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March Madness in Des Moines: Recap of all the first-round action of NCAA Tournament

After what seems like an eternity of anticipation and build-up, the NCAA Tournament finally tipped off in Des Moines on Thursday.

Wells Fargo Arena hosted four games Thursday. The winners of those games, which were Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Penn State, will play again on Saturday in the Round of 32 with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

Here's a recap of everything that happened during the opening day of the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines.

More:Get in on March Madness in Des Moines with free NCAA Tournament events and places to watch

FINAL: Penn State 76, Texas A&M 59

That game was an absolute blowout. Andrew Funk dominated for the Nittany Lions, finishing the game with 27 points and eight buckets from beyond the arc. His team simply didn't miss shots Thursday night, hitting on 48.2% of their overall shots from the field and an insane 59.1% mark from beyond the arc. They hit 13 long-range shots in the game.

Texas A&M just couldn't get enough offense together to overcome the barrage the Nittany Lions were throwing at them. They finished the night shooting 33.9% from the field and just 29.4% from 3-point range.

Penn State advances to take on 2-seed Texas on Saturday in Des Moines.

Penn State still piling it on

The Nittany Lions have opened up their biggest lead of the night over A&M, 20 points, with just over 15 minutes left to play.

PSU up 48-28.

Second half underway

Just 20 more minutes of basketball happening in Des Moines tonight. Let's take it all in.

Former Hawkeye legend in the house

Former Iowa Hawkeye and Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark has been spotted in Wells Fargo Arena taking in the action.

Halftime: Penn State 38, Texas A&M 22

Penn State couldn't miss in the opening half and we have a very real possibility of a lower seed taking down the higher seed for the first time here in Des Moines today.

The Nittany Lions shot 54.2% from the field and an insane 66.7% from beyond the arc on 6-of-9 shooting. The Aggies can't buy a bucket right now and haven't drained a shot from the field in the last 3:41 of the half.

Penn State's Andrew Funk leads all scorers with 15 so far on the night.

I'm not entirely sure how to describe this

But it was really cool...Take a look for yourself.

For the last time tonight, we're underway

Penn State and A&M just topped off. Seems to be a heavy contingent of Nittany Lions fans in attendance.

Penn State Nittany Lions forward Kebba Njie (3) and Texas A&M Aggies forward Henry Coleman III (15) reach for the opening tip-off during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena.
Penn State Nittany Lions forward Kebba Njie (3) and Texas A&M Aggies forward Henry Coleman III (15) reach for the opening tip-off during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena.

Final game of the night getting set

We've got about 20 minutes til tip between 7-seed Texas A&M and 10-seed Penn State.

Texas downs Colgate 81-61

The Raiders just couldn't hit shots from deep tonight, finishing 3-for-15, well below their season average of 40.9%. Texas will move on to face the winner of tonight's Texas A&M vs Penn State game coming up in about 40 minutes.

Texas Longhorns guard Sir'Jabari Rice (10) shoots the ball against the Colgate Raiders during the second half at Wells Fargo Arena.
Texas Longhorns guard Sir'Jabari Rice (10) shoots the ball against the Colgate Raiders during the second half at Wells Fargo Arena.

Sir'Jabari Rice from Texas led all scorers with 23 points. Colgate saw Ryan Moffat and Keegan Records tied for the team lead with 13 each. Raiders finish their season at 26-9, Longhorns move to 27-8.

Wells Fargo crowd rallying behind the Raiders

Colgate may be down by 11 points with less than five minutes to play, but nearly the entirety of the arena is loud and chanting for the underdog here.

I think this team has captured the hearts of Des Moines, because there definitely weren't this many Colgate fans when the game started.

Colgate struggling with its bread and butter

The Raiders came into the Tournament as the best 3-point shooting percentage team in the nation, knocking down nearly 41% of their shots from deep. But today, they're just 3-for-12 from beyond the arc, or 25%. They have just one 3-pointer in the second half.

