The first round of the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament went down to the last minute.
No. 14 seed Abilene Christian upset No. 3 seed Texas, 53-52, for its first N.C.A.A. tournament win in school history. Joe Pleasant made two free throws to seal the win with one second left, after shooting just 58.8 percent from the free throw line this season.
Texas is the only No. 3 seed to go down in the first round this tournament and the second highest seed to lose after Ohio State, a 2.
Abilene Christian was led by Pleasant and Coryon Mason, who each had 11 points. The Wildcats will face No. 11 U.C.L.A. on Monday.
No. 14 seed Abilene Christian upset third-seeded Texas, 53-52.
Joe Pleasant hit two free throws at the end to win the game.
No. 11 U.C.L.A. downed No. 6 seed Brigham Young University, 73-62.
The Briuns are into the second round after defeating Michigan State in a play-in game on Thursday.
Gonzaga, the top seed in the tournament, downed Norfolk State, 98-55.
The Bulldogs shot 55.7 percent.
Well, you don’t have to feel bad about your bracket anymore. According to the N.C.A.A., there are no more perfect brackets. The last one was busted after Oklahoma beat Missouri.
Three years after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed in the N.C.A.A. tournament, the reigning champion Virginia Cavaliers are out again in the first round.
This time, they lost to Jason Preston and No. 13 Ohio, 62-58, at Assembly Hall in another stunner.
The Cavaliers (18-7) could not attempt a repeat last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, and almost had this season’s trip derailed after virus issues forced the team to withdraw from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last week. Virginia only arrived in Indiana on Friday, one day before its matchup with the Bobcats (17-7), who won the Mid-American Conference tournament. Still, Virginia passed the necessary tests and were cleared to play.
Ohio was a popular upset pick because of Virginia’s nine-day pause and because of Preston, whom ESPN’s Jay Bilas compared with Charlotte Hornets scorer LaMelo Ball. Preston finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Ben Vander Plas had 17 points and five rebounds, and Ben Roderick scored 16 points.
“Oh man, it’s awesome, it’s awesome,” Preston said in a television interview. “Huge credit to the bench, their energy was amazing. Our teammates followed the game plan and executed, especially on the defensive end.”
Said Coach Jeff Boals, who led his alma mater to the N.C.A.A. tournament in his second season as coach: “I could not be prouder of this group, what they’ve been through the last month and a half, with the Covid pauses, we stayed together.” Ohio had seven games canceled or postponed in February and March.
Virginia’s Trey Murphy III hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 60-58, but with 4.2 seconds left Ohio sophomore Lunden McDay hit two free throws to push the lead to 62-58.
Ohio advances to meet No. 5 Creighton of the Big East, which edged U.C. Santa Barbara earlier Saturday, 63-62.
“Phenomenal team, phenomenal coach, couple of really good players and we’re just happy to be moving on,” Boals said.
The tournament has now lost a No. 2 seed in Ohio State, two No. 4 seeds in Virginia and Purdue and a No. 5 in Tennessee.
No. 8 seed Oklahoma beat No. 9 seed Missouri, 72-68.
The game was close late, but Jalen Hill iced it with free throws for the Sooners.
After Oklahoma’s 72-68 win against Missouri, the Big 12 is now 6-0 in the tournament.
No. 10 seed Maryland beat No. 7 seed UConn, 63-54.
Maryland advances to face Alabama on Monday.
No. 13 seed Ohio knocked of No. 4 Virginia, the 2019 champion, 62-58.
Virginia had been dealing with coronavirus issues ahead of the N.C.A.A. tournament.
Three years after losing to No. 16 seed U.M.B.C. as a No. 1, the 2019 champion Virginia Cavaliers are out again in the first round, losing to Jason Preston and No. 13 Ohio. The tourney has now lost a No. 2 seed (Ohio State), two No. 4 seeds (Virginia and Purdue) and a No. 5 (Tennessee).
