The first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament tipped off on Thursday night and the Big Ten had a fantastic showing on day one. All five Big Ten teams in action were able to score wins and will advance to the Round of 32 on Saturday.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-No. 6 Maryland Terrapins 79, No. 11 Belmont Bruins 77
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, this game was largely considered to be one of the more popular upset picks in the entire bracket. Maryland seemed pretty vulnerable after falling flat in the Big Ten Tournament and Belmont came in with plenty of momentum after beating Temple in pretty dominating fashion in the First Four on Tuesday night.
And early on, those folks looked right. Belmont came charging out of the gates and appeared to be in pretty good shape at halftime. But in the second half, Maryland was able to close things down and even after Belmont came back, the Terps were too much and were able to grab a narrow 79-77 win to advance to the Round of 32.
For Maryland, this game has to be a confidence booster. The Terps have struggled at delivering on expectations over the last few years and many were worried that the team would fall flat again. Obviously, that didn’t end up being the case as Maryland beat a pretty trendy team to advance to the next round.
The Terps will now get a pretty difficult matchup on Thursday afternoon against LSU, who’s coming off a win over Yale. The Tigers are the three seed in the East Region and come into the postseason with a pretty impressive resume.
-No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers 86, No. 7 Louisville Cardinals 76
Like the Maryland matchup above, this was a game that many debated this week. Louisville and Minnesota looked relatively even on paper and the question would be whether the good Gophers team would show up, or falter down the stretch. All told, Minnesota came out swinging in this one and never looked back in route to an 86-76 win.
For Minnesota, this was a massive win. The Gophers missed the NCAAs last season and the team’s previous appearance ended with an embarrassing Round of 64 upset. It says a lot about this team and program that it was able to bounce back after those struggles and upset Louisville in the first round.
The Gophers will now prepare for a matchup against Michigan State on Saturday evening. The two teams played once during the regular season with the Spartans coming out on top.
-No. 2 Michigan State Spartans 76, No. 16 Bradley Braves 65
With Michigan State’s performance last weekend in Chicago, few expected this to be a competitive game on Thursday afternoon. And while Bradley put a scare into Spartan fans in the first half, Michigan State was able to take care of business in the second half and grab a 76-65 win to advance to the Round of 32.
Beating a 15 seed is never going to be considered impressive, but it was nice to see Michigan State bounce back after some early struggles. The Spartans will now prepare for a matchup against Minnesota on Saturday evening. The two teams played once during the regular season with the Spartans coming out on top.
-No. 2 Michigan Wolverines 74, No. 15 Montana Grizzlies 55
This game was a bit sloppy on both sides on Thursday night, but Michigan was eventually able to take care of business and grab a 74-55 win over Montana. This is the fourth year in a row that Michigan has won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament.
Like noted for Michigan State above, it’s hard to react much to a win over a 15 seed. Michigan was a substantial favorite coming into this game and delivered. The Wolverines will now prepare for a matchup against Florida on Saturday afternoon.
-No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers 61, No. 14 Old Dominion Monarchs 48
The Big Ten’s last game featured Purdue and Old Dominion in what some were circling as a potential Round of 64 upset. Unfortunately for those folks, Purdue used a first half surge to cruise past Old Dominion and advance to the Round of 32.
With the win, Purdue improved to 24-9 overall and will now face off against Villanova on Saturday night. Though these aren’t your older brother’s Wildcats, they are a talented and experienced squad capable of beating the Boilermakers. It will be interesting to see who ends up coming out on top in that matchup.