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Best of the NCAA tournament, Day 1: Agony, elation and four overtime games

The Dagger

(Dish)

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1. On a day that featured three victories by double-digit seeds, the biggest story may have been the upset that didn't happen. When NC State built a 14-point lead with five minutes to play against fifth-seeded Saint Louis, the 12th-seeded Wolfpack appeared certain to go from the last at-large team in the field to the round of 32. Instead they melted down in mesmerizing fashion, missing 11 free throws in the final 3:09 to enable the Billikens to rally for an improbable 83-80 overtime victory.

2. The two 12 seeds that did finish off their upset bids have a chance to survive into the second week. Siyani Chambers scored five of his 12 points in the final two minutes as Harvard held off fifth-seeded Cincinnati to set up a round of 32 date with Michigan State. And seldom-used reserve Carlin Dupree sank two go-ahead free throws and a huge floater in overtime as North Dakota State edged fifth-seeded Oklahoma 80-75 to earn the Bison a round of 32 matchup with San Diego State.

3. The title contender whose day was most anxiety-ridden was defending national champ Louisville, which trailed by three with less than four minutes remaining against 13th-seeded Manhattan before three of last March's stalwarts saved the day. Russ Smith tied the game with a 3-pointer, Montrezl Harrell had two huge blocks and Luke Hancock buried two more threes as the Cardinals escaped with a 71-64 victory. Rick Pitino had complained about the matchup before the game because it pitted him against former assistant coach Steve Masiello.

4. The surest sign Thursday had the potential to be chaotic was that the first game to tip off ended with an upset set up by a frenzied finish. Dayton's Vee Sanford drove past Ohio State's Aaron Craft and banked in a go-ahead runner with 3.8 seconds to go, securing a 60-59 victory that sent the Flyers into the round of 32 for the first time in five years. It was a cruel finish to a sterling career for Craft, who has built a reputation as one of college basketball's better on-ball defenders but got beat at the worst possible time. 

5. The last 118 times San Diego State had led with five minutes to play entering Thursday night, the Aztecs had won the game. That streak reached 119 with a 73-69 victory over New Mexico State, but this was a win that didn't have to be so close. San Diego State led by eight with 1:24 to play before missed free throws, blown box-outs and one disastrous turnover enabled the Aggies to tie the game with a deep 3-pointer with six seconds left in regulation. Xavier Thames scored five points in overtime to help the Aztecs survive.

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Patric Young #4 of the Florida Gators and John Puk #44 of the Albany Great Danes battle for a rebound during the …

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"You see the size of Patric Young?  If he couldn't make it in the NBA he's going to have a shot in the NFL.  If he doesn't go to the NFL, he'll be in the WWE, if he doesn't go to the WWE maybe UFC, I mean, that guy is enormous." -- Albany coach Will Brown on Florida's chiseled 6-foot-9, 240-pound center. Young had 10 points and 10 rebounds in Florida's 67-55 win over the 16th-seeded Great Danes.

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San Diego State's incredibly topless mascot poses during the Aztecs' game against New Mexico State.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

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