Overtime games and bracket upsets hit the first round of the men’s tournament on Friday.
Dawn Staley, South Carolina’s respected coach, sharply criticizes N.C.A.A. leaders.
Upset by North Texas knocks Purdue, the sole Indiana team, out of Indianapolis.
Oklahoma State beats a scare from Liberty.
The N.C.A.A.’s president said its problems with the women’s tournament were “deeply disappointing.”
What is March Madness without the bands?
Oregon State ousted Tennessee in another first-round upset.
No. 15 seed Oral Roberts upset No. 2 seed Ohio State in overtime.
Florida’s overtime win got the drama started early.
By Alan Blinder
Dawn Staley, one of the most admired coaches in women’s basketball, excoriated the N.C.A.A. on Friday for its approach to her sport and its national tournament — a 64-team event that the governing body of college sports acknowledged Friday had received inadequate resources compared with those available in the men’s competition.
“I cannot be quiet,” Staley, South Carolina’s coach, said at the start of a lengthy statement posted on her Twitter account.
“What we now know is the N.C.A.A.’s season-long messaging about ‘togetherness’ and ‘equality’ was about convenience and a sound bite for the moment created after the murder of George Floyd,” she wrote later, referencing the Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis last spring. Directing her sharpest criticism at Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, Staley said that he and other association executives could not be allowed to “use us and our student-athletes at their convenience.”
“Every team here in San Antonio has earned and deserves at a minimum the same level of respect as the men,” said Staley, whose team is a No. 1 seed. “All the teams here dealt with the same issues as the men’s teams this season; yet their ‘reward’ is different.”
Emmert and other N.C.A.A. executives on Friday acknowledged disparities — most prominently involving coronavirus testing and workout facilities — and, in some instances, apologized for them. But Staley said Friday evening that it was “time for the N.C.A.A. leadership to re-evaluate the value they place on women.”
By Gillian R. Brassil
Another upset in the first round as No. 13 North Texas advances and No. 4 Purdue heads a short way home to West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue tried to resurge with some strong rebounding in the second half, and got the game into overtime on a layup from Trevion Williams. who ended the game with 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
But once the Boilermakers got there, the Mean Green surged ahead and a missed 3-pointer by Jaden Ivey, who had 23 points, sealed Purdue’s fate. North Texas won, 78-69.
Mardrez McBride of North Texas finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, finding open space where there did not seem to be any. But it was James Reese and Javion Hamlet who closed the game with a string of free throws to keep the North Texas lead in overtime.
Safe to say, judging by the strength of the boos rattling the north side of Lucas Oil Stadium, where the teams faced off, that many viewers — at least in person — were not happy.
There is no longer a team from Indiana in the 2021 men’s tournament.
It’s been a huge day for Baylor’s Scott Drew and his coaching tree. Drew’s top-seeded team won, but so did North Texas, which upset Purdue, and Oral Roberts, which downed Ohio State. Coaches Grant McCasland of North Texas and Paul Mills of Oral Roberts both worked for Drew in Waco.
No. 13 seeds were 29-111 (.207) against No. 4 seeds coming into the tournament. North Texas is looking to add to that total.
Purdue gets another chance. Trevion Williams tied up the score with 22 seconds left against North Texas, sending the game that was getting away from the No. 4 seed into overtime.
By Adam Zagoria
Oklahoma State survived an uneven performance from Cade Cunningham and a gritty performance from Liberty to advance to the second round.
The 6-foot-8 Cunningham, who is projected by some experts to be selected with the No. 1 pick in the N.B.A. draft, shot just 3 for 14 for 15 points with five rebounds and one assist as No. 4 seed Oklahoma State held off No. 13 seed Liberty, 69-60. Cunningham, who had just 1 point in the first half, scored 9 straight points to help close the game for the Cowboys, who won their first N.C.A.A. tournament game since 2009. They will next face No. 12 seed Oregon State, which knocked off Tennessee, 70-56.
Cunningham is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy as the nation’s top college player and is hoping to lead his team on a deep run in his lone season in college, much like Carmelo Anthony did in 2003 when he carried Syracuse to a national championship.
“Melo is big shoes to fill but I’m up for the challenge for sure,” Cunningham said this week.
In early June, the N.C.A.A. punished Oklahoma State for its role in a bribery scandal that ensnared several coaches, including a former assistant for the Cowboys. The punishment included a postseason ban for 2021.
But Oklahoma State was able to play in this tournament because the N.C.A.A. appeals process is still playing out.
The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for Liberty (23-6), the champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Avery Anderson led the Cowboys with 19 points, eight rebounds and four steals and Isaac Likekele had 11 points and six rebounds. Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe went for 10 points and nine rebounds.
Elijah Cuffee led Liberty with 16 points and four assists.
These traditional powers are either out of — or were never in — the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament: North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State, Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, Indiana, Arizona.
