SportsPulse: We have our first real bracket buster of the tournament: UC Irvine. USA TODAY’s Scott Gleeson explains how they did it and if they’re a threat to make a legit cinderella run.
March Madness is in full swing, with Thursday’s first-round action delivering on excitement but leaving our thirst for bracket-busting upsets not relatively quenched. Now we’re back for more, providing wall-to-wall college basketball for the entire day as the remaining teams start the first round.
Follow all of Friday’s NCAA tournament action here with in-game and post-game analysis on all 16 games, as well as the biggest news of the day. All times Eastern.
► No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Iona: The Gaels have come out in attack mode and taken the heavily-favored Tar Heels off-guard, while draining 10 first half three-pointers for a 38-33 halftime lead. Wonder what coach Roy Williams is saying at halftime.
► FINAL — LIBERTY 80, MISSISSIPPI STATE 76: The Flames became the tournament’s second true Cinderella by knocking off the more athletic Bulldogs. Caleb Homesley’s 30 points and Lovell Cabbil Jr.’s clutch play down the stretch spearheaded the huge upset.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 16 North Dakota State
FINAL SCORE — DUKE 85, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 62: After a sluggish first half in which the Blue Devils trailed by four, Zion Williamson and his Duke teammates came out in the second half reminding everyone why they’re this tournament’s top overall seed. Five minutes into the second half, the game was practically over and Williamson (25 points) and his national player of the year teammate R.J. Barrett (26 points, 14 rebounds) put the game out of reach with their above-the-rim playmaking. “We dug ourselves a hole against a really good team,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said at halftime. His young team dug themselves out of it — with determination — in the second half.
- 4:30 remaining: The Blue Devils are up 79-49 and both Zion Williamson (25 points) and R.J. Barrett (26 points) are sitting on the bench.
- 7 minutes remaining: Duke now leads 73-47 and it’s likely coach Mike Krzyzewski will be subbing out his superstar freshmen. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett have combined for 46 points so far.
- 11:57 remaining: The Blue Devils are pulling away now with teammates Zion Williamson (23 points) and R.J. Barrett (17 points) starring to give Duke a 61-35 lead.
- 16 minutes remaining: Duke was out in front 44-30 at the first TV timeout of the second half behind Williamson’s 18 points.
- 17:56 remaining: Williamson sparked a 9-0 run to give Duke a commanding 40-27 lead just two minutes into the second half.
- Halftime: All eyes were on human highlight reel Zion Williamson as the top overall seeded Blue Devils tried to show off their high-octane offense against this mid-major No. 16 seed from the Summit League. But they ran into a brick wall against the Bison, who trailed just 31-27 at the end of the first half.
- Duke started pretty slow, but Williamson’s monster dunk off an R.J. Barrett pass gave the Blue Devils their first lead of the game 18-16. It was back and forth all half as the North Dakota State showed no signs of going out quietly in this tournament. Williamson has 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting while Barrett also has 10. NDSU’s Vinnie Shahid is leading all scorers with 15 points.
Other evening results
► FINAL — WASHINGTON 78, UTAH STATE 61: The Pac-12 champion Huskies had more punch all game and used a stifling defense to force the Mountain West’s Aggies into 21 turnovers that they capitalized on. Utah State turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and Washington accordingly capitalized. Forward Noah Dickerson paced Washington with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
► FINAL SCORE — HOUSTON 84, GEORGIA STATE 55: The Cougars built a double-digit lead early and kept the game out of reach throughout as Corey Davis Jr’s six consecutive three-pointers (and seven total) kept the Panthers far away from striking distance.
Friday’s first eight games
Thank you! You’re almost signed up for
Keep an eye out for an email to confirm your newsletter registration.
No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Oregon (TBS)
FINAL — OREGON 72, WISCONSIN 54: The Ducks looked like the better team from the get-go and didn’t let up against the Badgers. They got a big lift from forward Kenny Wooten (9 points, four blocks), who had three monstrous dunks in the second half and a key block of star Ethan Happ that helped shake off any bit of momentum Wisconsin was trying to cook up. Payton Pritchard (19 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals) ran this team, which has found its identity at exactly the right time after a turbulent earlier half of the season. The loss was the first for the Big Ten, which had gone 6-0 before Wisconsin’s upset loss.
- 6:33 p.m.: Wisconsin coach Greg Gard called a timeout to try to rally the Badgers as they trail this determined Oregon team 59-47 in crunch time. 4:14 left.