16th-seeded Norfolk State won a play-in game on Thursday. Now it must contend with Gonzaga, the tournament’s top seed.
“Yeah, I know we’re playing the Lakers of college basketball, the Brooklyn Nets of college basketball,” Coach Robert Jones said this week of Gonzaga. “They got three all-Americans, one first-team, two third-team. We know it’s going to be a challenge. It’s no secret that it’s going to be a challenge. But at the same time we have to lace them up and we have to play the basketball game.”
So they are looking to history.
“We’ve been in situations before as a program, with Missouri and Alabama in the N.I.T. and things like that,” the coach said. “And no one gave us a shot, and we were able to come out on top. It’s a whole different animal in Gonzaga, and we understand that, trust me. We understand that. At the same time, as a program we have the two largest victories by point spread in both the N.I.T. and N.C.A.A. So why not do it again.”
With most of the spotlight on Gonzaga, expect the Spartans to try to infuse Bankers Life Fieldhouse with their own passion.
“Let’s face it: 500 people, honestly, that’s probably the most people we played in front of all year,” Jones said Thursday night. “We’ve had to bring our own energy all year. We talk about it all the time — manufacture energy, manufacture energy. BYOE, Bring Your Own Energy.”
But Norfolk State’s presence in Indianapolis might seem jarring to Football Championship Subdivision fans: The university’s team is sitting out spring football because of the coronavirus pandemic. Basketball, though, is happening for at least a few more hours.
In an interview last month, Melody Webb, the university’s athletic director, acknowledged that she had harbored particular reservations about basketball and football because of the frequency and level of contact between players. Ultimately, the sizes of the teams prompted her to support a basketball season, as well as other spring sports.
“The biggest difference is the numbers,” she said. “Controlling 15 to 20 kids to 100 looks different.”
The coronavirus had gained a foothold inside Virginia Commonwealth’s men’s basketball team, and Coach Mike Rhoades roamed the 16th floor of the JW Marriott in Indianapolis.
“We’re like a wounded animal,” he would say as his team awaited its shot in the N.C.A.A. tournament. “You don’t want to go against a wounded animal.”
But on Saturday night, not long after a pregame meal and just about three hours before the 10th-seeded Rams were to play No. 7 Oregon, it fell to to Rhoades to announce an agonizing reality: There had been too many positive tests too quickly. The Rams had to leave the tournament. The season was suddenly finished.
“It was devastating,” Rhoades recalled on Saturday night. “It was heartbreaking, no dry eyes. This is what you dream of as a college player and a coach, and to get it taken away like this is just a heartbreaking moment in their young lives.”
The Rams, who played in last week’s Atlantic-10 Conference championship game and earned an at-large bid to the national tournament, ended the season at 19-7.
Ed McLaughlin, the university’s athletic director, said Saturday night the Rams had enough healthy players — at least five, the N.C.A.A. minimum — to play Oregon, but that local health officials had been alarmed by the run of multiple positive tests over 48 hours. University officials did not publicly question the decision, and McLaughlin said that it was not clear how the virus had found its way into the V.C.U. program.
The Rams, university officials noted, had undergone daily testing for the last three weeks.
“We did the right things,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t know if it’s bad luck or what it is. But it’s just terrible more than anything else.”
If you picked Oregon to win its first-round game in one of the popular online tournaments, you may or may not get points depending on which one you entered.
The N.C.A.A.’s view, for official record-keeping purposes, is that the game was a no-contest — that No. 7 seed Oregon advances without earning a win, and No. 10 seed Virginia Commonwealth is disqualified without taking a loss or considering the game a forfeit.
In the world of March Madness pools, however, the implications of the missed game are much more unclear.
The N.C.A.A.’s Bracket Challenge does not state what happens if a team has to drop out because of virus-related protocols. It does state that the sponsors are not responsible for any sort of cancellations in the tournament and that the prizes could be impacted.
