Day 1 of the 2021 men's NCAA tournament is in the books, and it featured just the ninth No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2, the only Indiana-based team in the tournament losing, Rutgers and Oregon State winning their program's first NCAA tourney games since the 1980s and more. What will Day 2 bring, as the remaining 16 games of the first round are settled?
Sports Illustrated is keeping this space updated with all of the action, starting with Colorado-Georgetown and ending with Oregon-VCU. Check back here for capsules from all 16 games as the field is cut in half to set the Round of 32 (the day's full schedule is below).
No. 5 Colorado 96, No. 12 Georgetown 73
The Buffaloes came out on fire and never let up in a rout of the Hoyas to open up Saturday's action. Colorado easily snuffed out Georgetown's upset attempt thanks to a ridiculous shooting day, with the team going 60.7% from the field, 64% from three and 85.7% from the free throw line. Jabari Walker came off the bench to drain all five of his shots from deep and finish with a game-high 24, while point guard McKinley Wright IV deftly added 12 points and 13 assists. The Hoyas had little answers defensively for a Buffs team that rolls into the second round. —Molly Geary
No. 4 Florida State 64, No. 14 UNC Greensboro 53
The Seminoles never trailed in this one, but it was rarely comfortable for FSU thanks to a stingy defensive effort by UNCG. The Spartans scored just seven points in the game’s first 13 minutes and shot just 32% from the field for the game, yet found a way to trail by just three with four minutes to go. How? UNC Greensboro forced 15 turnovers to slow down the Florida State offense, and Keyshaun Langley's five made threes provided the offensive spark the Spartans needed. But in the end, UNCG just couldn’t make enough shots, missing a few critical free throws in the closing minutes and struggling to stop the Seminoles at the rim. FSU moves on to take on Colorado Monday. —Kevin Sweeney
No. 3 Kansas 93, No. 14 Eastern Washington 84
EWU set the internet ablaze in the first half with a 9–0 run to start the game thanks to some hot shooting from deep, but couldn’t get quite enough stops to pull the upset. Eagles star big man Tanner Groves may look like a Mountain Man of sorts, but he rocked the Jayhawks all game and finished with 35 points—the most any player has scored in the tournament so far. But Kansas lit up the scoreboard in the second half, scoring 55 points and outscoring EWU by 17 in the second. Marcus Garrett led the way with 23 for the Jayhawks, but getting 22 from David McCormack was huge, especially considering he only rejoined the team yesterday after being left home due to COVID-19 protocols. —K.S.
No. 8 LSU 76, No. 9 St. Bonaventure 61
Both teams got off to a rough offensive start in this one, with the Tigers eventually setting in and building a lead they wouldn't relinquish. LSU freshman Cameron Thomas showed why he's one of college basketball's best pure scorers in dropping 27 points, while three of his teammates recorded double doubles as the Tigers punished the Bonnies on the boards. Playing largely with just a six-man rotation, St. Bonaventure was stymied by the Tigers' defense and never seriously threatened in the second half. It was a tough day for Bonnies star Kyle Lofton, who made just three of his 18 attempts from the field. —M.G.
No. 1 Michigan 82, No. 16 Texas Southern 66
The Wolverines' frontcourt had its way with the Tigers, with Hunter Dickinson scoring 16 on 6-for-7 shooting and Brandon Johns Jr. adding 11 to complement a productive day by point guard Mike Smith. This one wasn't quite as close as the final score indicates, with Michigan leading by as many as 24 in the second half before Texas Southern, led by Michael Weathers, tightened it late. The Wolverines' win ensures there will be no No. 1 vs. No. 16 upset this year, but a talented LSU squad awaits Michigan in what will surely be one of the second round's most closely-watched matchups on Monday. —M.G.
No. 5 Creighton 63, No. 12 UC Santa Barbara 62
This was incredibly tight all game long. Cold shooting by UCSB allowed Creighton to extend its lead to 10 early in the second half, but the Gauchos simply refused to go away. A 10–0 run capped by a JaQuori McLaughlin jumper gave UCSB its first lead since the first half at 50–49, and the game rarely wasn’t a one-possession contest from then on out. The Gauchos led by one with 33 seconds to go and appeared to have the stop they needed defensively, but Creighton big man Christian Bishop hauled in a huge offensive rebound and was fouled. Just a 57% free throw shooter, Bishop calmly sunk both. On the other end, Santa Barbara big Amadou Sow had a great look take the lead, but the layup rolled off with two seconds to go and the Bluejays survived. —K.S.
No. 2 Alabama 68, No. 15 Iona 55
Rick Pitino's Gaels gave the Crimson Tide a scare, waging a competitive game for 30 minutes as they threatened to become the second No. 15 seed to turn the men's bracket upside-down, but in the end, the swarming Bama defense was too much. Timely baskets by Herbert Jones and Jahvon Quinerly down the stretch helped the Tide pull away from upset-minded Iona despite Alabama's uncharacteristically subpar day from three (31.1%) and 14 turnovers. Alabama was playing a third straight game without guard Joshua Primo, who sprained his MCL in the SEC tournament. —M.G.
