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March Madness: Day 1 Evening Games

By hagrin - Posted on 17 March 2007

The Day 1 night games, outside of the Duke game were chalk central as the favorites took care of business and were able to "survive and advance".

Vanderbilt took on George Washington during the non-televised game here on the East Coast and it was probably a good thing for GW fans as Vandy lit up the night sky with threes and GW failed to set their alarm clocks and got run off the floor. As I watched the game online through CBS Sportsline, I couldn't believe that this was a 6v11 game and not a 1v16. Vandy just dominated GW in every way and should prove to be an interesting match up against the contrasting style of Washington State.

Ohio State raced to a 21 point halftime lead and never looked back as they wiped the floor with Central Connecticut State. Greg Oden was a man amongst boys as he pulled down 19 points and 10 rebounds and altered numerous shots in the lane during the first half. Again, there really wasn't much to report on in this game as this way a blowout from the opening whistle.

Michigan State, the 9 seed, provided a mild seed upset as they were able to build a 13 point first half lead and hold off a shorthanded Marquette team 61-49. The key for MSU was that they got very balanced scoring and it wasn't just the Drew Neitzel show. With double digit scoring from 3 separate players, MSU, who struggles to score, got enough offense and a supreme defensive effort to shutdown a Jekyll and Hyde Marquette team.

UCLA vs. Weber State was another snooze fest as UCLA won by an impressive 28 points against probably the toughest of the 15 seeds. Aaron Afflalo dropped 22 points and had 8 rebounds which is a great sign from the Bruins best perimeter scorer. More importantly, injured Nick Collison played 32 strong minutes and shot well from the field which bodes well for UCLA having shaken off their unimpressive first round exit in the Pac-10 tournament.

In the other 79-77 game of the night, Xavier, out of the A-10, protected the conference's honor and held off a very game BYU team. BYU got a 24 point effort from Keena Young, but it wasn't enough to outmatch the 17 points from Drew Lavender and 23 from Doellman. Xavier will be matched up in the sexiest 1v(lower seed) match up with in-state rival Ohio State. The end of the game was another example of how you can win close games in the tournament these days with a guard who can penetrate and create his own shot which is what Drew Lavender could do that BYU could not. The dribble penetration was a huge factor in the last 2-3 minutes in the game and we've seen it time and time again in these close NCAA March Madness tournament games.

In what was a revenge game for Indiana, the Hoosiers were able to beat a depleted Gonzaga team and come away with a 70-57 victory. The key to this game was getting the strong scoring production from a third option, in this case, Wilmont for Indiana. Wilmont has 22 points and 7 rebounds which helped supplement DJ White's 16 and Calloway's 11. Gonzaga shot very poorly from the field only hitting on 35% of their shots and getting a putrid performance from Pargo (who shaved his own last name into his head) where he went 1-7 from the field. UCLA should have no problem with Indiana, but if Indiana gets scoring from 3 players, they could be hard to beat.

Eastern Kentucky gave UNC a scare for about a half, but UNC was never really in trouble in a relatively easy 86-65 win. The most important stat from this game is the performance turned in by Tyler Hansbrough who scored 21 and grabbed 10 rebounds for his best game since wearing the mask. With Tyler-like efforts, UNC has a very good chance to advance through their bracket, past Michigan State and on to a potential meeting with Georgetown.

In the last game of the night, Pittsburgh beat up a smaller Wright State team 79-58. Again, like many of the first day games, this was a major snooze fest as Wright State forgot what time the game started and were down 13-0 within a matter of minutes. Pittsburgh got double digit points from 5 players and shot a blistering 54.5% from the field while holding Wright State to 33%.