The first full day of the 2019 NCAA Tournament began on Thursday, March 21, as Minnesota and Louisville faced off in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. There would be 32 games played in the next two days at various locations.
Minnesota defeated Louisville, 86-76, to get the day started, followed by two Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams winning. An LSU victory over Yale would be the first, before Auburn snuck by New Mexico State in the closest game of the day. The Tigers had a one-point lead in the final seconds and Trevelin Queen had a shot to win the game for the Aggies but missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
The Big Ten also had a good day, as their teams went 5-0.
The Spartans defeated Bradley 76-65, led by Big Ten Player of the Year, Cassius Winston, who had a team-high 26 points and four assists.
The Wolverines blew out Montana behind 22 points and 10 rebounds from Charles Matthews. Zavier Simpson also added 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Murray State also had a significant victory, the first tournament win in school history, as Ja Morant dropped 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds versus Marquette.
On the second day of the tournament, March 22, there were another 16 teams that advanced to the Round of 32. The day began with Iowa defeating Cincinnati in Columbus, Ohio. The Hawkeyes won 79-72 after trailing by five points at halftime.
Luka Garza had a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds.
“I really am proud of the team this year. They are a lot of younger guys on the team this season,” Coreontae DeBerry, former Bearcats player, said. “I believe they will be the top team going into next season because of the hungry basketball players they have there.”
Oklahoma defeated Ole Miss, 95-72, followed by victories by Duke and North Carolina, who won each of their games by 15 or more points. The Blue Devils ran over North Dakota State behind two of the best players in the country, Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. The two combined for 51 points, 17 rebounds, and three assists.
Earlier in the day, Tennessee eliminated Colgate with a 77-70 win. Admiral Schofield had 19 points. Jordan Bone added 16 points.
“I’m definitely impressed with the progress of the players individually, this group (has) been together for a few years and they built a chemistry unmatched and a brotherhood that rely on one another,” Brian Williams said.
Williams played for Tennessee from 2007-2011. “The hardest game in the tournament is the first one. The team can go as far as their defense and the three ball can take them.”
The Sweet Sixteen will be on March 28 and 29 in Anaheim, Louisville, Kansas City, and Washington D.C.
The Final Four will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday, April 6.