No. 6 USC 72, No. 11 Drake 56
It was the Evan Mobley show at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with the Trojans' star 7-footer putting together a 17-point, 11-rebound, three-block line and playing tough defense to help put away the Bulldogs and complete an afternoon window of chalk. Joseph Yesufu did his best to keep Drake in it, scoring 26 of their 56 points and canning six threes, but he got little help elsewhere as the Bulldogs' stay in Indy came to a close. USC advances to face Kansas on Monday.
No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 VCU—CANCELED
The first forfeit of the men's NCAA tournament came Saturday evening, as VCU had to withdraw hours before its scheduled game vs. Oregon due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests in the last 48 hours. The Ducks advance to the Round of 32.
No. 2 Iowa 86, No. 15 Grand Canyon 74
The Hawkeyes were never seriously threatened by a Grand Canyon team making its first NCAA tournament appearance. While the Antelopes hung tough on the glass and on the interior, Iowa’s 10 triples were too much for a GCU team that lacks the offensive firepower to answer. Luka Garza did his thing, amassing 24 points and six rebounds in his return to the NCAA tournament. Joe Wieskamp, Keegan Murray and Jordan Bohannon all scored in double figures for Iowa, which advances to take on Oregon.
No. 13 Ohio 62, No. 4 Virginia 58
A trendy upset pick came to fruition when the Bobcats took down the defending national champions at Assembly Hall. The game was played at Virginia’s pace, a grind-it-out halfcourt affair. But the Cavs couldn’t take advantage, going 10:08 without a field goal during a second-half drought that saw them score just two points in that stretch. And while they were stymied most of the game, Ohio took advantage during that stretch, going on an extended 17–2 run headed by Jason Preston and Ben Vander Plas. Preston nearly recorded a triple double, tallying 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists for the Bobcats. Vander Plas added 17, including nine straight Bobcat points in the closing minutes. A date with Creighton awaits Ohio. —K.S.
No. 10 Maryland 64, No. 7 UConn 54
An ice-cold shooting first half ultimately doomed the Huskies, who grabbed 18 rebounds in the first 20 minutes but made just 11 of their first 44 shots from the field in the face of a stout Terrapins defense. Maryland limited UConn star James Bouknight to 6-for-16 shooting and 15 points, while Terps guard Eric Ayala dropped 23 and Aaron Wiggins added 14. The undersized Terrapins lineup proved to create difficult matchups on defense for the Huskies, whose late comeback attempt never got within one possession. —M.G.
No. 8 Oklahoma 72, No. 9 Missouri 68
The Sooners’ late-game execution was far from perfect, but they held on to knock off Missouri without second-leading scorer De’Vion Harmon (COVID-19 protocols). The trio of Austin Reaves, Brady Manek and Elijah Harkless scored 58 of OU’s 72 points, and no other Sooner made more than one field goal in the game. Still, that was just enough for a shorthanded Oklahoma squad to get past a Missouri team that entered the tournament having lost six of its last nine games. The game was tight throughout, but a late 7–0 run by the Sooners proved to be just enough to withstand Mizzou’s late charge. —K.S.
No. 1 Gonzaga 98, No. 16 Norfolk State 55
It appears Gonzaga is still good. The Bulldogs fired on all cylinders to begin their quest to become the first undefeated men's national champion since Indiana in 1975–76 with an absolutely dominant display, nearly doubling up the MEAC champions. By the second half, the game turned into a personal dunk contest for the Bulldogs, as the Zags put on highlight reel play after highlight reel play in a game that was never remotely close. Gonzaga advances to a second-round matchup against Oklahoma, which knocked off Missouri Saturday. —K.S.
No. 11 UCLA 73, No. 6 BYU 62
A team from the First Four has won at least one additional game in the Big Dance in every year but one since it was established in 2011. That trend continued with UCLA’s impressive victory over BYU. The Bruins, who needed a win over Michigan State Thursday just to earn a spot in this game, never trailed in this one. Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang continued his terrific play after battling an ankle injury suffered late in the win over MSU, pouring in 25 points to lead all scorers and looking no worse for wear in the process. Meanwhile, UCLA stymied a BYU offense that came into the game in the top 30 nationally in offensive efficiency per KenPom, holding the Cougars to their lowest point total since Dec. 1. —K.S.
No. 14 Abilene Christian 53, No .3 Texas 52
What better way to wrap up the first round than a true David over Goliath upset for the ages? Abilene Christian, a program that finished over .500 once in its final 14 years of D-II basketball before moving up in 2013, took down one of the biggest brands in college sports. How? An incredible swarming defensive effort that forced the Longhorns into 22 turnovers. That, combined with a relentless effort on the glass, allowed ACU to attempt 27 more shots than Texas did. The Wildcats needed all 27 extra shots, shooting a brutal 29.9% from the field. But they found a way to squeak by late on a pair of Joe Pleasant free throws to close out one of the biggest upsets of the year. —K.S.
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