The Morning After Recap: NCAA Tournament Day One

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 15: Briante Weber #2 of the Virginia Commonwaealth Rams and David Kyles #24 of the Wichita State Shockers battle for the ball in the second half in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Rose Garden Arena on March 15, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

... the safe, smart AM read for college basketball fans

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The real day one of the NCAA tournament is history, and we can't help but feel a tad unsatisfied with the results. Aside from whiffing on three big-time upsets throughout the day and watching our bracket take a serious hit, the lack of even one buzzer-beating shot or dramatic finish was extremely strange for a normally unpredictable 16-game slate. Come to think of it, it was almost unMadness-like.

Wichita State and VCU gave us easily the most competitive game of the day, even if the whole time it felt like a big waste to have two perfectly capable mid-majors trying to kill each other off. Even so the 12-seeded Rams' victory represented one of just two upsets based on seed lines, meaning it will take a mind-blowing set of events on Friday for this year's opening round to even be mentioned in the same breath as some of the excitement-filled openers of past years.

We know this tournament will live up to its time-tested reputation and shock and amaze us soon enough. Day one, though, was a little too chalky for our tastes. So will Friday go down as the day of the upset? Or is more of the same headed our way?

Who Won It Best

VCU - Wouldn't you know it, this Shaka Smart character is at it again. Go figure. Smart's Rams slid past a dangerous Wichita State bunch in the South region's 12 vs. 5 game, paving the way for a meeting with Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers this weekend with a chance to (probably) face Kentucky next week on the line. For as difficult as it is to imagine VCU going on another deep run in 2012, especially when you look at some of the teams it would have to face, we simply can't ignore the reality of what Smart and company pulled off a year ago. Is Cinderella back at the ball?

Colorado - Fellow Pac-12 representative California failed to reach the field of 64, and all indications were that the Buffaloes would quickly follow suit and end up on the first flight back to Boulder. Remarkably, however, Tad Boyle's team found a way to keep the magic alive and add another chapter to his program's dream season. It's still concerning that Colorado nearly blew a massive lead in the final minutes by letting the Rebels back into the game, a eery carbon copy of the chokejob that nearly cost the Buffaloes the Pac-12 title game. Inconsistency like this might not cut it against an athletic, imposing squad like the Baylor Bears.

Who Lost it Worst

Connecticut - This was supposed to be the team that could give Kentucky a legit battle in the next round. Instead, it's clear that everyone overvalued exactly what Jim Calhoun's squad was capable of doing this postseason, and whether the motivation to pull that off exists to begin with. If the Huskies' loss to Iowa State proves one thing though, it's that Kemba Walker is roughly 47 times better than Jeremy Lamb at leading a basketball team.

UNLV - The Rebels played like they had no idea it was actually the NCAA tournament for a while on Thursday, then quickly scrambled to life down the stretch to turn a 20-point Colorado lead into a two-point deficit. It was quite amazing. But even with the game well within reach, Dave Rice's squad didn't appear to have the right mindset offensively to get the job done. The Rebels ignored getting the ball inside and instead remained married to the same three-point line that created the entire deficit to begin with. So instead of a hip Elite Eight pick, UNLV goes back to Vegas as one of the biggest disappointments of the tourney.

MVP

Jae Crowder-Marquette - The Big East Player of the Year went off against a helpless BYU front line to set up a Saturday date with No. 6 Murray State. Crowder totaled 25 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, and four steals in Marquette's 20-point win, and remains one of the hottest players in college basketball without question.

By The Numbers

29.3% - Difference between the effective field goal percentages of Gonzaga (65.0%) and West Virginia (35.7%)

6 - Blocks by Kansas State center Jordan Henriquez

71 - Shot attempts by UNLV in its loss to Colorado. Of the 71, 36 came from three-point range.

This Really Happened

Mr. Versatile Royce White shredding UConn's defense for the flush (Gifulmination)

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