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March Madness Thursday recap: Watch out for the 11 seeds — and Jack Gohlke

We're just one day into the NCAA tournament, and most brackets out there are already busted

Day 1 of the NCAA men's tournament is in the books, and brackets are already overwhelmingly busted.

Thursday marked a thrilling, upset-filled start to the tournament with a trio of No. 11 seeds and Jack Gohlke ensuring that 99.9% of perfect brackets were toast before the late games even tipped. If you're in the 0.1%, congratulations. Go buy a lottery ticket.

For the rest of us, let's sit back and enjoy what's already been an entertaining NCAA tournament.

Beware the 11 seeds

While Oakland stole the show with its upset of Kentucky, it was Duquesne and Oregon that got the party started.

No. 11 Duquesne tipped things off in the early slate of games against No. 6 BYU. The Cougars were back on their heels from the start. The Dukes opened scoring with a 3-pointer en route to a 9-0 lead. They took a 38-30 edge into halftime that they extended to 46-32 three minutes into the second half.

Jimmy Clark III and Duquesne are still dancing. (Brendall O'Banon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Jimmy Clark III and Duquesne are still dancing. (Brendall O'Banon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

The Cougars fought back to tie the game at 60. But the Dukes would not be denied as they outscored the Cougars 11-7 down the stretch to secure a 71-67 upset that few saw coming. Duquesne's win just two games into the tournament left just 16.3% of perfect bracket's standing.

Oregon keeps the upsets coming

Then came Oregon, which a lot of folks — including those in Las Vegas — did see coming. Despite playing as a No. 11 seed against sixth-seeded South Carolina, Oregon entered the game as a 2.5-point favorite.

The Ducks exceeded expectations. Oregon opened a 34-29 halftime lead that was cut to five by a miracle Ta'Lon Cooper 3-pointer from beyond halfcourt that beat the first-half buzzer. Oregon wasn't fazed.

Led by ex-Gamecock Jermaine Couisnard, Oregon opened up the second half en route to an 87-73 win.

Oregon logoOregon logo
Jermaine Couisnard
G - ORE - #5
Torching his former team
40
Pts
4
Reb
6
Ast
1
Stl
37
Min

Couisnard played three seasons for South Carolina before joining Oregon last season amid a coaching change that saw the Gamecocks fire Frank Martin in favor of Lamont Paris. He previously told the Oregonian that lack of communication from Paris played a role in his decision to enter the transfer portal.

That series of events ultimately came back to bite the Gamecocks in a big way on Thursday as Couisnard scored a career-high and Oregon NCAA tournament-record 40 points to send his former team back to Columbia without a tournament win. He was scorching from the field on a 14-of-22 effort while hitting 5 of 9 3-point attempts.

NC State follows suit

NC State kept the trend alive on Thursday night.

The Wolfpack, after a dominant run through the ACC tournament last week, kept No. 6 Texas Tech at arm's length in their opening matchup in Pittsburgh. They rolled to an 80-67 win to reach the second round of the tournament for the first time since 2015, which was the same year they stunned No. 1 Villanova.

NC State only took a slight lead at halftime before finally breaking open a 13-2 run in the second half. From there, the Wolfpack simply cruised to grab the 13-point win — which set up a matchup with Oakland on Saturday. Ben Middlebrooks led the Wolfpack with 21 points off the bench, and senior DJ Burns Jr. added 16 points while shooting 11-of-17 from the field.

N.C. State logoN.C. State logo
Ben Middlebrooks
F - NCST - #34
3/21/2024 v. TTU
21
Pts
4
Reb
1
Ast
2
Blk
23
Min

NC State has now won six straight games, including its impressive five-win stretch at the ACC tournament.

Are 11-6 matchups the new 12-5?

Thursday marks the fourth straight tournament in which at least one No. 11 seed has advanced. Three of those tournaments have seen multiple No. 11 seeds win, and several have advanced deeper in the tournament.

