Less than 12 hours removed from the culmination of an entertaining First Four games, the 2021 men’s NCAA Tournament formally began Friday.
No. 1 seeds Baylor and Illinois will be in action later in the afternoon, with other intriguing matchups sprinkled throughout, in the first true day of March Madness in nearly two years. And if Friday’s games rival the First Four in terms of down-to-the-wire finishes and drama, college basketball fans will be in for a real treat.
Follow along from the first tip to the final buzzer for the latest updates, reaction and analysis from USA TODAY Network reporters, editors and columnists.
West Virginia runs away from Morehead State
West Virginia pulled away fully from Morehead State in the second half to advance with a 84-67 win. Miles McBride led the way for the Mountaineers with 30 points.
The victory was the 900th of WVU coach Bob Huggins’ career.
Villanova fights off Winthrop
The Wildcats got a good challenge from the Eagles but proved in to the end to be too much for the No. 12 seed in a 73-63 victory. Villanova has not lost its first NCAA Tournament game since 2013.
Syracuse moves on
Buddy Boeheim was brilliant, scoring 30 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including a 7-for-10 mark from 3-point range. His efforts helped the No. 11-seeded Orange cruise past Mountain West champion San Diego State, 78-62.
Rutgers gets breakthrough win
No. 10 Rutgers downed No. 7 Clemson 60-56 in a back-and-forth contest in the Midwest Region. The victory was the Scarlet Knights’ first in the NCAA Tournament since 1983.
Caleb McConnell, Jacob Young and Geo Baker all scored 13 points for Rutgers and Ron Harper Jr. joined them in double-digits with 10 points.
WVU could earn Bob Huggins his 900th win
No. 3 seed West Virginia entered halftime against No. 14 Morehead State with a 38-31 lead. A victory by the Mountaineers would mark the 900th win in Huggins’ distinguished coaching career.
Villanova in close game
The No. 5 Wildcats lead feisty Winthrop 34-33 at halftime. Will we see yet another big first-round upset?
Syracuse takes big lead into halftime vs. SDSU
No. 11 seed Syracuse is eyeing an upset after hitting halftime with a 32-18 lead on San Diego State. Buddy Boeheim, son of Orange coach Jim Boeheim, is leading the way with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The Aztecs are shooting just 22.6% from the field.
Clemson leads Rutgers by 3 at half
At the end of a back-and-forth first half, Clyde Trapp raced the length of the floor for a buzzer-beater layup to put the seventh-seeded Tigers up 26-23. The Scarlet Knights are 2 of 13 from deep.
North Texas upsets Purdue
FINAL: No. 13 North Texas 78, No. 4 Purdue 69
RECAP:North Texas ousts Purdue in OT for bracket-busting upset
One day, three overtimes. Oh how we missed you, March Madness. This result brought the third major upset of the day; Oral Roberts knocked off Ohio State, while Oregon State defeated Tennessee.
The Mean Green outscored the Boilermakers 15-8 in the overtime to complete the upset. Javion Hamlet scored 20 points with 11 rebounds and five assists.
Cougars crush Cleveland State
FINAL: Houston 87, Cleveland State 56
Unlike fellow two-seed Ohio State, which lost via a remarkable upset by Oral Roberts, Houston had little trouble in its first-round matchup, dispatching the Vikings with ease. Quentin Grimes paced Houston with a team-high 18 points and dished out four assists.
Badgers breeze by Tar Heels
FINAL: Wisconsin 85, North Carolina 62
Not many people saw this coming, as the Badgers blew out the Tar Heels in somewhat shocking fashion.
Wisconsin had been inconsistent on offense all season, but the Badgers found their stroke on Friday, going 13-for-27 from deep as a team. It was Roy Williams’ first career loss in the Round of 64 and the Tar Heels’ earliest tournament exit since 1999.
Wisconsin’s Brad Davison led all players with 29 points.
Oklahoma State skates by Liberty
FINAL: No. 4 Oklahoma State 69, No. 13 Liberty 60
The final margin showed a nine-point victory for the Cowboys over No. 13 seeded Liberty, which couldn’t hold onto a halftime lead. Cade Cunningham began making things happen in the second half, got to the free throw line and finished with 15 points.