INDIANAPOLIS – Some are starting, hey? For starters, the First Four were even better than the famous shrimp cocktail in St. Elmo, down the street from the NCAA bubble.
« March Madness is back, right? » said Norfolk State coach Robert Jones after his Spartans skipped Appalachian State 54-53.
10: The combined margin of regulation of the four games, making it the next first four in history. Three of the games had potential wins in the air in the last five seconds of regulation. No one went in.
19, 14, 12, 10: The leads from Norfolk State, Michigan State, Wichita State, and Mount St. Mary’s. All of them were blown. Norfolk State recovered to survive, the other three not. « There’s heartbreak, there’s summer beaters, that’s it right there, » said Appalachian State coach Dustin Kearns, being a one-point victim in the tournament. « That’s why everyone loves it. » 12:45 PM: What the clock said at the end of UCLA’s 86-80 victory over Michigan State in Purdue. Given this year’s NCAA decree required the early game losers to leave town Thursday night, Mount St. Mary may have been back in Maryland before the Bruins were back at their Indianapolis hotel. No wonder the music was closing time after the game at Mackey Arena.
25: The total score of Adrian Delph from Appalachian State, ShanQuan Hemphill from Drake, Tyson Etienne from Wichita State, Devante Carter from Norfolk State and Michael Weathers from Texas Southern. Why should that matter? They were all their teams’ top scorers this season, averaging 76 points per game. Etienne, defended by Drakes D.J. Wilkins scored one point and missed all six shots. He was a member of the American Athletic Conference of the year. Hemphill comes back from a broken foot and only played 10 minutes.
10-71: Combined NCAA tournament record for current membership in the SWAC and MEAC conferences through Thursday. Both representatives – Texas Southern and Norfolk State – won their opening games. That had never happened in a tournament. « Just unbelievable, » said Jones.
3-0: UCLA’s record in the Mackey Arena. The Bruins helped open the course in 1967 when Boilermaker alum John Wooden Lew brought Alcindor and the boys east and barely won by two points. Now the wooden statue is outside the arena. UCLA coach Mick Cronin looked for it the other day after training but found it difficult to get from A to B in a COVID restricted environment. “Only down certain hallways. There are people with signs who can’t go here, can’t go there, ”said Cronin. « I understand everything. I think we’re done playing here so I’ll have to try to see this statue before I go. «
500: Limited attendance at IU’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. » Honestly, that’s probably most of the people we’ve played in front of all year, « said Jones.
50: It was exactly 50 years since Drake last won an NCAA tournament game. « It’s been a long time, » said coach Darian DeVries after a 53:52 win over Wichita State. « And our boys knew that. » > 31-7: Appalachian State scored a goal against Norfolk State in 13 1/2 minutes in the second half.
3: Michigan State points the final 6:29 against the Bruins, The Spartans went more than seven minutes without taking a shot.
23.0: National leading average win for the undefeated Gonzaga, Norfolk State’s next opponent on Saturday. « We know we play the Lakers of college basketball, » said Jones.
8: Positive test results from Thursday at the NCAA tournament from more than 9,000 tests carried out by players, trainees rn, traveling group members, NCAA staff and local workers.
19,000: Chicken wings are delivered to teams in the Bubble Hotels in one night. And they are hungry for more. After Thursday night, so will the college basketball audience.
Mike Lopresti is a member of the Hall of Fame for American Basketball Writers, the Hall of Fame for Ball State Journalism, and the Hall of Fame for Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters. He has covered college basketball for 43 years, including 39 final fours. He’s so old that he covered Bob Knight when he had dark hair and the basketball shorts were actually short. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.
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