According to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge official rules, “In the event a Tournament basketball game does not occur as scheduled (e.g., due to cancellation) no points will be awarded for that game.”
That means that 10 points will be removed from everyone’s total available points, but you will not lose any if you picked V.C.U.
CBS Sports Bracket Challenge rules are a little less clear, stating, “In the event that a scheduled game is canceled or pre-empted for any reason, no points will be awarded for the affected NCAA teams. If a team is forced to forfeit a matchup resulting in another team advancing, points may still be rewarded to for the winning team.” That makes it unclear whether CBS’s tournament players will get points.
Yahoo’s Fantasy Tournament rules do not specifically state what happens to individual games, but it does say that sponsors of the $50,000 sweepstakes reserve the right to “award one or more of the promoted prizes at the time the 2021 Tournament is affected, or to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Contest without awarding some or all of the promoted prizes.”
Sports Illustrated’s bracket challenge is the only one that clearly says it will still give points if you still picked correctly. “If a team that was selected is forced out of the tournament due to COVID protocols after the bracket entry deadline, the selection will stand and be considered a loss,” its rules said.
Second-seeded Iowa beat No. 15 seed Grand Canyon, 86-74.
The Hawkeyes move on to play Oregon, which advanced when Virginia Commonwealth could not play because of the virus.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s coach said his team had “multiple positive tests” over the last 48 hours, forcing its withdrawal from the tournament.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the N.C.A.A.’s Division I men’s basketball tournament for the first time on Saturday, when a planned game between seventh-seeded Oregon and Virginia Commonwealth, a No. 10 seed, was declared a no-contest because of virus-related issues.
V.C.U. said in a statement on Saturday night that it had received “multiple positive tests” over the last 48 hours.
“We are devastated for our players and coaches,” Mike Rhoades, V.C.U.’s coach, said in the statement, which noted that the team had been undergoing daily testing for the last three weeks.
In its own statement on Saturday, the N.C.A.A.’s men’s basketball committee said it regretted that the players and coaches of V.C.U. “will not be able to play in a tournament in which they earned the right to participate.”
Under the tournament’s rules, Oregon will automatically advance in the tournament and will play the winner of Saturday evening’s game between No. 2 Iowa and Grand Canyon, a No. 15 seed.
The virus has loomed over the tournament, which is being played entirely in Indiana because of the pandemic, as a threat to end championship quests before they even began in earnest. Last week, the Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences saw teams — Duke, Kansas and Virginia — withdraw from their tournaments because of the virus.
N.C.A.A. officials have imposed significant restrictions on players, coaches and officials in an effort to keep the virus from intruding on the men’s tournament, a juggernaut of college sports that accounts for most of the association’s annual revenues. Attendance has been restricted, teams have largely been confined to their hotels in Indianapolis and many people associated with the tournament have faced daily testing for the virus.
In addition, members of team travel parties were required to test negative for the virus for seven consecutive days before traveling to Indiana.
But in an interview on Monday, Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, acknowledged that cases could surface during the tournament, which is scheduled to conclude on April 5.
“The first goal is no serious medical issues,” Emmert said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t have teams have to pull out or somebody test positive — we’re not naïve about that — but no serious medical issues throughout.”
Seventh-seeded Oregon will advance to the second round after Saturday night’s game against No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth was declared a no-contest because of virus issues with V.C.U.
No. 6 seed Southen California beat No. 11 seed Drake, 72-56.
The Mobley brothers combined for 32 points.
With the loss by Rick Pitino and Iona, active Naismith Hall of Fame coaches are now 2-3 in this tournament. Bill Self of Kansas and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse earned first-round wins, while Pitino, Roy Williams of North Carolina and Tom Izzo of Michigan State all lost.
When Rick Pitino and No. 15 seed Iona led No. 2 seed Alabama midway through the second half on Saturday, it looked like the Gaels might have the goods to pull off the tournament’s second huge upset.
