Around March Madness: Upsets, Cinderellas and more from the first two rounds 


The first two rounds of March Madness exceeded expectations, with some saying this could be the best start to the NCAA Tournament in history. What’s so special about March Madness is how it showcases underdogs overcoming tough challenges, and how players rise to the challenge with everyone watching. If you somehow missed it all, or just want a recap of the first weekend of this year’s NCAA Tournament, then here it is. 

Best Games 

No. 13 Furman stuns No. 4 Virginia in final seconds, 68-67 

With the lead, Virginia guard Kihei Clark heaved the ball, thinking he could run the clock out. But the ball was intercepted at half-court by Furman’s Garrett Hien, who then got the ball to JP Pegues, who nailed the biggest shot of his life from downtown with two seconds remaining. Even though Jalen Slawson performed the best with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Pegues is the hero, giving the Paladins their first NCAA Tournament win since 1974. 

No. 15 Princeton shocks No. 2 Arizona, 59-55 

With 2:03 to play, Princeton took its first lead of the game thanks to Ryan Langborg. The defense excelled in the last 4:43, holding Arizona scoreless as the Tigers dropped the last nine points. Forward Tosan Evbuomwan led the team as he has been doing all year long, scoring 15 points and 7 boards on 7-for-15 shooting. 

No. 9 Florida Atlantic takes down No. 8 Memphis in thrilling finish, 66-65 

Giancarlo Rosado scored 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting off the bench, but a floater by Nicholas Boyd sealed the historic win with 2.5 seconds remaining. Even though Memphis led for the majority of the second half, the game ended with Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway chucking his water bottle in frustration. 

No. 6 TCU survives No. 11 Arizona State, 72-70 

Even on a hyperextended right knee, Mike Miles Jr. finished the game with 26 points and two blocks. With 24 seconds remaining, TCU took a three-point lead on free throws by Miles and Damion Baugh. However, those free throws were answered by Arizona State guard DJ Horne, who led the team with 17 points. With 1.5 seconds left, JaKobe Coles finally got his turn in the biggest moment of his career; he hit a floater to complete the 11-point comeback victory as TCU advanced to play Gonzaga. 

No. 8 Arkansas knocks off defending champion No. 1 Kansas, 72-71 

Kansas led for the majority of the game, seeking back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances. However, head coach Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks had other plans, advancing to their third consecutive second weekend. Davonte Davis led all scorers with 25 points along with eight rebounds, while Ricky Council IV was clutch from the free throw line, scoring 10 of his 21 points behind the charity stripe. Anthony Black fouled up three with three seconds remaining, and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson made both free throws, accidentally making the second. 

Best Upset 

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson makes history, defeats No. 1 Purdue 63-58 

FDU wasn’t even supposed to be in the NCAA Tournament, losing to ineligible Merrimack in the Northeast Conference Championship. However, as the shortest team in the field of 68, the Knights took down Zach Edey and the Boilermakers. After their First Four win over Texas Southern, then-head coach Tobin Anderson said to the team that the more he looks at Purdue, the more he thinks FDU can beat them. And FDU did exactly that, propelled by 19 points from forward Sean Moore. 

Most Impressive Teams 

Adama Sanogo, F, UConn (vs. Iona: 28 pts, 13 reb, 13-17 fg) 

Sanogo has been the key player for the Huskies all year long, earning a spot on the All-Big East First Team. Down at the half, the six-foot-nine big helped UConn take control of the game, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes of the second half. 28 points is a season-high for Sanogo, who has combined for 52 points in two games, the most out of any player through two games in this year’s NCAA Tournament. 

Ryan Kalkbrenner, C, Creighton (vs. NC State: 31 pts, 7 reb, 3 blk) 

Many were surprised when Kalkbrenner won his second consecutive Big East Defensive Player of the Year award, but he was phenomenal on that end on Friday afternoon, with three blocks and all seven rebounds on the defensive glass. Creighton shot 3-for-20 from long range, but Kalkbrenner shot 11-for-14 overall, giving the Bluejays a 72-63 win over NC State. 

Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (vs. Kent State: 24 pts, 11 reb, 5 ast, 5 blk) 

Friday in Albany had two of the best performances so far in the NCAA Tournament, with Jackson-Davis continuing to be one of the best players in the country. He shot 10-for-17 from the floor, scoring 20 points on field goals while the other four came from the free throw line. 

Oscar Tshiebwe, F, Kentucky (vs. Kansas State: 25 pts, 18 reb, 2 stl) 

The Big O has come up big in the two games Kentucky played in this year’s NCAA Tournament. In their first-round win over Providence, Tshiebwe brought down 25 rebounds, which was the best rebounding performance in the NCAA Tournament in nearly 50 years. Despite the loss in the second round against Kansas State, last year’s Wooden Award recipient certainly put an exclamation point on the end of his season. 

Johnell Davis, G, Florida Atlantic (vs. Fairleigh Dickinson: 29 pts, 12 reb, 5 ast, 5 stl) 

Florida Atlantic is the first Conference USA team to make the Sweet Sixteen since Memphis in 2009. FAU beat FDU to get there, with sophomore guard Davis leading the way. The Gary, Indiana native leads the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and has combined for 41 points in two games. He will be a key player to watch at Madison Square Garden this week. 

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