Through merely half a day’s games in the first round, only about 800,000 brackets out of 17 million are still perfect.
Thursday’s opening day of the NCAA tournament showcased several thrilling games, but the unofficial beginning of March Madness 2018 lacked true upset through 12 games. Nevertheless, thirteenth-seeded Buffalo supplied the long-awaited stunner. The MAC champions outplayed No. 4 Arizona from start to finish and crushed Sean Miller’s club 89-68. And was it a masterpiece. Buffalo played a spectacular defensive game and attempted to induce Anyone apart from Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier to propel Arizona. As the final score indicates, that wasn’t close to occurring. The Wildcats completed a barbarous 2-of-18 from 3 point range, such as 0-of-5 from Trier.
The junior guard continuously forced the problem, driving into traffic, but locating nowhere to go. No teammate supplied a spacing hazard, and he generally couldn’t throw it to Ayton, either. Buffalo refused to give the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick favorable post-up chances, fronting him at the post whilst providing help on the top. Ayton still recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds, but the Bulls restricted his sway. Most of all, however, Buffalo shredded a lifeless Arizona defense. When Arizona trimmed the lead to 60-55 halfway throughout the second half, it seemed the upset was on the verge of falling apart.
Instead, Buffalo needed control. Perkins hit two free throws. Dontay Caruthers swiped the ball from Rawle Alkins and found a large open Harris for three. Massinburg banked home triple. In about two-and-a-half minutes of the Wildcats threat, the Bulls had extended their advantage to 14. From there, Buffalo flat out broke Arizona. The Wildcats failed to score through a three-minute stretch. And following the drought-breaking bucket, Harris responded by draining a measure rear rider in Ayton’s face. From 9:21 to 1:02 left in the game, Arizona scored only six points. That late-game shortage is what separated Buffalo from the near stunners scattered through Thursday’s slate.
Without Buffalo strangling Arizona, Thursday could have been seen as an exciting chain of events lacking an underdog appeal. As fun as close-ups are, many watch the Madness looking to see their bracket picks come out on top. Due to a dominant effort, especially in the second half, the Bulls gave that memorable upset over Arizona. And possibly most importantly, Buffalo made one thing clear: the craziness has come, and your brackets are busted.
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