On Friday, No. 15 Oral Roberts became just the ninth No. 15 seed ever to topple a 2 when it took down Ohio State. And way back in 1987, Pitino had coached Billy Donovan and Providence to an upset of a second-seeded Alabama team in the regional semifinals.
But another epic takedown wasn’t to be. Alabama’s Herbert Jones went for 20 points, six rebounds and two assists as the Southeastern Conference tournament and regular-season champions held off Iona, 68-55, at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Crimson Tide meet the winner between No. 7 UConn and No. 10 Maryland in the East region.
Iona has now lost 14 straight N.C.A.A. tournament games, including one win that was vacated.
Iona led 42-40, but the Gaels went cold on offense and Alabama rattled off a 20-6 run to go ahead 60-48.
Iona got to within 62-55, but Alabama guard Jahvon Quinerly (11 points) hit a clutch jumper to push the lead. Alabama’s bench outscored the Iona bench, 23-8.
Isaiah Ross, the leading scorer in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, led Iona with 19 points, while senior guard Asante Gist had 16. Gist also played on the Iona team that lost in the first round in 2019 and had hoped for an upset this time around.
Pitino, 68, this year became just the third coach to lead five programs to the tournament. After taking over in March following his firing from Louisville in 2017, he and his staff had to rebuild the roster and recruited eight new players, including several international players led by the freshman Nelly Junior Joseph of Nigeria, who finished with 6 points and six rebounds.
Despite four coronavirus pauses this season, including one that lasted 51 days, the longest in the nation, Pitino got the most out of his team in his first year at the helm.
No. 2 seed Alabama defeated No. 15 seed Iona, 68-55.
Iona kept it close for the bulk of the game before the Crimson Tide pulled away.
As our colleague Jonathan Ellis points out, 49 percent of our readers correctly predicted that there would be one No. 12 seed to beat a No. 5. Alan Blinder correctly predicted it would be Oregon State over Tennessee.
When Bill Self was asked about the atmosphere in this N.C.A.A. tournament, he looked at the attendance sheet: 961. “It was the coldest arena I think I’ve ever been in at the start of the game. … It was literally, 58-60 degrees at the start of the game.”
No. 5-seeded Creighton held on against No. 12 seed U.C. Santa Barbara, 63-62. The Bluejays were favored in this one, but it came down to the last few minutes as the Gauchos kept it close.
After coming back from down 8 in the first half, Creighton led at halftime, 34-30.
The second half is where things got really wild. Creighton took a 10-point lead with about 13 minutes left in the game, but U.C. Santa Barbara came fighting back, led by guard Jaquori McLaughlin, who finished with 13 points and seven assists.
The game came down to the last minute when Christian Bishop made two free throws for the Jayhawks with 16 seconds left, sealing the win. He finished with 15 points and Marcus Zegarowski led Creighton with 17 points and eight assists.
Creighton Coach Greg McDermott, who has been with the team 11 years, was suspended the last game of the regular season for a racially insensitive comment to his players, but he was allowed to return for the Big East tournament and coached on Saturday. This was the Bluejays’ first N.C.A.A. men’s tournament win since 2014.
Creighton will fact the winner of Virginia-Ohio on Monday.
Following a dramatic 53-52 win over Wichita State in Thursday’s play-in game, Drake has tougher task with Southern California and is down at halftime, 40-37.
The good news is, the Bulldogs are 20-1 when ShanQuan Hemphill is in the lineup, and he has been able to come off the bench in this tournament in his return from a foot injury he suffered in February.
In the first half against U.S.C., Hemphill had 6 points in 16 minutes. On Thursday, he finished with 3 points, a steal, and four rebounds.
He led the team with 14.1 points per game when he went down. The Bulldogs are certainly hopeful for a larger role today, especially in the second half.
No. 5 seed Creighton squeaks past 12th-seeded U.C. Santa Barbara, 63-62.
