Recapping Day 1 NCAA Tournament action in Orlando

Kim Klement/USA TODAY

I am still recovering from Thursday's marathon at the Amway Center. The great thing about the NCAA Tournament is that it is four games of just nonstop action.

And the games in Orlando did not disappoint, not in the least.

The evening session did not end until about 12:45 a.m. and I did not leave Amway Center until close to 2 a.m. So we are all taking a deep breath as we enjoy this afternoon and evening's conclusion to the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament. 

I am working on a few posts with a Magic angle. The majority of my coverage from the NCAA Tournament in Orlando can be found over at Bloguin's college basketball blog, Run The Floor. Matt Zemek and the crew over there have done a great job covering the Tournament so far. Be sure to follow them during the next three weekends.

I was very busy the last few days helping out.

With the Tennessee game coming up, Tobias Harris' Volunteers provide the last chance for a First Four winner to reach the third round with back-to-back wins. Both Albany and NC State came close to winning in Orlando and showed that playing that first game earlier in the week was no disadvantage.

The game of the night in Orlando was probably the night cap between Manhattan and Louisville. The game was played within tight margins and the lead went back and forth late in the second half before Luke Hancock scored eight points in the final minute and a half to help Louisville survive.

The game was interesting because Manhattan and Louisville were mirror images of each other quite litterally. Jaspers coach Steve Masiello grew up under Rick Pitino's wing and was an assistant at Kentucky and Louisville with Pitino. They played the same style and that made for some entertaining basketball. Manhattan played well enough to win but made some key mistakes down the stretch.

The day stated with arguably the biggest blowout of the day in the Tournament. Eighth-seeded Colorado was absolutely demolished and probably should not have even bothered to show up. That would have saved the embarrassment. Pittsburgh was dominant defensively and suffocated Colorado throughout.

The Panthers will get the top-seeded Gators in the third round after the Gators had to fight tooth and nail for a win over the Great Danes of Albany. Billy Donovan and his team expressed severe disappointment in the way they played with Donovan calling it a low moment for the team in its preparations for the rest of the Tournament. Albany certainly came to win.

That sets up an interesting matchup in the opener Saturday at 12:15 p.m. between Florida and Pittsburgh.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Andy Hutchins of Alligator Army and with Jesse Irwin of Cardiac Hill to preview their team's trips to Orlando. Seems like it gets extended for two more days with the matchup on Saturday.

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The Cardinals will face the Billikens in the second game Saturday at approximately 2:45 p.m. Saint Louis trailed by eight points with about a minute and a half left and by 16 with eight minutes left in the game. But NC State proceeded to miss free throw after free throw in the final moments of the game. That allowed Jordaire Jett to lead Saint Louis back and for Rob Loe to finish off an overtime victory in the craziest (frustrating) game of the evening.

So the schedule at Amway Center on Saturday afternoon has top overall seed Florida playing ninth-seeded Pittsburgh at 12:15 p.m. That game will be followed by fifth-seeded Saint Louis facing off against the defending national champions from Louisville.

Enjoy the games, and, remember, watch out for Billikens:

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily