Thursday is day 1 in N.C.A.A. men's basketball tournament. Follow here for points and live analysis of who wins, who loses and who broke your console.
How to watch: CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV will broadcast the games from noon ET and a live stream available at NCAA.com. (Don't know where to find TruTV? CBS thought you didn't, so they made this user's guide.)
Busy alert: Vermont and Florida State are bound in half time
Minnesota Upsets Louisville, but Not the Common Way
Throughout the drama of Minnesota, Louisville and Pitino's family business, a single statistic was transparent. 19659007] While Rick Pitino's team made his name with an effective 3-point shooter, his son Richard took a Gophers team to the NCAA tournament that had fought behind the bow all season. Minnesota took the court on Thursday ranked 291th in the country in 3-point percent.
And yet, as things unfolded, Minnesota won the Pitino way. Gophers made 11 3-pointers, including five of the streaky shooting beginner Gabe Kalscheur in a 86-76 victory in Des Moines.
Kalscheur (24 points) led five double-digit Gophers and junior guard Amir Coffey added 18 points, three 3-pointers and six rebounds. Dupree McBrayer, Coffey and Kalscheur are combined for five 3-pointers in a stretch of the first half to put Minnesota ahead for good.
Vermont and Florida State tied in the first half
Yup, Catamounts keeps himself in Hartford. Seven 3-pointers (so far) is a big reason why. It's 25-25 with 3:33 left in the first half.
Auburn Up 3 at Halftime
Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl said this week that the closest he had seen all season to New Mexico State was … Auburn.
The Aggies, 30-4 in the unheralded Western athletic conference, cope with what is sometimes a 13-man rotation. But while they can use more players than the tigers, their m.o. is otherwise the same: a small team that relies on breaking down defense from the dribble and coming to the rim or finding good appearance behind the 3-point line.
In half time, the 13-seed New Mexico State does an affordable job of playing with the SEC Tournament Tigers in its own game, surviving a 15-2 race to draw within 32-29 half-time. Auburn can use more production from one of their better players: Guard Bryce Brown is 1 to 7 off the floor; He has missed all four of his 3-point trials. BILLY WITZ
Louisville does not go quietly
A beaten 3-pointer and a layup pulled the cardinals within 7. Minnesota hangs on with the fingernails, but it hangs on.
] UPDATE: The cardinals did not go quiet, but they went. Minnesota wins, 86-76.
Don't look now ….
… but Yales Alex Copeland (17 points) has shot his team back within 9 points by L.S.U.
Less than 12 minutes left.
UPDATE: The management is down to 7 points with eight minutes left. LSU, which had 45 points in the first half, has only 16 since the break.
A Homegrown Aggie plays his part
Johnny McCants plays a big role from the bench for New Mexico State with 7 points that Aggies hangs with Auburn.
McCants is the rare university player from Las Cruces, NM, where New Mexico State – which has a rich basketball history – lies. In fact, Aggies has players from the entire map – Senegal, Spain, Calgary and speck-on-map Durant, Miss. (Its residence Aggie, Shunn Buchanan, confirmed that the city is not Kevin Durant). But McCants is the only player on the active roster who is from New Mexico.
If any expected McCants, a 6-foot 7-sophomore, who plays a prominent role on Thursday, he is among them.
"I grew up, was from Cruces, I never thought I would get this far," he said. BILLY WITZ
The early games open up
L.S.U. quickly extends its advantage over Yale to 17 points in the first few minutes of the second half in Jacksonville. In Des Moines, Minnesota is up 19 at Louisville, 62-43, with 9:32 remaining in the game.
An extremely high order for Vermont
Christ Koumadje in Florida State is 7 feet 4, and the type of player Vermont has probably not seen before. It will get an idea of him in a little bit.
Seth Berkman wrote about Koumadje and an even higher player in this year's field, Central Florida 7-6 Tacko Fall, on Wednesday. Both have worked diligently to improve their games to cope, but will appear in a N.B.A. draft landscapes that – in the age of stretch-5s and 3-point-centered crimes – no longer need a single huge.
Read Seth's story here.
Next Up: New Mexico State Against Auburn
New Mexico State Auburn has just started in Salt Lake City.
New Mexico State Coach Chris Jans has what can best be described as a participating trophy rotation: Everybody plays a bit. The Aggies have 13 players averaging at least 10 minutes a game, but it works: Jan's team won 30 games. "Everyone is a player on our team, so I must always have a chip on my shoulder, like it's my last game to play or something," said guardian Terrell Brown. (Six minutes in Thursday's match, New Mexico State had already used nine players. Five had done so.)