The Gauchos missed a late layup that could have been a game-winner.
Top-seeded Michigan easily beat No. 16 seed Texas Southern, 82-66.
Michigan gets Louisiana State in the next round.
The N.C.A.A. has debuted a new weight room for its women’s basketball tournament in an attempt to move past a firestorm of condemnation for disparities between that competition in Texas and the men’s tournament in Indiana.
In a tweet on Saturday, the N.C.A.A. promoted the upgraded training options for the women’s tournament, which officials said they had long planned to have available ahead of the round of 16. This week’s critical onslaught led the association to apologize and to speed up its timeline.
Sedona Prince, an Oregon forward whose video of the original, far more limited amenities, helped bring wide attention to the situation in Texas, welcomed the change.
“Guess what, guys? We got a weight room!” Prince said in a video posted on social media on Saturday. “We got a ton more dumbbells. Look at all these racks for squats and whatever we want to do.”
And she thanked N.C.A.A. officials for responding to the complaints ahead of the tournament, which will begin on Sunday.
“We appreciate y’all,” she said. “Thank you so much for real.”
Although the frustrations surrounding training facilities may be ebbing, the N.C.A.A. also faced criticism for its decision to use rapid antigen tests at the women’s tournament, not the polymerase chain reaction tests that are in use at the men’s tournament and are considered the gold standard of infectious disease diagnostics.
On Friday, Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, said the association had “complete confidence in all the medical protocols that have been put together.”
The N.C.A.A. just announced on Twitter that between Bracket Challenge, ESPN, CBS, Yahoo and Sports Illustrated, there are only 23 perfect brackets remaining 20 games into the men’s tournament.
Isaiah Livers, the injured Michigan senior who emerged as one of the leaders of this week’s online protests against the N.C.A.A., wore a shirt at Saturday’s game that used the #NotNCAAProperty slogan.
The backyard one-on-one basketball games between the brothers Isaiah and Evan Mobley came to a screeching halt early in their high school days.
Throughout much of their childhoods, Isaiah, older by around 20 months, stood as the more imposing of the two. But in high school, Evan had caught up to him, at least in height.
Now, Evan did not want to just beat his brother once or twice on luck and hope. “Winning was cool,” he said, “But I wanted to win how I wanted to win. I wanted to win in a way that was solidified and not a close game.”
Sometimes, their father, Eric Mobley, demanded the ball and told them to go inside before the games got too physical. “Evan would be hot, just mad at the world,” Eric said. “And Isaiah was bigger, stronger, so I didn’t want them to get into fights or anything like that. Then, sometimes I’d let them get in there and mix it up a little bit, because they got to settle it.”
They never did really settle it. “It gets too nasty,” Isaiah, 21, said. But instead of battling each other, the brothers are teammates at the University of Southern California, where Eric is still coaching them, as an assistant. The team is a throwback, with the brothers anchoring a rugged defense and providing solid interior play.
A late slip caused U.S.C. to miss out on its first regular-season conference championship since 1984-85, but the Trojans closed play in the Pac-12 Conference with a dramatic comeback win over its crosstown rival U.C.L.A.
Quietly, the Trojans are stitching a sustained run of success as they open the N.C.A.A. tournament Saturday against Drake.
Iona’s Rick Pitino is just the third coach to lead five programs to the N.C.A.A. tournament (Lon Kruger, Tubby Smith). He’s also one of five active Naismith Hall of Fame coaches who made the event this year (Self, Izzo, Williams, Boeheim).
Rick Pitino — Rick Pitino! — is back in the N.C.A.A. tournament.
You might remember him. He has appeared in the Final Four seven times. He won national titles at Kentucky and Louisville, even though the latter’s win was ultimately vacated. He had a mediocre run in the N.B.A., where he coached Patrick Ewing, who steered Georgetown into this tournament.