- 6:18 p.m.: The 12th-seeded Ducks have built a 48-42 lead midway through the second half of their first-round matchup with No. 5 Wisconsin. Oregon was a trendy upset pick entering the contest having just won the Pac-12 tournament to earn its entree into the NCAAs. 9 minutes remaining
- Halftime: This one’s a rock fight as neither team can score much in a 25–25 tie a the break. But the Ducks certainly aren’t looking the part of a No. 12 seed. Oregon’s Payton Pritchard has been stellar early on, with 12 first-half points. Meanwhile Wisconsin All-American big man Ethan Happ has struggled to get anything going, finishing with just four points on only three shot attempts in the first half.
No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 11 Arizona State (TNT)
FINAL — BUFFALO 91, ARIZONA STATE 74: The Bulls are the real deal, and they used their first-round demolition of Arizona State to make that statement to the rest of the country that hadn’t seen them roll through the MAC. Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins had 21 points apiece and Buffalo controlled the tempo throughout, as ASU managed just 3-for-22 from three-point range (14 percent).
- Halftime: The Bulls are showing why they’re a 31-win team and dark-horse Final Four contender here early on against the Sun Devils, who dispatched St. John’s in the First Four earlier this week. Buffalo leads 44-31 at the break. Coach Bobby Hurley’s team is 0-for-9 from three-point range — a stat that will have to change in the second for an upset to be in reach.
BIG TEN: Conference 6-1 in the NCAAs
CHARLES BARKLEY: Supports Tom Izzo after coach lashed out at player
ROAD TO MINNEAPOLIS: 2019 NCAA tournament schedule and results
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Colgate
FINAL — TENNESSEE 77 COLGATE 70: Whew. That was a close one for Rick Barnes’ Final Four-contending team, as the Volunteers narrowly escaped a determined Colgate squad that was firing on all cylinders and was right there with minutes to go. Colgate’s Jordan Burns fueled his mid-major team’s fire with 32 points in the near-upset.
- 4:52 p.m.: The Volunteers have taken a decisive 73-64 lead with less than a minute to go in a game that was within reach moments ago. 40 seconds left.
- 4:45 p.m.: In the last TV timeout, Tennessee is clutching a 66-60 lead while trying to fend off a red-hot Colgate squad being fueled by Jordan Burns (22 points). 3:07 remaining.
- 3:49 p.m. (halftime): Tennessee is up 42-30 at the break but Colgate is sticking around behind Jordan Burns’ 12 first half points.
- 3:36 p.m.: In the last TV timeout of the first half, the Vols lead mid-major Colgate 31-20. 4 minutes remaining in the half.
- 3:26 p.m.: Tennessee has pulled ahead 26-18 but mid-major Colgate is staying within striking distance. 7:33 remaining.
- 3:07 p.m.: The Volunteers are doing their best to avoid an upset like last year’s shocker to Loyola-Chicago. That one happened in the second round, whereas Colgate’s bracket-busting hopes are here in the first. The Raiders might be the highest seed with the best chance of destroying brackets. Tennessee is up 13-8 at the first TV timeout. 15:05 remaining in the first half.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Gardner-Webb
FINAL SCORE — VIRGINIA 71, GARDNER-WEBB 56: The Cavaliers gave themselves a scare, and had the nation gasping for a repeat of history after trailing by six in the first half. But ultimately the second half showed why this Virginia team is a far cry from the one that got stunned by UMBC last year. Give Gardner-Webb credit for coming out aggressive and looking like the more punchy team early. The Bulldogs certainly didn’t look the part of a No. 16 seed. UVA’s De’Andre Hunter (23 points) is the ultimate X-Factor for this team, and Mamadi Diakite used his size to quickly put this game away in the second half.
- 4:55 p.m.: UVA is putting this one away and silencing the doubters who likely saw the halftime score and expected history to repeat itself. They’re using their size in the paint to pull away from No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb. De’Andre Hunter, who missed last year’s historic UMBC loss, is also a major difference-maker.
- 4:45 p.m.: Virginia has taken control of this second half, leading Gardner-Webb 55-41 now after trailing in the first half. Whatever coach Tony Bennett said at halftime, it’s working. This doesn’t look like it will be a repeat of last year’s catastrophe.
- 4 p.m.(halftime): Somehow, Virginia cut the deficit to 36-30 by the half. But nevertheless the Cavs once again are trailing a No. 16 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament after getting stunned by UMBC last year.
- 3:55 p.m.: Virginia trails 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb 36-27 in a disastrous first half. 2:22 remaining in the half.
- 3:48 p.m.: Virginia still trails 30-20 in a horrible start to this year’s NCAA tournament in which the Cavs were trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s massacre. 4:24 remaining in the first half.