Last year, No. 11 Pittsburgh upset No. 6 Iowa State then lost to No. 3 seed Xavier in the second round. In 2022, three No. 11 seeds advanced. Iowa State beat No. 6 LSU and then No. 3 Wisconsin en route to the Sweet 16. Michigan also made it to the Sweet 16 with wins over No. 6 Colorado State and No. 3 Tennessee. Notre Dame beat No. 6 Alabama and then lost to No. 3 Texas Tech in the second round.

But 2021 brought us one of the most successful No. 11 seeds of all time. UCLA beat No. 6 BYU, No. 14 Abilene Christian, No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 Michigan en route to the Final Four. There it lost to Gonzaga in an all-time thriller of a national semifinal.

Now we have Duquesne, Oregon and NC State. New Mexico will be the last No. 11 seed to play its NCAA tournament opener. It's a 2.5-point favorite over Clemson on Friday. Are any bound for the Sweet 16 or a deep run like 2021 UCLA?

Jack Gohlke torches Kentucky, busts most brackets

Jack Gohlke is the next big NCAA tournament star.

Gohlke led No. 14 Oakland to a massive upset win over No. 3 Kentucky on Thursday night. Gohlke dropped 10 3-pointers and had 32 points in the stunning win, which marked just Kentucky’s latest struggles in the postseason. That, of course, renewed calls for head coach John Calipari's job.

Oakland logoOakland logo
Jack Gohlke
G - OAKL - #3
3/21/2024 v. UK
32
Pts
36
Min
20
3PA
10
3PM

Gohlke was just one made 3-pointer shy of matching the all-time single-game tournament record, which was set by LMU’s Jeff Fryer in 1990. Gohlke had seven of his 10 3-pointers in the first half, and then helped push the Golden Grizzlies to the win in the second half.

While he turned plenty of heads with his performance, it isn’t too surprising. All but eight of the guard’s field goal attempts during the regular season were from behind the arc.

The Grizzlies will take on NC State in the second round on Saturday.

As a result of the upset, almost every remaining perfect bracket was busted. More than 95% of Yahoo brackets had picked Kentucky to move onto the second round. So by the time that upset went through, only 0.1% of brackets made through Yahoo Sports were still perfect.

Then, at the end of the night, only 116 were left. If that's you, best of luck on Friday. You're going to need it.

Marcus Domask leads Illinois with triple-double

Marcus Domask joined an elite group of college basketball players on Thursday afternoon.

Domask became just the ninth player in NCAA tournament history to record a triple-double on Thursday while leading No. 3 Illinois to an 85-69 win over No. 14 Morehead State. He put up 12 points and had 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and hit his triple-double with a 3-pointer late in the second half.

Domask is the first player to have a triple-double since Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant did so with Murray State in 2019. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green is the only player to do so twice. Michigan’s Gary Grant was the first to do so in 1987. Shaquille O’Neal, David Cain, Andre Miller, Dwayne Wade, and Cole Aldrich round out that list.

Domask and Illinois will advance to the second round to take on Duquesne on Saturday.

Kansas sneaks past Samford after controversial foul

Kansas nearly blew a 22-point lead late on Thursday night.

But thanks to a late burst, and a controversial foul call in the final seconds, the Jayhawks are moving into the second round.

No. 4 Kansas got past No. 13 Samford, 93-89, in their first-round game late on Thursday night. Despite almost blowing a 22-point lead in the second half, it was a foul call in the final seconds that sealed the deal.

Kansas’ Nicolas Timberlake caught a pass on a fast break and went up for a dunk with just 14 seconds left when Samford’s A.J. Staton-McCray came flying behind and blocked the shot. Timberlake went crashing down to the court, and eventually went to the free throw line — where he made both of his shots and gave Kansas a three-point lead.

But a closer look at the play clearly showed that Staton-McCray didn’t touch Timberlake at all. He got all ball.

But the call stood as it was made on the court, which eventually led to Kansas’ four-point win.

So Kansas will now advance to the second round and will take on No. 5 Gonzaga, which beat McNeese without much issue in its first-round game on Thursday.