N.C.A.A. Men’s Tournament Live Updates: Louisville Falls; Auburn Escapes
Thursday is Day 1 of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament. Follow here for scores and live analysis of who wins, who loses and who broke your bracket.
How to watch: CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV will broadcast the games starting at noon ET, and a livestream is available at NCAA.com. (Don’t know where to find TruTV? CBS figured you didn’t, so they made this helpful guide.)
A Quick Look at the Other Games
Florida State has opened a 10-point lead over Vermont with less than a minute left.
Belmont, a No. 11 seed, leads Maryland, a No. 6, at halftime, 40-34.
No. 2 Michigan State turned the ball over on its final possession of the first half and trails Bradley, 35-34, at the break.
New Mexico State, inbounding the ball under the Auburn basket with 1.1 seconds left, somehow stumbles into an open 3-pointer in the corner. But Queen’s rushed shot is an airball, and that’s that.
Auburn lives, 78-77.
Whew. What a finish. Best of the day so far. But not one Auburn will be especially proud of, no matter what Coach Bruce Pearl told his team.
“You won the basketball game,” he said in the locker room afterward. “They didn’t lose it.”
A Lifeline for the Aggies!
Auburn goes 1 for 2 at the line, and New Mexico State rushes the ball upcourt with six seconds left. Eschewing an open layup — and overtime — for a Terrell Brown 3-point attempt. Auburn, for some reason, FOULS HIM!
Brown missed the first attempt, made the second, missed the third on purpose — but the rebound goes out of bounds and New Mexico State will get one final chance!!
Auburn alum Charles Barkley, watching in the studio, is not handling the tension well.
New Mexico State Is Throwing a Real Scare Into Auburn
New Mexico State is scaring the heck out of Auburn. After forcing a turnover, Trevelin Queen hit a deeeeeep 3-pointer from the left wing to cut the Tigers’ lead to 1 in the final minute, but two Auburn free throws — and one N.M.S.U. miss at the other end — seemed to be the cushion No. 5-seeded Auburn needed to escape.
But New Mexico State just hit another 3 to cut the lead back to 1 with 6.8 seconds left.
Nervous moments coming up.
Michigan State Is Finding Its Footing
No one player is doing it all, but Michigan State has dragged itself out of an early hole against Bradley and now leads midway through the first half, 20-18.
Catamounts Nearly Perfect in the First Half
This is something like the Super Bowl for Vermont fans, a couple thousand of whom seem to have poured into Hartford from the north like so much maple syrup. They had cause to be excited through one half.
Stef Smith, a sophomore guard from Ontario, led the Catamounts with 7 points. Florida State’s first-half star was Mfiondu Kabengele, who also had 7 points via some sweet footwork down low.
The Seminoles entered on a hot streak, having gone 14-2 in their last 16 games, with the only losses coming to the top seeds North Carolina and Duke. But they are without Phil Cofer, a fireplug redshirt senior, who could be seen sitting on the bench with a walking boot.
The downside for Vermont, which defeated Maryland-Baltimore County in the America East final, is that it played basically a perfect first half: Vermont made more than half of their shots from deep and even outrebounded the Seminoles, who are one of the longest teams in the country. MARC TRACY
Michigan State’s Injured List
Michigan State swingman Kyle Ahrens occasionally dribbled a basketball while watching the Spartans practice without him Wednesday in Des Moines, his left ankle in a high gray walking boot — or, more accurately, a limping boot. Ahrens grotesquely turned his ankle coming down with a rebound Sunday in Michigan State’s 65-60 victory over Michigan in the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship. Ahrens, a reserve who plays about 19 minutes a game, most likely is out for the N.C.A.A. Tournament.
“We’re adjusting without Kyle,” Coach Tom Izzo said. “He’s with us, but he’s dragging a damn boot round instead of tennis shoes.”
Ahrens hobbled around the periphery on his own, unlike another injured Spartan, Joshua Langford. Out for the season after left foot surgery Jan. 30, Langford rolled himself on a four-wheeled, nonmotorized scooter while wearing the same style boot on his left foot and ankle.
The Spartans fell behind Bradley in the opening minutes of their first-round game against Bradley, but it’s still very early. PAT BORZI
Yale Runs Out of Time, and L.S.U. Advances
The Bulldogs, who trailed by 9-0 and by 16 points at halftime, could not come all the way back against L.S.U., which made enough free throws down the stretch to win, 79-74.
Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 19 points, and Kavell Bigby-Williams (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Naz Reid (14 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
What looked as if it would be a romp in this matchup of universities tainted by separate scandals in recent weeks became a taut affair in the waning minutes, as the 13th-seeded Bulldogs whittled an 18-point deficit to as few as 3 points before the No. 5 Tigers escaped.
L.S.U. overcame the absence of its coach, Will Wade, who is suspended after he was connected to a recruiting scandal, with balanced scoring. Yale featured one of Division I’s better offenses, ranking ninth in field-goal percentage, but the Bulldogs’ poor shooting doomed them. They shot 37.5 percent over all and, until drilling four in the final minute, made only four of their first 30 3-point attempts.
Alex Copeland paced Yale, whose athletic department was drawn into a massive admissions fraud scandal last week, with 24 points. BEN SHPIGEL
Upset Alert: Vermont and Florida State Are Tied at Halftime
The Catamounts shot 7 for 13 on 3-pointers in the half and outrebounded the Seminoles, 20-18.
Minnesota Upsets Louisville, but Not The Usual Way
Amid all the drama over Minnesota, Louisville and Pitino family business, one telling statistic was easily overlooked.
While Rick Pitino’s teams made their name with effective 3-point shooting, his son Richard brought a Gophers team to the N.C.A.A. tournament that had struggled behind the arc all season. Minnesota took the court Thursday ranked 291st in the country in 3-point percentage.
And yet, as things unfolded, Minnesota won in the most Pitino way. The Gophers made 11 3-pointers, including five by the streaky-shooting freshman Gabe Kalscheur, in an 86-76 victory in Des Moines.
Kalscheur (24 points) led five Gophers in double figures, and the junior guard Amir Coffey added 18 points, three 3-pointers and six rebounds. Dupree McBrayer, Coffey and Kalscheur combined for five 3-pointers in one stretch of the first half to put Minnesota in front for good.
Auburn Up 3 at Halftime
Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl said this week that the closest thing he’d seen all season to New Mexico State was … Auburn.
The Aggies, 30-4 in the unheralded Western Athletic Conference, get by with what is sometimes a 13-man rotation. But while they may use more players than the Tigers, their m.o. is otherwise similar: a smallish team that relies on breaking down defenses off the dribble and getting to the rim or finding good looks from behind the 3-point line.
At halftime, 13th-seeded New Mexico State is doing a commendable job of playing with the SEC tournament champion Tigers at their own game, surviving a 15-2 run to pull within 32-29 at halftime. Auburn could use more production from one of their better players: guard Bryce Brown is 1 for 7 from the floor; he has missed all four of his 3-point attempts. BILLY WITZ
Louisville Isn’t Going Quietly
A banked 3-pointer and a layup pulled the Cardinals within 7. Minnesota is hanging on by its finger nails, but it’s hanging on.
UPDATE: The Cardinals didn’t go quietly, but they went. Minnesota wins, 86-76.
Don’t Look Now …
… but Yale’s Alex Copeland (17 points) has shot his team back within 9 points of L.S.U.
Less than 12 minutes left.
UPDATE: The lead is down to 7 points with eight minutes left. L.S.U., which had 45 points in the first half, has only 16 since the break.
An Extremely Tall Order for Vermont
Christ Koumadje of Florida State is 7-foot-4, and the kind of player Vermont likely has not seen before. It will get an up-close look at him in a little bit.
Seth Berkman wrote about Koumadje and an even taller player in this year’s field, Central Florida’s 7-6 Tacko Fall, on Wednesday. Both have worked diligently to improve their games to get ready but will emerge into an N.B.A. draft landscape that — in the age of stretch-5s and 3-point-centered offenses — no longer has a need for the merely enormous.
Read Seth’s story here.
Next Up: New Mexico State Against Auburn
New Mexico State-Auburn just got underway in Salt Lake City.
New Mexico State Coach Chris Jans has what might best be described as a participation-trophy rotation: Everybody plays a little bit. The Aggies have 13 players who average at least 10 minutes a game, but it’s working: Jans’s team won 30 games. “Everybody is a player on our team, so I always have to have a chip on my shoulder, like it’s my last game playing or something,” guard Terrell Brown said. (Six minutes into Thursday’s game, New Mexico State already had used nine players. Five had scored.)
