March 31, 2023
Paladins break UVA's heart;  playing Sasser will haunt Houston

Paladins break UVA’s heart; playing Sasser will haunt Houston

And now, finally, an answer to one of the biggest questions as the NCAA men’s tournament kicked off on Thursday: What the heck is a paladin?

Turns out he’s a heartbreaker. Specifically, he’s a heartthrob for the Virginia Cavaliers.

In all seriousness, a paladin is a knight, often known for his honor and heroism.

Maybe they should also get credit for a good defense.

Furman’s 13th-seeded Paladins stole the show on Day 1, beating No.4-seeded Virginia 68-67 in a wild finish that gave us our first major upset of the day. A couple of hours later, No. 15 seed Princeton joined the party, upsetting No. 2 seed Arizona.

This is what we want on the first day of Madness: supports break across the country and double-digit seeds shock everyone (except themselves, at least if you’re Princeton).

MEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Full 2023 NCAA Men’s Tournament Schedule, Results, and Schedule

But other top seeds looked dominant, which is what they’re supposed to look like, especially in their first-round games. It all comes together to provide an intriguing second round. But first, we have one more full day of first-round games, which may lead to even more chaos.

For now, these are the winners and losers from Day 1.

Furman Paladins guard Marcus Foster celebrates after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday.



There’s nothing like a surprise – or two!

First, in the Virginia-Furman game, the Paladins’ smothering, trapping defense sent Virginia senior Kihei Clark into a panic, and he threw a dangerous cross ball in the final seconds of the game. That pass was intercepted by Furman’s Garrett Hien, who kicked it to JP Pegues, who had missed all three of his previous attempts from long range. Pegues buried the 3rd quietly to go up 68-67. After a timeout, Virginia’s game-winning attempt was called off.

Then at Arizona-Princeton, the Wildcats froze from the field in the final 4:43 (0-of-7) as Princeton pulled off an improbable 59-55 upset. Arizona missed numerous shots in the closing minutes that could have earned it, and Princeton froze the win with free throws. It is the third year in a row that a 15 beats a 2.


Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half and looking sleepy in the first game of the day, the Terrapins rallied behind 17 points and nine rebounds from second-year forward Julian Reese, beating West Virginia 67-65. The win advanced Maryland to the second round, where the Terps will face No. 1 overall seed Alabama. In a back-and-forth fight, the game featured nine ties and 11 lead changes, points in the paint (34-24 Maryland) the difference.

The Terps will have to start and play a lot better to compete with the Tide on Saturday, but getting a win and coming from behind should give them confidence. This is especially important when you consider how poorly Maryland has been on the road (5-11 as of Thursday) this season.

University of California at Los Angeles

A look at the dominance of the No. 2 seed Bruins on Thursday: At one point late in the first half, UCLA had more shots made (16) than UNC Asheville attempted (15). That didn’t end up being the case in the end, but it was still an impressive 86-53 blitz. The Bruins scored 30 points on Asheville turnovers and dominated the boards 40-25. All five starters scored 10 or more points, except Tyger Campbell, who had seven points but dished out 10 assists.


On a tough day for the ACC (see Virginia), the Blue Devils were never challenged in their 74-51 win over Oral Roberts. One of the best teams in the country the final weeks of the regular season, the Blue Devils shot 48.4% from the field and dominated the rebounding battle (46-32). Led by Jeremy Roach’s 23 points (on just 17 shots), Duke advances to play fourth-seeded Tennessee on Saturday.


brandon miller

The best freshman in the country, and perhaps the best player in the country, had a difficult first NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-9 forward, a likely NBA lottery pick despite the controversy surrounding him, went 0-for-5 from the field in 19 minutes of play, finishing with five rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. of ball. The overall No. 1 seed still managed a win without him, but Miller’s play will be pivotal going forward.

Offensive buffs

Man alive, there was a horrible shooting on Thursday. A staggering 19 of 32 teams in action shot 43% or less from the field, with 11 teams shooting below 40%, and some of those teams won! None were worse than Northern Kentucky, who shot 27.5% from the field.

Teams missed easy shots, took bad shots, and missed all kinds of shots badly. Defending is excellent, but so is watching the ball go through the net. Here’s hoping Friday games are nicer overall.


Sure, the No. 1 seeded Cougars won 63-52. But the decision to play American guard Marcus Sasser just days after he suffered a serious groin injury will be questioned by all, and rightly so.

Sasser, who was originally injured in the AAC tournament semifinals last week, is key to the Cougars’ title hopes. After reinjuring himself in the first half against Northern Kentucky, he didn’t make the field in the second half. Did the Cougars cost themselves?


Trivia Time: What Happened to Virginia Basketball on March 16? If you said “they made history”, you would be right. It wasn’t the good kind of story, and this year, history repeated itself. This is turning out to be a damn date for UVA.

On March 16, 2018, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16th seed in the Men’s NCAA Tournament. Five years to the day, UVA once again ruined a match in which they were clear favourites. The worst is how it happened. Tony Bennett’s teams are usually disciplined and smart, so losing to an extremely dumb pass is tough.

Virginia hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since the 2019 title race, having lost twice in the first round since then.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NCAA Tournament winners and losers: UVA in misery, Houston in trouble

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