With North Carolina’s loss to Wisconsin, Roy Williams lost a first-round game in the N.C.A.A. tournament for the first time as a head coach. Even after tonight’s defeat, his first-round record is still extraordinary: 29-1.
By Billy Witz
N.C.A.A. President Mark Emmert was eager for attention to turn back toward the action on the court Friday as the men’s tournament tipped off in Indianapolis after several days of missteps by his organization, beginning with six referees being sent home for violating virus protocols and continuing on with protests by players over the marketing rights to their names and equal treatment of women.
Emmert, in an interview with three reporters at Hinkle Fieldhouse, said it was “inexcusable” that the women’s training rooms cobbled together at a San Antonio hotel consisted of a handful of hand weights, but he pushed back against charges of inequality between the women and men.
Critics cited two other examples on Friday: the women were given antigen coronavirus tests, which are less reliable than the polymerase chain reaction tests used for the men; and the quality of gifts the players received and their inability to have food delivered to the hotels were they are encamped.
“We haven’t had this kind of issue before because the tournaments are run in quite different ways,” Emmert said, referring to how the first two rounds of the women’s tournament are normally held at 16 campus facilities.
Emmert parried several questions about the inequities over facilities, gifts and testing, saying he did not have enough information, but maintained that he had “complete confidence” in the tests the women were receiving.
As for these issues clouding the start of the first major event the N.C.A.A. has put on since the pandemic — it does not administer the College Football Playoff — Emmert said: “It’s deeply disappointing, first and foremost because we want the student athletes to have a great experience. Anything that detracts from a bad experience from the students is really disturbing.”
Eighth-seeded North Carolina bounced back after a miserable 2019-20 season. But its first-round date with No. 9 Wisconsin is leaving plenty to be desired: The Tar Heels are trailing by 18 with just more than eight minutes to play.
By Alan Blinder
We’re not even through half of the first round, but the field has already seen a pair of sizable upsets. Here’s how the coaches broke down what happened in their games.
No. 15 Oral Roberts 75, No. 2 Ohio state 72 (OT)
Coach Paul Mills of Oral Roberts
On how turnovers mattered: “We’re top 25 in the country at not turning it over, and Ohio State is 336th in the country at causing turnovers. So we knew that we were coming into a game where there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of pressure. We do a good job taking care of the ball. That’s not their strength. They do a number of things really, really well, obviously, but their strength isn’t that they’re going to pressure you.”
On facing a juggernaut: “Who walks into a game and says the other person can’t be beaten? I mean, I don’t think anybody does. As I shared with the guys, don’t let anybody put a number in front of your name. And it’s hard, right? Because when they’re high school players, they want a number in front of their name. They’re ranked this, or they’re ranked that, because that ranking is going to bring something for them, whether it be attention or a scholarship offer.”
Coach Chris Holtmann of Ohio State
On how the Buckeyes faltered: “I thought our preparation was really good. I thought that we just had too many missed opportunities, too many turnovers, too many empty possessions on offense. Did not think we had a great start. That’s my fault.”
No. 12 Oregon State 70, No. 5 Tennessee 56
Coach Wayne Tinkle of Oregon State
On the day’s defensive focus: “We have this drill we put in a little while back, and it’s called the change drill. It’s where we’ve got pressure on the ball. Everybody else is loaded into their gaps, man or zone. We talked about in the scouting report taking away the elbows and the blocks by having a presence there off the ball so that they couldn’t get their drives to the rim. They’re so athletic.
“Then we had to get to their shooters with high hands in man and zone. We lost them a couple times, but you look at the defensive numbers, I’d say, other than a couple of touch-down turnovers, the guys really responded to the defensive focus.”
On Oregon State’s team assists: “Our scouting report was they really dig hard in their help if you can get by the first wave. So we really worked hard on moving back behind any penetration, kicking the ball, sharing it. The “one more” phrase, we’ve been yelling that a lot in practice the last couple of months, and the guys have bought into it. I mean, we have really come together as a team, and you saw it on display.
“I think we were top 20 in the country most of the year, I think still, in our assist to field goal percentage. It’s just a credit of executing our offense. I thought we did a great job on that out of time-outs, especially the first 30, 34 minutes. We got the looks we were expecting to get early in the game to set the tone, and then the guys just kept making plays for each other.”
Coach Rick Barnes of Tennessee
On how Tennessee lost: “They played a good basketball game. Just sorry that we didn’t give them more competition really. I just told our team it was disappointing in the way that we started out. They had an inside game, and we didn’t get a chance — we didn’t do what we have to do to stop that, and we had no inside game. We couldn’t.
“They were certainly packed back in there daring us to make threes or take shots, and we had some looks, but it didn’t go down. Didn’t get much on the offensive board the way we needed to, but overall, give them credit for it. Disappointed that I didn’t think we played our best basketball. It’s hard to play this game when the ball’s not going in and when you don’t have an inside presence.”