- 3:37 p.m.: Coach Tony Bennett called a timeout to regroup, as his No. 1 seed team is trailing No. 16 seed Gardner Webb 26-14. 8:10 remaining.
- 3:30 p.m.: Déjà vu much? Virginia trails No. 16 seed Gardner Webb 17-10 at the second TV timeout. Wow. 11:10 remaining.
- 3:18 p.m.: Uh oh. The Cavaliers trail Gardner-Webb 6-4 at the first TV timeout. Normally, that wouldn’t be cause for any anxiety but considering Virginia lost to a No. 16 seed last year for the first time in the tournament’s history, well, it’s certainly noeworthy. 15:45 remaining in the first half.
No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 UC Irvine
FINAL — UC IRVINE 70, KANSAS STATE 64: K-State’s miscues (a Barry Brown turnover an ill-advised Xavier Sneed foul) robbed the Wildcats of a late comeback as UC Irvine stunned Kansas State to become the NCAA tournament’s first true Cinderella.
- 4 p.m.: At the last TV timeout of the game, Kansas State trails UC Irvine 63-59 in a potential bracket-busting upset. 3:36 remaining.
- 3:52 p.m.: A struggling Kansas State is doing its best to stay in this game, cutting a UC Irvine lead to 61-56 and calling a timeout to prepare for a gritty final stretch. 4:27 remaining.
- 3:40 p.m.: Kansas State is doing its best to fend off an upset here, but is trailing UC Irvine 53-51. 8:35 remaining.
- 3:25 p.m.: The Wildcats are trailing UC Irvine 40-39 at the first TV timeout in the second half as a Cinderella upset is brewing. 14:45 remaining.
- 3 p.m. (halftime): And we’ve got a game here, folks. Max Hazzard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer knotted the game at 30-30 right before halftime. Does the slipper fit for this Cinderella? Defensively they’re locked in, having held KSU to zero field goals in the final 6:18 of the half.
- 2:44 p.m.: A frustrated Kansas State coach Bruce Weber called a timeout as UC Irvine used a 12-1 run to get back in this thing and cut the deficit to 28-27. 3:07 remaining in the first half.
- 2:33 p.m.: The Anteaters called a timeout with KSU pulling ahead 26-16. In an NCAA tournament game like this, controlling the momentum and having good counter-punches will be important for this 30-win club. 7:12 remaining.
- 2:15 p.m.: The Wildcats called a timeout midway through the first half to regroup as UC Irvine has come out punching to make this a close one, 17-16 KSU edge. 11:27 remaining in the first half.
No. 7 Cincinnati vs. No. 10 Iowa
FINAL — IOWA 79, CINCINNATI 72: The Hawkeyes’ offense really came alive in the second half against one of the country’s toughest defenses, getting new life in this NCAA tournament after struggling in the latter part of the season before Friday’s clash with a Bearcats team that was heavily favored due to its seemingly homecourt edge playing in Columbus. Iowa’s inside-out game was the difference-maker, with big man Luka Garza (20 points, seven boards) and sharpshooter Joe Wieskamp (19 points on 4-for-6 three-point shooting). That win makes the Big Ten 6-0 in these NCAAs.
- 2:15 p.m.: Iowa leads 73-67 with a minute to go. Jordan Bohannon’s and-1 was followed by a Jarron Cumberland three-pointer. 1 minute remaining.
- 2:12 p.m.: Joe Wieskamp’s three-pointer gives Iowa its largest lead of the game in crunch time. The Hawkeyes are up 70-64 on Cincinnati. 1:39 remaining.
- 2:07 p.m.: The Hawkeyes lead 64-62 at the last TV timeout of the game. Cincinnati technically has homecourt advantage playing in Columbus and was expected to challenge Tennessee in the second round. Not if they can’t get past Iowa. 3:44 remaining.
- 2:02 p.m.: Iowa takes a decisive 62-59 lead off Nicholas Baer’s huge three-pointer. 5:45 remaining.
- 1:53 p.m.: Cincinnati is up 59-55 in a back-and-forth affair. The Bearcats haven’t had much of an answer for Iowa’s Luka Garza in the paint, but their offense (Justin Jenifer’s 17 points namely) has been keeping them on top. 7:30 remaining.
- 1:44 p.m.: Iowa takes its first lead of the game off a Conner McCaffery three-pointer. It’s 53-52 Iowa right after the second TV timeout of the second half. 11 minutes remaining.
- 1:32 p.m.: We’ve got a ball game here, folks. Cincinnati leads Iowa 44-40 at the first TV timeout of the second half. 14:30 remaining.