Auburn won 26 games and the Southeastern Conference tournament this season, but Bruce Pearl may face a lot of uncomfortable questions if the Tigers keep advancing in the postseason. Pearl, whose history includes trouble with the N.C.A.A., had an assistant (Chuck Person) indicted in 2017 for his role in the Adidas recruiting scandal, and he suspended a second coach (Ira Bowman) last week after he was implicated in a scheme to sell admission to the University of Pennsylvania when he worked there.
Halftime: L.S.U. 45, Yale 29
Too quick, too big, too good. That’s the story of the first half in Jacksonville, where L.S.U. has opened a 16-point lead on Yale.
Guard Tremont Waters has been the Tigers’ sparkplug; he has 13 points and 6 assists already. But it is forward Kavell Bigby-Williams who has been the real star with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Halftime: Minnesota 38, Louisville 33
Minnesota, one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country, made six of them in the first half and leads Louisville, 38-33, in a matchup oozing with Pitino family drama.
The Richard Pitino-coached Gophers, ranked 291st nationally in 3-point shooting, got back-to-back 3s from Dupree McBrayer and Amir Coffey to take a four-point lead past the midpoint of the half. The freshman Gabe Kalscheur added consecutive 3s later for the Gophers, who shot 50 percent over all in the half and 40 percent from behind the arc. Coffey, a 6-8 junior guard, led all scorers with 13 points.
Louisville had been coached by Pitino’s father, Rick, until he was fired two years ago. While he was missing Thursday — he now coaches a pro team in Greece — the Cardinals had a celebrity fan behind the bench: the actor Bill Murray, whose son Luke is a Cardinals assistant coach. PAT BORZI
Gophers, Tigers Off and Running
After trading baskets early, Minnesota went on a 9-1 run to open a 21-17 lead on Louisville with six minutes left in the first half. Amir Coffey leads the Gophers with 10 points, and Minnesota is rebounding well, too.
Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, L.S.U. scored the first 9 points against Yale.
Today’s Top Story Lines
Gonzaga is the only No. 1 seed scheduled to play Thursday; the Zags will face Fairleigh Dickinson, which won a First Four game on Tuesday, to open the night session in Salt Lake City. The other three top seeds — Duke, Virginia and North Carolina — all play Friday.
Looking for some potential upsets? Marc Tracy of The Times made the case for (and against) six possible bracket-busting results, including a No. 15 seed that plays today.
Syracuse suspended one of its key players, guard Frank Howard, on the eve of the tournament for an unspecified violation of team rules. More on the news below from The Times’s Billy Witz.
A TV Tip Sheet
We’re under way. If you like college basketball and quick-cut highlight montages into and out of commercials, your day just got a LOT better.
The N.C.A.A. Squad That Just Can’t Win
What’s black and white and tread all over? An N.C.A.A. tournament referee.
The referees, in fact, are the only one team guaranteed to make the Final Four every year, but the job isn’t getting any easier. They, and officials in a variety of sports, have become leading characters in the passion play of American sports, from the N.F.L. to tennis to even the Little League World Series.
Few places can match the high-speed pressure cooker of a college basketball arena, where the abuse comes from well-paid college coaches who scream and shout and preen, and from fans who follow their lead.
Read John Branch’s article about the officials here.
Syracuse Suspends Guard Frank Howard
When Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim sat down to speak with reporters on Wednesday afternoon in Salt Lake City, he took a deep breath, let out a long exhale and squinted into the T.V. lights at the back of the interview room, as if to say, “not again.”
Syracuse had just announced that the senior point guard Frank Howard had been suspended “for an indefinite period of time” and would not play in Thursday’s first-round West Regional game against Baylor.
“Very difficult to make that change now,” Boeheim said.
Boeheim knows this from experience. In 2012, Fab Melo, then the No. 1-seeded Orange’s starting center, was declared academically ineligible just before the tournament. In 2005, two reserves were suspended for failing drug tests just before Syracuse’s first game; the Orange were upset by 13th-seeded Vermont that year.
The loss of Howard is significant. He has a team-high 84 assists and had been playing well lately, scoring 28 points in an A.C.C. tournament loss to Duke — a game in which he appeared to try to trip the Duke star Zion Williamson.
Boeheim would not say if Howard could return on Saturday if eighth-seeded Syracuse advances. In his place, the Orange is likely to start freshman Buddy Boeheim, the coach’s son. BILLY WITZ