March Madness Day 1 recap: Kentucky becomes latest No. 2 seed to bite the dust in opening round

·9 min read

It was an action-packed and highly entertaining return to normalcy Thursday at the NCAA men's tournament and the biggest splash came from a little-known Cinderella: Saint Peter's University of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

St. Peter’s made NCAA tournament history Thursday night and did so at Kentucky’s expense.

The Peacocks came into the tournament as the No. 15 seed in the East region and massive underdogs to the mighty Wildcats, who had the third-best odds to win the national championship. But Shaheen Holloway’s team had no fear.

The Peacocks, who were 18-point underdogs, pulled off a massive upset by beating No. 2 seed Kentucky 85-79 in overtime.

In the first half, St. Peter’s was carried by Daryl Banks III, who posted a career-high 27 points. Down the stretch, though, the Peacocks leaned on the sharp-shooting Doug Edert. He connected on a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:26 in regulation and then sent the game to overtime with a driving layup with 24 seconds to go.

In overtime, Edert sank another game-tying triple before Banks knocked down the free throws that gave the Peacocks the lead for good. Edert finished the night with 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench.

There must be superpowers in that mustache. How else do you explain Kentucky losing in the first round for the first time in John Calipari’s head coaching tenure in Lexington?

With the win, St. Peter’s became the 10th No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2 seed in the first round. It’s a rare occurrence. Between 1991 and 2011, there were only four 15-2 upsets. With St. Peter’s triumph, that’s now six of them that have happened in the past 10 seasons.

Back in 2012, there were two on the same day. Lehigh shocked Duke and Norfolk State knocked off Missouri.

“Dunk City” burst onto the scene the following season. Florida Gulf Coast stormed past Georgetown and then became the first No. 15 seed to advance into the Sweet 16.

In 2016, it was Middle Tennessee that upset Michigan State before Oral Roberts came along in 2021 and shocked Ohio State. ORU then beat Florida to join Florida Gulf Coast as the second No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.

Does St. Peter’s have what it takes to become the third? The Peacocks will meet Murray State in the Round of 32 on Saturday. The Racers, the East's No. 7 seed, outlasted San Francisco 92-87 in an overtime thriller.

Iowa shocked by Richmond

St. Peter’s massive victory over Kentucky overshadowed an upset that occurred earlier in the day: Richmond’s 67-63 win over Iowa.

Iowa, the No. 5 seed in the Midwest, was one of the hottest teams in the country entering the NCAA tournament. The Hawkeyes were riding high after winning the Big Ten tournament, but then promptly turned in one of their worst shooting performances of the season and lost to a Richmond team that had no chance at an at-large bid without winning the Atlantic 10 tournament.

And to the Spiders’ credit, they did just that. And they carried that momentum forward while Iowa’s came to a screeching halt. The Hawkeyes shot a measly 6-of-29 from 3-point range. That’s just 20.7%. Iowa wasn’t much better from the field, going 24-of-66 (36.4%).

Richmond didn’t shoot the lights out, but it made the plays it needed in the second half to build and ultimately hold onto the lead. Jacob Gilyard scored 24 points in the win, outplaying Iowa All-American Keegan Murray (21 points) in the process.

Iowa has reached the NCAA tournament six times in Fran McCaffery’s 12 years as head coach and has never advanced past the Round of 32.

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - MARCH 17: Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts to a play during the first half against the Richmond Spiders in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 17, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts to a play during the first half against the Richmond Spiders in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 17, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Gonzaga survives scare, Baylor and Kansas cruise

Three of the four No. 1 seeds were in action Thursday. While Baylor and Kansas cruised to ho-hum victories, Gonzaga had a bit of a sweat.

The Bulldogs, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, found themselves in a battle with No. 16 seed Georgia State, the Sun Belt champions. In fact, Gonzaga’s lead was just 56-54 at the under-12 timeout. A few minutes later, though, the Bulldogs switched into a higher gear.

GU embarked on a 24-1 run to flip what was a close game into the blowout we all expected to see. The final result was a 93-72 victory.

