’s “going home with me.”
Ingram knows he’ll get plenty of ribbing from his friends. He joked that “this is not the way I wanted to be on ESPN.”
Williams remained in the game, though his jersey and shorts were noticeably marked up with soft drink stains.
— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.
Freshman Gabe Kalscheur scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half to lead No. 10 seed Minnesota past No. 7 seed Louisville 86-76 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The win was Richard Pitino’s first in the tournament in his six seasons with the Gophers and extra sweet because it came against the school that fired his father, Rick Pitino, in 2017.
Backed by a throng of fans who made the easy drive to central Iowa, the Gophers were at their best in the East Region game. They took the lead midway through the first half and built it to 19 with 9:48 left.
Kalscheur made five of the Gophers’ 11 3-pointers while scoring his second-most points of the season. Minnesota’s starters did all the scoring. The Gophers are the first team to win with no bench points since Norfolk State beat Missouri in 2012.
Louisville, which lost nine of its final 14 games, got 22 points from Christen Cunningham.
—Eric Olson reporting from Des Moines, Iowa
Yale didn’t bring its pep band to the NCAA Tournament.
North Florida filled in for the Bulldogs.
Donning navy blue T-shirts with “Yale” emblazoned across the front, the Ospreys’ pep band provided a musical accompaniment for the Ivy League champions during their opening game against LSU.
They really got into it, too. Not only were they wearing Yale colors, the 22-member group cheered loudly for the underdog team and joined in cheers such as “Defense! Defense!” and “Let’s go Bulldogs!”
North Florida band director Stephen Putnam says he’s not sure why Yale’s band didn’t come to the tournament, but he assumes it’s because the school is on spring break and couldn’t get all its members together. North Florida is also on spring break, but many of its students live in Jacksonville, so they were thrilled to get a chance to attend the NCAA tournament.
Putnam says “we have great school spirit at UNF, but we’re proud to bring it for Yale today.” He called it a good matchup because the Bulldogs are from “the best school in the Ivy League, and North Florida is the best school in the A-Sun.”
Actually, the Ospreys were 14-19 this season and failed to make the second NCAA appearance in school history.
But at least their band made it to the Big Dance.
— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.
New Mexico State went nearly seven minutes without scoring, but the Aggies closed the first half only trailing Auburn 32-29.
Chuma Okeke leads the fifth-seeded Tigers with eight points. Johnny McCants has 10 for the 12th-seeded Aggies, including a 3-pointer he banked in as the shot-clock buzzer was going off.
The teams came into March Madness with conference titles and large winning streaks in tow.
Auburn, the Southeastern Conference Tournament champion, has won eight straight. New Mexico State, champion of the Western Athletic Conference, has won 19 in a row.
—Eddie Pells in Salt Lake City.
LSU’s Tremont Waters is giving Yale fits in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers’ 5-foor-11 point guard is hitting shots, blowing by defenders and making everything happen for the third-seeded Tigers in the East Region.
LSU leads the 14th-seeded Bulldogs 45-29 at halftime thanks partly to Waters’ 13 points and six assists. Waters was a staggering plus-19 in a little more than 18 minutes on the court.
Yale, the best 3-point shooting team in the Ivy League this season, missed 14 of 17 from beyond the arc.
—Mark Long reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.
Minnesota has taken a 50-38 lead over Louisville early in the second half of the first game of the day, no doubt buoyed a bit by a friendly crowd with the arena in Des Moines, Iowa, just 250 miles south of campus.
Louisville has the most famous fan in the building on its side, with movie star Bill Murray sitting in the seats in support of his son, Luke Murray, who’s an assistant coach for the Cardinals. Luke Murray followed head coach Chris Mack from Xavier, where Bill Murray used to show his allegiance.
Just like in the movie “Caddyshack,” Murray is having trouble with Gophers. Amir Coffey had 13 points in the first half.
— Luke Meredith reporting from Des Moines, Iowa
Florida State forward Phil Cofer was not in uniform for warmups before the No. 4 seed Seminoles’ game against No. 13 seed Vermont. He was wearing a protective boot on his right foot.
The 6-foot-8 Cofer has averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. He missed the Seminoles’ first nine games of the season with a right foot injury suffered during a preseason practice. Cofer has started 19 games this season, including the last 15.