Purdue cannot seem to contain the Mean Green, who have been able to take some wide open shots to extend their lead over the Boilermakers. The sole Indiana team in Indianapolis for the tournament, No. 4 seed Purdue has missed some easy shots and is 7 for 23 from the floor. North Texas leads 32-24 going into the second half.
Cade Cunningham, the projected No. 1 pick in the N.B.A. draft, is struggling at 2-for-8 shooting for 6 points with three rebounds and one assist as No. 4 Oklahoma State is in a battle with No. 13 Liberty, up 53-47. He just went to the bench for a breather.
By Sarah Bahr
In a normal year, when a player sinks a buzzer-beating shot in a N.C.A.A. tournament game, tens of thousands of fans erupt in celebration.
This year will prove to be a bit quieter, even if the venue is larger.
The men’s Final Four tournament will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium, a 70,000-seat arena home to the N.F.L.’s Indianapolis Colts. The crowd will be capped at 25 percent of capacity, with fans masked and seated in socially distanced pods of two, four or six. And the area reserved for each 29-member band will be empty.
“I understand the N.C.A.A’s decision,” Jake Tedeschi, 22, a senior tenor saxophone player in the No. 1 seed University of Illinois’s basketball pep band, said. “But man, I wish I could be there. I’m hoping they’ll reconsider for the Final Four.”
But now, that dream is dashed, too.
After previously excluding bands only through the Elite Eight, an N.C.A.A. spokesman said in an email on Friday that no bands would be allowed at any of the games in either the men’s or women’s basketball tournaments this year.
The decision, he said, was based on health and safety protocols developed with local health authorities, which “led to reductions in the size of official travel parties and limits on overall capacity in venues.”
The six Indiana venues that will host this year’s games, he said, will still play school fight songs and anthems. They will screen cheer video performances, and other band music will be in rotation.
But the honking tubas and energy-building improvisation of pep bands are what attracts many fans to the college game — they are the antithesis of the N.B.A.’s reliance on canned noise to punctuate big blocks and thunderous dunks. And bands have an even more crucial role in the N.C.A.A. tournament, Barry L. Houser, the director of the University of Illinois’s marching and athletic bands for the past 10 years, said.
“There’s nothing like live music to bring a stadium or arena alive,” he said. “The playing of a fight song after a great play or going into a hot timeout after an amazing play for the team can really get the crowd riled up.”
By Adam Zagoria
The first day of the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament on Thursday proved a historic one for historically Black colleges and universities.
Texas Southern and Norfolk State both earned victories, marking the first time two H.B.C.U.s won games in the same men’s tournament.
Texas Southern, out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Mount Saint Mary’s, 60-52, at Assembly Hall in the first of four play-in games between teams vying to reach the round of 64.
Texas Southern will next face top-seeded Michigan on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern at Mackey Arena.
“This game coming up with Michigan on Saturday obviously wasn’t on our schedule, but we’re glad that we’ve put ourselves in a situation and got an opportunity in the N.C.A.A. tournament to play one of the top teams in the country, so it’s not anything that our guys are not used to,” Coach Johnny Jones said. “It’s a challenge that they certainly accept.”
In a battle of No. 16 seeds, Norfolk State, out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, held off Appalachian State, 54-53 after Devante Carter made free throws with 8.6 seconds left at Assembly Hall.
The Spartans’ reward? A date with No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga on Saturday at 9:20 p.m. Eastern at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The wins by the pair of H.B.C.U.s came after the N.B.A. and the players union last month pledged $2.5 million in support of H.B.C.U.s and communities of color as part of its All-Star Game activities.
By Alan Blinder
It’s only March 19, but Tennessee has already hit (at least) a trifecta of athletic misfortune this year: It has fired its football coach, seen its athletic director exit and, as of Friday, fallen in a first-round upset in the N.C.A.A. tournament.
Oregon State, the Pac-12 tournament champion with a No. 12 seed in this tournament’s Midwest region, ousted the fifth-seeded Volunteers, 70-56, with relative ease at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It was the first time Oregon State, which had been picked to finish last in its conference in the preseason, had advanced past the first round since the Reagan administration.
But Rick Barnes, Tennessee’s coach, had foreseen possible trouble.
“Oregon State finished as strong as any team in the country,” he said this week. “They won their conference, beat Oregon, U.C.L.A., and Colorado in that order, which shows how well they are playing. A team that’s been coached well, they’ve gotten better, and playing their best basketball right now. Most teams that are playing right now are capable of playing their best basketball, and I like to think that we’re on the verge of doing that as well.”
Tennessee, for instance, managed to make just one-third of its shots from the field and never held a lead. The preseason favorite to win the Southeastern Conference, it had the game tied just once.