NCAA Tournament Thursday Night Recap: Clutch at Louisville, Texas' buzzer beater, NC State's collapse

T.J. Warren was on the wrong side of an NCAA Tournament heartbreaker

The first night of the NCAA Tournament brought one of the biggest upsets of the day, the biggest collapse and an upset avoided.

Here’s what you may have missed.

Most clutch performance: Luke Hancock, Louisville
Luke Hancock was the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player during the Cardinals' title run last season. He's apparently going for another award. Hancock finished with 16 points including the go-ahead free throws and two 3-point baskets to hold off Manhattan. The Jaspers, led by Pitino's former ball boy/walk on/assistant Steve Masiello, led the Cardinals by 3 with less than four minutes to go.

Best finish: Cameron Ridley’s garbage basket

As far as buzzer-beating game-winners go, Cameron Ridley did not have one of the most graceful, but it was effective enough. Texas beat Arizona State 87-85 when Ridley cleaned up a Jonathan Holmes’ missed 3 for the Longhorns to advance to play Michigan.


Image of the Night: Arizona State's bench
Arizona State's bench, immediately following the Ridley game-winner:
 


Upset of the night: North Dakota State

Another sport, another Big 12 team to fall to North Dakota State.

The Bison picked up their first NCAA Tournament win in a wild 80-75 win over Oklahoma. The football program, which won the FCS tittle, opened the 2013 season with a win over Kansas State.

With Tyler Braun the face of the team for the day — a face that was kicked in the forehead by OU’s Cameron Clark in a scrum at the baseline — North Dakota State led by 8 at half, gave up a tie game with 11:40 to go and then traded leads until Lawrence Alexander hit the game-tying 3 with 12 seconds left.

The win set off the celebration of the evening:



Collapse of the night: NC State

NC State, seemingly looking for a way to lose, achieved its goal.

The Wolfpack took on a postseason collapse that will loom over the program and coach Mark Gottfried at least for the offseason but probably longer.

Trailing by 16 with 8:13 to go, Saint Louis fouled NC State ... again and again and again. NC State led the Billikens chip away thanks to 20-of-37 free throw shooting, but it would get worse.

First, the Wolfpack could not find a way to get ACC leading scorer T.J. Warren the ball in overtime. Then, a lane violation on a free throw negated a a shot that would have cut NC State’s deficit to two in the final minute.

And Warren, for some reason, was on the floor in a fouling situation in the final seconds with four fouls. He did his job, but the disqualification meant NC State would take the final shot without its best player.

Upset avoided: UConn

Saint Joseph’s led from the tipoff until the final 9:14 of the second half against Connecticut before the Huskies went 15 of 16 from the free throw line in the final 9:37 of regulation and overtime.

UConn’s perfection from the line was ruthless. The lone miss didn’t come until the final nine seconds of overtime in the 89-81 win.

Most disappointing departure: Phil Martelli’s grandson
 

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