- 1 p.m. (halftime): Freshman Joe Wieskamp is keeping Iowa in this thing with his outside shooting (10 points), as it’s only a five-point game. The Hawkeyes started penetrating and their offense ignited because of it. But Cincinnati’s defense is still smothering (although coach Mick Cronin was not happy at halftime). Cincinnati leads 36-31 at the break.
- 12:53 p.m.: At the last TV timeout of the first half, Cincinnati leads Iowa 32-21, larely as a result of guard Justin Jenifer’s hot shooting (10 points). 3:52 remaining in half.
- 12:40 p.m.: Finally, Iowa is coming to life offensively as 6-11 big man Luka Garza connects on an and-1 and the Hawkeyes are starting to get into the paint to slice the deficit to 22-15. 8 minutes remaining.
- 12:30 p.m.: Iowa coach Fran McCaffery calls a timeout with his Hawkeyes falling behind 14-5, failing to find an offensive rhythm and struggling to stop the hot-shooting Bearcats on the other end. 12:47 left in the first half.
- 12:23 p.m.: Cincinnati has an early 8-5 lead at the first TV timeout. Isaiah Moss has all of Iowa’s points, whereas four different Bearcats have scored. 15:41 remaining in the first half.
- 12:15 p.m.: And we’re off. Day 2 is officially underway, with the American Athletic tournament champion Bearcats looking to ride their homecourt advantage playing in nearby Columbus. The Hawkeyes have lost five of six and are looking to get back on track. One key for Cincinnati will be managing Iowa’s size edge with forwards Tyler Cook and Luka Garza.
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Northern Kentucky
FINAL — TEXAS TECH 72, NORTHERN KENTUCKY 57: Jarrett Culver’s 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists helped keep this game out of reach and showed why the Red Raiders are Final Four contenders.
- 3:05 p.m.: Matt Mooney’s jumper gives Texas Tech a 53-38 edge here midway through the second half. The Norse find themselves in the danger zone. 11 minutes remaining.
- 2:25 p.m. (halftime): The Red Raiders lead 30-26 at the break in a game that shows Northern Kentucky is here for a game. Don’t expect the Norse to go out quietly in the second half.
- 2:11 p.m.: Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver is proving why he’s an All-American, with 12 first-half points to keep Northern Kentucky back. 2:35 remaining in the half.
- 1:50 p.m.: It’s tied up at 10-10 at the second TV timeout, as NKU looks to become this tournament’s first true Cinderella. 12 minutes remaining in first half.
- 1:40 p.m.: The Big 12 champion Red Raiders are leading Cinderella candidate Northern Kentucky 8-6 at the first TV timeout, but the Norse’s full-court pressure has been effective early on. 15:12 remaining in the first half.
No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Oklahoma
FINAL — OKLAHOMA 95, OLE MISS 72: This one wasn’t even close, as the Sooners came out as hot as any team in this tournament and didn’t take their foot off the gas. They only missed 10 shots in the first half and finished the game shooting 58 percent (34-for-59 from the floor). OU had four players score more than 18 points in this rout.
- 2:30 p.m.: This game’s as good as over as Oklahoma leads 93-64 at the lasst TV timeout. A pretty impressive showing for Lon Kruger’s team after finishing below .500 in the Big 12. 3:18 remaining.
- 2 p.m.: The game’s still out of reach here in the second half, as OU leads 66-48 and isn’t taking its foot off the gas pedal. 14:42 remaining.
- 1:30 p.m. (halftime): Oklahoma missed just 10 shots in the entire first half, and the blisteringly hot Sooners are way ahead 50-33 at halftime. But hey, it’s March Madness, so let’s not pencil this one in yet. Can Kermit Davis’ Rebels stage an epic comeback?
- 1:23 p.m.: As far as first-round NCAA tournament outings go, Oklahoma has hit the jackpot — putting this game out of reach early and scoring its most points in a half all season before it’s even over. Veteran Rashard Odomes has the hottest hand (he’s 6-for-7 from the field with 14 points). 1:39 remaining.
- 1:13 p.m.: Oklahoma has really come out firing on all cylinders, shooting 67 percent from the floor (16-for-24) and 4-for-6 from three-point range. The Sooners lead a disenchanted Ole Miss 41-24. 5:45 remaining in the half.
- 1:02 p.m.: The Sooners lead Ole Miss 29-18 at the second TV timeout, and now that the Rebels have gotten going they’re trying to turn it into a game. 10:33 remaining in the first half.
- 12:46 p.m.: Did the Rebels forget there was a game today? Seems like that’s the case as they trail Oklahoma 12-0 right out of the gate. 17 minutes remaining in the first half.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.