Auburn won 26 games and the Southeast Conference tournament this season, but Bruce Pearl can face many unpleasant issues if the tigers keep progressing in the late season. Pearl, whose history contains problems with the NCAA, had an assistant (Chuck Person) accused in 2017 for his role in Adidas recruitment scandal, and he interrupted a second coach (Ira Bowman) last week after he was involved in a system of selling entry to the University of Pennsylvania when he worked there.
Half time: LSU 45, Yale 29
Too fast, too big, too good. It is the story of the first half in Jacksonville, where L.S.U. has opened a 16-point lead at Yale.
Guard Tremont Waters has been Tigers spark plug; he has 13 points and 6 already helps. But it's ahead Kavell Bigby-Williams who has been the real star with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Half Time: Minnesota 38, Louisville 33
Minnesota, one of the worst three-point shooters in the country, made six of them in the first half and leads Louisville, 38-33, in a matchup that sent with Pitino family drama.
The Richard Pitino-coached Gophers, ranked 291th nationally in 3-point shooting, came back to -back 3s from Dupree McBrayer and Amir Coffey to take a four-point lead past the half-point of the half. The freshman Gabe Kalscheur followed sequentially 3s to Gophers, who shot 50 percent over everything in half and 40 percent behind the bow. Coffey, a 6-8 junior guard, led all scores by 13 points.
Louisville had been trained by Pitino's father Rick until he was fired two years ago. While he missed Thursday – he is now training a pro team in Greece – the cardinals had a celebrity fan behind the bench: actor Bill Murray, whose son Luke is a cardinal assistant coach. PAT BORZI
Gophers, Tigers Off and Running
After trading baskets early, Minnesota went on a 9-1 round to open the 21-17 lead at Louisville with six minutes left in the first half. Amir Coffey leads Gophers with 10 points, and Minnesota also rebounding well.
Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, L.S.U. scored the first 9 points against Yale.
Today's top story line
Gonzaga is the only No. 1 seed scheduled to play Thursday; Zags will meet Fairleigh Dickinson, who won Tuesday's first four-match to open the evening session in Salt Lake City. The other three top seeds – Duke, Virginia and North Carolina – play every Friday.
Looking for some potential disturbances? Marc Tracy of The Times made the case for (and against) six possible bracket-breaking results, including a No. 15 seed playing today.
Syracuse interrupted one of his key players, guarding Frank Howard in the evening for the tournament for an unspecified violation of the law rules. More about the news below from The Times Billy Witz.
A TV Tip Sheet
We're running. If you like college basketball and quick mark montage in and out of commercials, your day just got a lot better.
Don't sleep on Yale
LSU's pretournament woes have been well documented and came to Jacksonville, Fla., From a disappointment at Southeastern Conference Tournament Performance and without their suspended coach, Will Wade. But the tiger's first round of opponents, Yale, can be a tough one anyway.
First: Bulldogs (22-7) can score. They beat Harvard to win the Ivy League tournament by scoring 97 points in the final. The senior guard Alex Copeland had a season high of 25 points that day and he can be very dangerous in the transition.
Second: Yale has some serious talent: Miye Oni, a 6 foot 6 guard, drew dozens of N.B.A. actor for the Ivy League gym this season.
Third: The Bulldogs pulled off an uproar three years ago, in their last appearance in the tournament. That day, Baylor learned that it is risky to look past Yale.
N.C.A.A. Squad that just can't win
What is black and white and worn everywhere? and N.C.A.A. tournament judges.
The judges are in fact the only team that guaranteed to make Final Four every year, but the job will not be easier. They, and officials in a variety of sports, have become leading characters in the passionate game of American sports, from N.F.L. to tennis even the Little League World Series.
Few places can match the high pressure 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 talk to reporters on Wednesday afternoon in Salt Lake City, he took a deep breath, let a long breath out and stepped into the TV lights on the back
Syracuse had just announced that the senior scoring guard Frank Howard had been suspended "indefinitely" and would not play in Thursday's first round of the West Regional match against Baylor.
"Very difficult to make that change now," Boeheim said.
Boeheim knows this from experience. In 2012, Fab Melo, then the 1st-seed orange's start center, was academically incompatible just before the tournament. In 2005, two reserves for failed drug tests were interrupted shortly before Syracuse's first match; Orange was upset by the 13th seeded Vermont that year.
The loss of Howard is significant. He has a team of 84 assisting and had played well lately and scored 28 points in an A.C.C. tournament loss to Duke – a game where he seemed to try to travel the Duke of Zion Williamson.
Boeheim wouldn't say if Howard could return on Saturday about 8th seed Syracuse goes on. In his place, Orange will start beginner Buddy Boeheim, the coach's son. BILLY WITZ