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Best of March Madness: Second Round, Day One

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Adreian Payne goes for 41, North Dakota State pulls the 12/5 upset, and how many overtime games?

Best of March Madness: Second Round, Day One

The NCAA Tournament certainly didn't waste any time. Right from the get-go, the first day of the second round was exciting, thrilling, and spectacularly crazy. There were some unbelievable individual performances, some incredible comebacks/collapses, and memorable images. Also four games went into overtime. Let's quickly run through what stood out on the first day of March Madness.

Player of the Day: Adreian Payne, Michigan State Spartans

This is a no-brainer. Payne was a one-man wrecking crew against the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens. As the Blue Hens tried to make things interesting in the first half, Payne stepped up and made some huge threes. He also got to the line early and often. That continued in the second half, as Payne went on to break the NCAA free throw record with a perfect 17-for-17. On the game, Payne finished with an astonishing 41 points on 10-15 shooting (4-5 from three), 17-17 from the line, 8 rebounds, and a block. 

Honorable Mention: Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota St. (28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists; Rob Loe, Saint Louis (22 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists); Shabazz Napier, UConn (24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals)

Upsets of the Day: (11) Dayton over (6) Ohio State and (12) North Dakota State over (5) Oklahoma

I couldn't pick just one because both were so great in their own ways. The Dayton Flyers took on their in-state rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and delivered the first crazy finish of the tournament. After Aaron Craft hit a tough layup to put the Buckeyes up one, Dayton guard Vee Sanford took the ball with under 10 seconds left and banked in a running floater with just under six seconds remaining. Craft nearly got to the basket to steal the victory right back, but he couldn't get a clean look at the basket or draw a foul. Dayton came away with the thrilling 60-59 win.

North Dakota State's win was shocking based on the circumstances. They had led for most of the second half, but Oklahoma stormed back to take a four-point lead with under a minute left. After missing a free throw that would have practically iced the game, North Dakota State got the ball back down three. Taylor Lawrence received a kick out pass behind the arc on the right wing, stepped into the shot with rhythm, and coldly sank the game-tying three. The Bison went on to win in overtime 70-85. 

Most Heartbreaking Loss: N.C. State

N.C. State had no business losing to favored Saint Louis, but their free throw shooting did them in. After going up 16 points with just over eight minutes remaining in the second half, the Billikens started fouling to extend the game after traditional comeback methods failed. The strategy worked beautifully. In the final 3:09, N.C. State went 9-20 from the free throw line while Saint Louis whittled away at the lead to eventually tie the game. The Billikens took it to overtime and eventually slogged out the improbable 83-80 win, but N.C. State is going to really lament all of those missed free throws.

Biggest Onions: Luke Hancock, Louisville Cardinals

Another heavy favorite that was fortunate to escape with a win was fourth-seeded Louisville. They were matched up with the Manhattan Jaspers, basically a miniature version of Louisville's team. Manhattan coach Steve Masiello is a Rick Pitino disciple, and he employs most of Pitino's system. The Jaspers gave the Cardinals plenty of matchup problems and stayed close the entire game, even taking a three-point lead to final TV timeout of the second half.

That's where Luke Hancock stepped in. Last year's Final Four Most Outstanding Player took over, scoring eight of his 16 points in the final two minutes. The first two came after a steal in the back court. Hancock drove and got fouled, then hit both free throws to give Louisville a 62-60 lead. On the next possession, Hancock pump-faked a Manhattan defender out of his shoes, then calmly drained a three to give Louisville a five-point edge. After a Manhattan layup at the other end, Hancock hit yet another three to finally drive the dagger into the heart of the Jaspers.

Defining Images

Aaron Craft after Ohio State's loss (via guyism.com):

Arizona State's after Texas' game-winning buzzer beater (via Bleacher Report):

North Dakota State ready to celebrate (via SI.com):

Check back for more NCAA Tournament updates all tournament long!

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