While the Bulldogs struggled with their outside shooting, Georgia State had no answers for Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren down low. Timme led all scorers with 32 points and 13 rebounds. Holmgren, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, posted 19 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks and five assists.

Providence holds off popular upset pick South Dakota State

One of the most popular first-round upset picks was South Dakota State, the No. 13 seed in the Midwest region, over Providence, the No. 4 seed.

Despite not having any first-team all-conference players, Providence managed to win the Big East regular season title. The Friars had a remarkable penchant for pulling out close games throughout the regular season, but many thought they’d run into a troublesome matchup in the first round.

South Dakota State, the Summit League champions, hadn’t lost a game since Dec. 15. Until Thursday.

The Jackrabbits, the nation’s top 3-point shooting team, struggled against the rugged Friars. Providence held SDSU to 38.6% from the field and 7-of-23 (30.4%) from beyond the arc in a hard-fought 66-57 victory. The win was Providence’s first in NCAA tournament play since 2016.

Providence's Al Durham (1) celebrates after drawing a foul while scoring in the second half of a college basketball game against South Dakota State during the first round of the NCAA men's tournament Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Providence won 66-57. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Providence's Al Durham (1) celebrates after drawing a foul while scoring in the second half of a college basketball game against South Dakota State during the first round of the NCAA men's tournament Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Providence won 66-57. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Providence wasn’t the only No. 4 seed that found itself in a battle Thursday. In the West region, Arkansas was able to grind out a 75-71 win over Vermont to move on to the Round of 32. And in the East, UCLA trailed Akron for the majority of the second half but escaped with a 57-53 win despite shooting 35.2% from the field.

UCLA went to the Final Four in 2021. In 2022, the Bruins were nearly bounced in the first round.

Another first-round exit for UConn

The trajectory of UConn’s program has improved under Dan Hurley, no doubt. But a second straight season with a first-round NCAA tournament exit is hard to swallow.

Last year, the Huskies lost in the first round to Maryland as a No. 7 seed. This year, UConn lost 70-63 to New Mexico State, the WAC champions, as a No. 5 seed.

The Huskies fell behind by 10 at halftime and twice tied the score in the final minutes. However, they had no answers for New Mexico State star Teddy Allen. He exploded for 37 points, including his team’s final 15, to give the Aggies their first NCAA tournament victory since 1993.

All 4 Mountain West teams eliminated

The first full day of the NCAA tournament has come to a close and all four of the Mountain West’s teams have been eliminated.

Wyoming lost to Indiana in the First Four, and Colorado State, Boise State and San Diego State all lost Thursday. All three of the Mountain West teams that played Thursday were the higher seeds.

Colorado State, the No. 6 seed in the South, had a seven-point halftime lead over Michigan but ended up losing, 75-63. San Diego State, the No. 8 seed in the Midwest, also blew a sizable lead. The Aztecs led Creighton 62-53 with 3:51 to play and ended up losing 72-69 in overtime. Boise State, the No. 8 seed in the West, lost 64-53 to Memphis.

The Mountain West is 1-11 in NCAA tournament play since 2016.

Tennessee, Saint Mary’s turn in impressive performances

Two of the best showings of the day came from Tennessee and Saint Mary’s.

The history of UT coach Rick Barnes in NCAA tournament play is not positive, but the Vols demolished No. 14 seed Longwood 88-56 in South region play. Tennessee shot 60% from the field in the win, including 14-of-24 (58.3%) from 3-point range.

St. Mary’s, meanwhile, turned in a similarly strong offensive performance. The Gaels, the East’s No. 5 seed, trounced Indiana 82-53. St. Mary’s shot 51.7% from the field and knocked down 10 threes while limiting Indiana to 34% shooting and just two 3-pointers.

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 17: Tommy Kuhse #12 of the St. Mary's Gaels reacts after a three point basket against the Indiana Hoosiers in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 17: Tommy Kuhse #12 of the St. Mary's Gaels reacts after a three point basket against the Indiana Hoosiers in the first round game of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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