— Pat Eaton-Robb reporting from Hartford, Connecticut
The journey to the NCAA Tournament has been such a whirlwind that Iowa forward Nicholas Baer got confused about where he was.
Hawkeyes players were among the first to meet the press on Thursday morning, and Baer was asked if he thought the team had gotten the attention it deserved this season. Baer started out OK, delivering a standard reply.
“We never get too concerned about attention or anything like that,” he said. “Obviously we have an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. That’s something that we’re grateful for and really looking forward to this opportunity to play in Cincinnati, and hope we’ll be here for a while.”
But he wasn’t in Cincinnati.
A reporter tried to help him out.
“It’s Columbus, you knew that?”
Baer recovered: “I did know that.”
The Hawkeyes do play Cincinnati in the first round, though, on Friday afternoon at Nationwide Arena in Ohio’s capital city.
— Mitch Stacy reporting from Columbus, Ohio
Washington has rewarded coach Mike Hopkins for returning the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament with a contract extension through the 2025 season.
The contract extension was announced on Thursday. The ninth-seeded Huskies open the NCAAs on Friday against No. 8 seed Utah State. It’s Washington’s first appearance in the tournament since 2011.
Hopkins is 47-21 in his two seasons at Washington, turning around a program that won nine games the season before he arrived. He’s twice been named the Pac-12 coach of the year and the Huskies ran away with the Pac-12 regular season title this year.
Terms of the contract were not announced.
As excited as Oklahoma’s Kristian Doolittle is for the NCAA Tournament, he’ll pass on watching the opening-round games deep into Thursday night.
“I’m going to go to sleep tonight,” he said. “We play at 12:30 (Friday). Can’t be up too late.”
The ninth-seeded Sooners (19-13) face No. 8 seed Ole Miss in the NCAA’s South Regional, the first of four games Friday in Columbia, South Carolina.
Doolittle is a 6-foot-7 junior third on the team with 11.2 points a game. He’s part of his second straight NCAA team, following Oklahoma’s first-round loss to Rhode Island in overtime a year ago.
“We put a lot of work into this game, game planned really well for Ole Miss,” he said. “And we get a new mindset of this could be our last game.
— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia, South Carolina
The first round has begun in Des Moines, Iowa, with coach Richard Pitino’s Minnesota team facing Louisville, the team that fired his father, Rick Pitino, in 2017.
Pitino downplayed the matchup this week, saying that “all that other stuff didn’t even really cross my mind.”
The Gophers are the No. 10 seed in the East Region, looking for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2013. Pitino is seeking his first such victory in six seasons at Minnesota. The Gophers should benefit from a friendly crowd, since they’re playing less than 250 miles from campus.
Louisville is the No. 7 seed, a five-point favorite to advance and likely face Michigan State — who the Cardinals beat in November— for a trip to the Sweet 16.
— Luke Meredith reporting from Des Moines, Iowa
The buzz of an unprecedented Duke-North Carolina national championship game has been building all month. That’s the consensus from the crowd of bracket-pickers across the country, too.
As the deadline approached for finalizing those predictions in office pools and just-for-fun family contests, 36.6 percent of entrants on ESPN’s online platform picked Duke to win it all. Next was rival North Carolina at 15.8 percent, followed by the other No. 1 seeds Gonzaga (8.9 percent) and Virginia (8.3 percent).
Over at Yahoo, Duke was named as the champ on a whopping 46.6 percent of entries, with North Carolina coming in next at 16.1 percent. Gonzaga (9.0 percent) and Virginia (6.5 percent) followed.
Duke tips off against North Dakota State on Friday night in the East Region.
Millions of brackets are filled with millions of guesses, and it’s time to find out how they fare.
The crush of March Madness hits Thursday with 16 games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Reigning champion Villanova is playing, and so is Michigan, the runner-up from last season.
Kansas and Michigan State are also in action, two of the more popular picks each year.
Murray State’s Ja Morant is going up against Marquette’s Markus Howard, a matchup of two of the biggest stars in the field.
The action begins just after noon Eastern with seventh-seeded Louisville playing No. 10 seed Minnesota.
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