And Pitino, having gone into a basketball exile in Greece after a scandal at Louisville, is suddenly in the whirlwind, too. His 15th-seeded Iona Gaels beat Fairfield, 60-51, a week ago to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament and earn a chance to keep playing for a national championship.
Seed notwithstanding, history suggests the Gaels, who have a formidable defense, could cause some headaches: In the 21 seasons that Pitino-coached teams have reached the N.C.A.A. tournament, they have advanced past the first round in all but four years.
Iona’s target today: No. 2 Alabama, which is trying to prove that football schools can be pretty good at basketball, too.
Earning its highest seed in the N.C.A.A. tournament since 2002, the Crimson Tide stormed through the regular season and the Southeastern Conference tournament under Coach Nate Oats, who is in his second year at Alabama. Herb Jones, the SEC’s player of the year, was the league’s most feared defender this season and topped the team in rebounds, steals and blocks.
Look for Alabama to try a lot of 3-point shots: It has attempted more than 800 this season, second-most in the country, with John Petty Jr., a senior guard from Huntsville, Ala., leading the team.
No. 8 seed Louisiana State pushed past No. 9 seed St. Bonaventure, 76-61.
Cameron Thomas had 27 points for L.S.U.
No. 3-seeded Kansas played its first game in nine days since the team dealt with positive coronavirus tests. It was a rocky one, but the Jayhawks’ second half effort was enough to get them to the second round.
Kansas beat No. 14-seed Eastern Washington, 93-84. This was the Jayhawks’ 14th straight win in the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament under head coach Bill Self.
The Jayhawks had a rough start and the Eagles took advantage. It was Tanner and Jacob Grove’s game in the first half, leading the way for the Eagles. The brothers combined for 58 points and 14 rebounds on 65.5 percent shooting.
The Jayhawks looked tired in the first half, resting in folding chairs on the sidelines, as if the Eagles had sucked the energy out of them. The Eagles, meanwhile, were doing jumping jacks between plays. Eastern Washington led Kansas 46-38 at halftime.
The Jayhawks opened the second half with more aggression, going on a run to take a 12-point lead with just under five minutes to play. Eastern Washington had a hard time recovering as David McCormack took hold inside, scoring 20 of his 22 points in the second half. The Jayhawks finished with five players scoring 12 or more.
Kansas will play the winner of Southern California-Drake on Monday.
No. 3 seed Kansas got past No. 14 seed Eastern Washington, 93-84.
The Jayhawks will play the winner between Southern California and Drake.
Creighton is 3-3 in its last six games, despite being favored in five of them. Its opponent on Saturday, though, 12th-seeded U.C. Santa Barbara, played just three nonconference games all season while being favored in every single Big West game it played.
The Gauchos have won 18 of their last 19 games, going in a different direction entirety than the lukewarm Blue Jays over the past few weeks.
It’s a recipe for an upset pick that becomes so popular, it barely registers as an upset (Creighton is favored in this game by 7½ points).
One of those recent three losses for Creighton was a crushing 25-point defeat to Georgetown in the Big East title game.
In that title game they went 9 for 34 on 3-pointers. When they’re cold, they’re cold, and U.C.S.B. has the 15th-lowest opponent 3-point rate in the country.
North Carolina-Greensboro, a No. 13 seed, never led fourth-seeded Florida State on Saturday. Most of its scoring came from just two players. It made less than one-third of its shots.
But do not be mistaken for believing Florida State was wire-to-wire dominant; it merely survived, 64-54.
Although Florida State led by 16 with about seven minutes to play in the first half, its advantage eroded by late in the game, when, with less than five minutes to go, the Seminoles’ lead was down to one.
F.S.U. used the last five minutes to score 13, including a 6-point run. In the same stretch, North Carolina-Greensboro managed just 4.
Next up for F.S.U., which RaiQuan Gray led on Saturday with 17 points: fifth-seeded Colorado, which overwhelmed No. 12 Georgetown.