No Shockers on Day One

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2009 7:32 AM CDT
No Shockers on Day One
Western Kentucky forward Steffphon Pettigrew, right, shoots over Illinois' Dominique Keller. Pettigrew scored 17 points to lead Western Kentucky past Illinois 76-72, in yesterday's one notable upset.   (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

It was a disappointingly sane opening to March Madness yesterday, writes ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. Only four out of the 16 games were won by the lower seeds, and only one of those—12-seed Western Kentucky over 5-seed Illinois—approached headline status. Top seeds UNC and UConn rolled, with UConn scoring the third-largest rout ever, despite the last-minute hospitalization of coach Jim Calhoun, who was being treated for dehydration.

The most exciting games were actually the upsets that nearly happened. Memphis, which had complained that it deserved a top seed, found itself down 6 points to 15-seed Cal State with 10 minutes to play. Third-seeded Villanova trailed by a whopping 10 at the half, and Gonzaga needed a 19-1 run to beat Akron. Most epic of all was the UCLA/Virginia Commonwealth tilt, in which VCU missed a 17-foot buzzer shot to fall 65-64. (More 2009 NCAA Tournament stories.)

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