1. When Mercer coach Bob Hoffman watched Florida Gulf Coast win two games in the NCAA tournament last March, he admitted last week he thought, "That could have been us." It may still be after Hoffman's Bears defeated third-seeded Duke 78-71 on Friday afternoon, ousting the Blue Devils in the opening round for the second time in three years. Mercer is no flukey Cinderella though. Not only did the Bears topple Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun title game earlier this month, they also defeated Alabama, Tennessee, Florida State, Seton Hall and Ole Miss the past two years.
2. Before Desmond Haymon left home to begin his freshman year at Stephen F. Austin four years ago, the shooting guard's father promised he'd take his first-ever flight to come see his son in the NCAA tournament if the Lumberjacks ever made it. Keeping that promise proved well worth it despite the anxiety Otha endured before boarding his cross-country flight to San Diego. Desmond sank one of the shots of the tournament so far, a four-point play that forced overtime and enabled 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin to upset fifth-seeded VCU 77-75 in overtime.
Whatever chance Iowa State had of reaching the Final Four may have vanished Friday even though the Cyclones routed North Carolina Central 93-75. Georges Niang, Iowa State's versatile 6-foot-7 forward, broke his right foot during the game and will be lost for the season. His absence puts more pressure on DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim to carry Iowa State in its round of 32 game against sixth-seeded North Carolina. Niang averaged 16.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
4. The round of 32 game everyone wants to see will come to frution. Wichita State routed 16th-seeded Cal Poly and Kentucky held off pesky ninth-seeded Kansas State, setting up a matchup between the undefeated Shockers and the preseason No. 1 Wildcats. To pull an upset, Kentucky will need superior outside shooting and a better game from Andrew Harrison, who made only one field goal and had six turnovers.
5. It took a second-half rally for Virginia to avoid being on the wrong end of history. The Cavaliers shot 65 percent from the field and sank 6 of 10 threes in the second half to overcome a halftime deficit and knock off 16th-seeded Coastal Carolina, 70-59. Top seeds are now 120-0 against No. 16 seeds since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1986. Wichita State and Arizona had little trouble with their first-round matchups, while Florida put away Albany after a mini-scare Thursday afternoon.
KU's Andrew Wiggins showed off his hops in the Jayhawks' win over Eastern Kentucky.
"I like being around Positive Pauls. I don't want any Negative Nellies!"
— Memphis coach Josh Pastner
— Lehigh Athletics (@LehighSports) March 21, 2014
Providence's Friar will haunt your dreams.
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