Longhorns up 66-51 with 9:09 left to play. Not over yet because if Colgate gets hot from 3-land then they can come back quick. But those shots need to start falling soon.

Back underway for the second half

Texas and Colgate exchange quick buckets on each of their opening possessions to start the period.

HALFTIME: Texas 41, Colgate 32

The Longhorns can't extend their hotel stay in Des Moines just yet, the Raiders are battling.

Sir'Jabari Rice leads all scorers with 15 points thanks to five 3-pointers. Nobody on Colgate has more than six points on the day, but they've got seven players who have scored at least one bucket so far and have posted 11 bench points.

Don't count out Colgate

After being as down as many as 17, Colgate has cut the Texas lead to 7 after a furious 12-4 run. Down 37-30 late in the first half.

Sir'Jabari Rice is on fire

The Texas guard is up to 12 points already just over 12 minutes into the game. His season average is 12.6 points per game. Safe to say he'll probably eclipse that here tonight.

He's 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Longhorns up 32-18 on Colgate.

Upset on tap?

Texas is a trendy pick to win it all this March and they come into tonight as a 2-seed. Still, 15-seed Colgate presents a challenge. They're one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation and could make things interesting tonight.

Tipoff in about 15 minutes from Wells Fargo Arena.

Arkansas advances

It wasn't without some tense moments, but Arkansas is moving on to play top-seeded Kansas.

The Razorbacks saw their lead stretch to nearly 20 in the second half and then cut to five with 2 minutes, 30 seconds to play, but they ultimately closed out Illinois in a 73-63 victory Thursday night.

Arkansas and Kansas will faceoff inside Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday with the Sweet 16 going to the winner. Time and TV will be announced later Thursday.

Ricky Council IV 18 points to lead the way for Arkansas while Terrance Shannon had 20 for the Illini.

Illinois' late comeback was undone by a day in which it shot 38.5 percent from the field and turned it over 17 times.

So what ends Saturday - Arkansas' streak of back-to-back Elite 8s or Kansas' title defense?

Up next is the second session at The Well, with Texas and Colgate going first and Texas A&M vs. Penn State taking us into the night's final hours.

- Travis Hines

The Wells Fargo Arena living room

Maybe the biggest pop of the afternoon inside Wells Fargo Arena came when the jumbotron played the waning seconds of No. 15 Princeton's upset of No. 2 Arizona.

It was like 10,000 people watching a game together on TV.

- Travis Hines

Arkansas up at the break

It was a rough-and-tumble first half between No. 8 Arkansas and No. 9 Illinois, with the Razorbacks claiming a 36-26 halftime advantage.

The Illini shot just 27 percent from the floor while Arkansas clocked in at 42.4.

The half was really defined by the physicality and intensity in which it was played - and Illinois' total aversion to getting easy buckets. Everything came hard for them in the first 20 minutes.

It's hard to see Illinois coming back in this one unless they can loosen up the Razorback defense with some outside shooting. Luke Goode made a pair of 3s for Illinois, but the res tof the team was 1-9 from distance.

- Travis Hines

VP visits Howard locker room

Howard, playing in its first NCAA Tournament since 1992, got a visit after the game from Vice President Kamala Harris, who watched the second half of the game from a suite at Wells Fargo Arena.

Just a few moments away from Game 2

Illinois is set to take on Arkansas. Winner gets a date with the defending national champions, Kansas, on Saturday.

FINAL: Kansas 96, Howard 68

The Bison end their season with a 22-13 record after making their first NCAA Tournament trip since 1992. Kansas will move on to play Saturday in the round of 32 against the winner of the No. 8 Arkansas vs No. 9 Illinois game later this afternoon.

Vice President Harris says she's proud of Howard performing on the national stage

During the second half, the TV broadcast interviewed Vice President Kamala Harris in her suite at Wells Fargo Arena. She said she's proud of how hard her alma mater has worked to get to this point and what Howard, and sports in general, mean to her.

