Less than 12 hours before the climax of the entertaining first four games, the men’s 2021 NCAA tournament officially kicked off on Friday.
# 1 seeds Baylor and Illinois will be in action later that afternoon, and more fascinating matchups will be spread out on the first true day of March madness in nearly two years. And if Friday’s games can match the First Four in terms of outcome and drama, college basketball fans will get a real treat.
Follow from tip one through last summer for the latest updates, reactions, and analysis from reporters, editors, and columnists on the USA TODAY Network.
Georgia Tech’s Jose Avlarado honors teammates
ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright is unavailable for # 8 Georgia Tech versus # 9 Loyola-Chicago as he tested positive for COVID-19. Teammate Jose Alvarado, a senior security guard, wears Wright’s No. 5 in his honor.
Thanks to the color evaluation, the yellow jackets took the lead against the hikers early on.
Ohio State on guard against Oral Roberts
Late in the second half, Oral Roberts is clinging to a dwindling lead (CBS) on a back and forth affair that was set to come to an exciting end.
A 15-seed upset a 2-seed twice in men’s tournament history, the most recent being in 2016 when the state of Middle Tennessee defeated the state of Michigan.
The dominant 2nd half of Texas Tech defeats the state of Utah
FINAL: Texas Tech 65, State of Utah 53
The No. 6 Red Raiders were three points behind at halftime, but in the second half they defeated the No. 11 Aggies by 15 to claim a comfortable win. In his first NCAA tournament game, Mac McClung wasn’t efficient (6:16 off the field), but he had 16 points and was one of four Texas Tech starters to hit double digits.
Sister Jean Update
Sister Jean. Butler Blue IV. All the cuteness. The basketball was good, but that could be better.
The NCAA deals with test differences between men’s and women’s tournaments
Connecticut women’s head coach Geno Auriemma told reporters that the women will receive antigen tests for COVID-19 on a daily basis, while the men will receive PCR tests on a daily basis.
Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, told three news outlets, including USA TODAY Sports, that the two tests had no different risks.
“I’m not a medical expert so I am not going to get into a debate about PCR and antigen. All health experts said that the protocol we use in all of our venues and at all of our championships is no different when it comes to conditions . ” our ability to mitigate risk, “said Emmert.
There have been complaints about differences between the two tournaments in other respects (see below for more information).
Illinois blows Drexel out
FINAL: Illinois 78, Drexel 49
No drama here for the 1-Seed Illinois who had four players scoring double digits.
Arkansas takes care of Colgate after early horror
FINAL: Arkansas 85, Colgate 68
From 14 in the first half to a 17 point win, the Razorbacks handled Colgate with relative ease in the second half after leading by three points at half time. Justin Smith poured 29 points for Arkansas.
For Colgate it was only the sixth opponent this season due to the planning of the Patriot League.
Florida survives overtime against Virginia Tech
FINAL: Florida 75, Virginia Tech 70
The first “real” game of March Madness came when No. 7 Florida defeated No. 10 Virginia Tech.
SEC Player of the Year Tre Mann delivered the dagger with 23.4 seconds in overtime. The Hokies forced the extra five minutes on Nahiem Alleyne’s 3-hander, with 1.4 seconds remaining to finish the game at 64 in the first game of the day – a fitting start for March Madness.
Florida followed at one point at 10.
Top plays: Between the legs! Declined!
Previous candidate for Pass of the Day here from Arkansas’ Davonte Davis:
And earlier candidate for Florida’s Colin Castleton rejection of the game:
Florida’s Appleby helped out in court after being beaten
Florida security guard Tyree Appleby was bailed off during his team’s first-round NCAA tournament game Friday after being struck by an accidental elbow from Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma.
Appleby was tightly defending Aluma as the Hokies striker crossed the pitch with one hand and hit Appleby in the forehead. The junior immediately went upside down and blood was visible on the square.
Florida leads Virginia Tech late.
Quad-Box it: four games in action
No. 11 Utah State and No. 6 Texas Tech act early in the first half of this matchup, while No. 1 Illinois has little problem handling Drexel with 16 seeds, with the Illinois 39-21 lead at half time went.
Colgate and Arkansas are back from halftime, while Virginia Tech and Florida are giving the impression that it’s about to hit the wire.
Arkansas storms back against Colgate
Colgate took a 14 point lead over Arkansas in the first half, but the Razorbacks scored 17 unanswered points to make a three point lead in the locker room. The final Colgate points on a Jack Ferguson 3-pointer came in at 5:30 in the half. Arkansas abandoned its run over a period of four minutes to go into halftime with a 36:33 advantage.
Jordan Burns, Patriot League Player of the Year, has yet to score and was 6-0 off the field. He took on his third foul with 46 seconds in the half.
Hokies lead halfway, Colgate hangs
In the first game of the first round, Virginia Tech # 10 faced Florida # 7. The Hokies started 5v9 from three point range, and Hunter Cattoor made his first three attempts from deep while the Gators as Team were 1-on-6 out of three.
Virginia Tech took advantage of a seriously selfless game to make room (and this isn’t a bad defense against Florida, either).
In the same corner of the South Region, Colgate # 14 and Arkansas # 3 were the second pick of the day (TruTV). In the first 14 minutes, Colgate still has to be physically surpassed and shoots well from the depth to build an 11-point lead.
Do not miss
The NCAA recognizes the difference between men’s and women’s tournaments
Pictures surfaced Thursday showing the stark differences in gifts given to basketball players compared to men. Stanford’s sports coach Ali Kershner posted photos of the facilities in the Indianapolis bubble (where the men play) compared to the San Antonio bubble (where the women are).
Recognizing the discrepancy in amenities, the NCAA cited space constraints – although the on-site staff quickly denied the point – and said, “We want to address the needs of our participating teams and are actively working to improve the resources available on the practice sites . ” including additional strength training equipment. “
The men’s tournament had outdoor space at a nearby minor league ballpark, while the only opportunity for fresh air on the women’s side is from the team hotel to the coronavirus test sites. There is even a considerable difference in quality between the “pouch bags” received by male and female players.
Featuring: Chris Bumbaca, Scott Gleeson, Erick Smith