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March 17th, 2017

2017 NCAA Tournament Day 1: Villanova, Gonzaga Dominate As Northwestern Wins in Dramatic Tourney Debut

Justin Hodges @HodgepodgeHoops
2017 NCAA Tournament

Mo Alie-Cox #12 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams helps up his teammate Jonathan Williams #10 against the St. Mary’s Gaels during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Day one of the 2017 NCAA Tournament had a little bit of everything. Games came down to the wire, some underdogs came close to pulling their upsets and others ended up pulling it off. Many brackets were broken early, and so were the hearts of those who just played their final college basketball game. Lets break it down.

For the most part, the teams that were supposed to win their opening games did just that. Some were done in convincing fashion, others had to fight until the last second. Notre Dame fought off Ivy League Champion Princeton 60-58 in a game in which Princeton’s Devin Cannady missed a game-winning three with under 10 seconds left.

2017 NCAA Tournament

Reggie Upshaw #30 of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders attempts a shot while being guarded by Amir Coffey #5 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Virginia had to come back from down 15 points to defeat UNC Wilmington 76-71 behind London Perrantes’ 24 points, and West Virginia had to fight off a rallying Bucknell team 86-80. Florida State was able to take down a prime Cinderella candidate in Florida Gulf Coast 86-80 behind Dwayne Bacon’s 25 points, and Iowa State held off a late Nevada rally 84-73 behind Monte Morris’ 19-8-8 performance.

The first day also had two major upsets as well. For the second consecutive tournament, Middle Tennessee State up-ended a higher seeded Big 10 team. Last year the Blue Raiders as a 15 seed took down Michigan State in an absolute shocker, and now Middle Tennessee State has taken down 5 seeded Minnesota 81-72. After returning a majority of last year’s team, this is a team primed for perhaps another upset in the Round of 32.

Xavier, who struggled severely down the final stretch of the season, also took down 6 seeded Maryland 76-65 in what was possibly Melo Trimble’s final game. Trevon Bluiett led the way with 21 points, and it is a convincing win considering how much the Musketeers struggled since Edmond Sumner went down with an injury.

Other than those games, higher seeded teams came in and took care of business in day one. Both one seeds that took action, Villanova and Gonzaga, both beat their 16 seeded foes by 20 points. Butler handled 13 seed Winthrop 76-64 behind Avery Woodson’s 18 points. Devin Robinson scored 24 points to lead Florida past East Tennessee State 80-65. St Mary’s took down VCU 85-77, and a dominant second half from Vincent Edwards powered Purdue past Vermont 80-70. The final game of the night also had Arizona handling North Dakota in a game where all 5 Wildcat starters scored in double figures.

2017 NCAA Tournament

Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats talks with Eric Paschall #4 and Mikal Bridges #25 in the first half against the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Both 8-9 matchups of the day came down to the absolute wire. Early in the day Northwestern, in their first ever NCAA Tournament, won their first ever NCAA Tournament game against Vanderbilt 68-66. The game ended as controversial as it could have, as Vanderbilt seemed to purposely foul Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh with the game tied. Those two free throws would be the winning points of the game.

Late in the night, Wisconsin defeated an overachieving Virginia Tech team 84-74. Bronson Koenig was phenomenal once again for the Badgers with 28 points as the game was tight up until the closing minutes. As both 8 seeds win tonight, it should be encouraging for both Miami and Arkansas tomorrow.

All we can say now is that March Madness has officially begun.

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