Vice President Kamala Harris attends the NCAA men's basketball tournament first round match-up between Kansas and Howard, on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Vice President Kamala Harris attends the NCAA men's basketball tournament first round match-up between Kansas and Howard, on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Here we are in Des Moines, and they are a tough team, they work hard, they are so disciplined and it is a joy to watch them here in March Madness. ... So many of us who are here, right, we love our school. And at Howard University I ran for my first office as freshman class representative ... I’m sure that everyone who has a team understands what it means and the joy and the commitment that we have and the traditions and the loyalty to your team."

Jayhawks starting to run away with it

Kansas is up 69-52 at the under-12 media timeout. Howard's scored just 15 points so far this half and Kansas is shooting at a 50% clip from the field this half.

Vice President Kamala Harris stops by Wells Fargo Arena for NCAA Tournament

The VP was in Iowa Thursday to discuss efforts to protect reproductive rights. It continues a series of meetings she has been holding across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision in May, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Americans' constitutional right to abortion.

Following her event, she stopped by Wells Fargo Arena to cheer on her alma mater, Howard University. They’re taking on Kansas right now and are losing 50-37 at halftime.

Halftime: Kansas 50, Howard 37

Jayhawks ended the half on an 8-0 run. Bison haven't scored a FG in the last 2:20 of game action.

Jumbotron confusing Gradey Dick

Right when Gradey Dick stepped to the line to shoot a free throw for Kansas, the jumbotron at Wells Fargo cut to the final seconds of the Virginia vs. Furman game.

Furman drilled a game-winning shot with 2.2 seconds to spare and the crowd in Des Moines went absolutely wild.

Needless to say, Dick was a bit confused about why there were such loud cheers for a free-throw attempt.

No blowout here for Kansas men's basketball

In a game Kansas was expected to run away with, Howard is keeping it tight. Bison currently down just 2, 24-22, more than halfway through the first half.

Lot of basketball still to play, but this is a fun development for the netural basketball fan.

Howard band bringing the juice

The whole pep band for the Bison showed up in matching Jordans. Might be the underdogs on the court, but that's a major W in my book.

We are underway

Howard wins the tip and a full day of action has begun here in Des Moines. Games should be going on pretty constantly from now until around 11 p.m.

Half hour til tip in Des Moines

Both teams, Howard and Kansas, are out on the floor at Wells Fargo Arena warming up before the opening game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament in Des Moines.

Big 12 commissioner in the house

Brett Yormark, the commissioner of the Big 12, has been spotted by our own Travis Hines in Wells Fargo Arena. His league, which is widely considered the best men's basketball league in the country, has two teams playing in Des Moines today.

1-seed Kansas plays Howard at 1 p.m. and 2-seed Texas will tip at 6:25 p.m. against Colgate.

Here's a full look at the schedule of today's games

  • No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Howard- 1 p.m.

  • No. 8 Arkansas vs No. 9 Illinois- 3:30 p.m.

  • No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Colgate 6:25 p.m.

  • No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Penn State 8:55

Kansas vs Howard has plenty of storylines

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the first, and only, time a 16-seed topped a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Top-seeded Virginia fell to UMBC in 2018 and now Howard is trying to topple the mighty Jayhawks. Our Travis Hines took a look at that matchup and what it means.

That game also marks a homecoming of sorts. Kansas guard Joseph Yesufu was a part of their national title team a season ago. But before that, he was a star in Des Moines for Drake. Will Kennedy spoke to him about what it meant to be back in the city where he started his basketball career.

More:Before Kansas basketball star Gradey Dick came to Des Moines, his mother was an Iowa 6-on-6 legend

Kansas coach Bill Self to miss opening round game

When the top-seed Kansas Jayhawks take the floor on Thursday afternoon, head coach Bill Self won't be with them, according to the university. Self missed the Big 12 Tournament as he recovered from a heart procedure. He is in Des Moines with the team and was at practice with them Wednesday, but won't be on the floor for their 1 p.m. game against 16-seed Howard.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: NCAA Tournament: Recap of all the first-round action in Des Moines