The road to the Final Four for teams in the West Region will run through Phoenix this year and numerous participants were in action on Thursday afternoon to kick off the 2012 NCAA Tournament. With big name schools such as Marquette, Louisville and others in action early today, let's take a look at the winners and losers on a busy day of hoops.
The Eagles controlled this game from the tip and used their athleticism and strong defense to impose their will at both ends of the court. The Cougars looked a little fatigued after playing an exhausting game on Tuesday evening and their shots simply would not go down. They trailed by double digits the entire second half, and despite a late rally to cut the deficit to 11 points, Marquette responded with a big run to close out the game.
The final score of this one isn't really indicative of how the game was played and Louisville dominated from the start. Their tough defense led them in this one and Davidson hit just four of their 19 attempts from behind the arc. The Cardinals used a balanced scoring effort to find their points, as Peyton Siva had 17, Chane Behanan had 14, Kyle Kuric had 13 and Gorgui Dieng added nine.
In what has easily been one of the better games of the day, the Lobos knocked off the 49ers with some stellar defensive play down the stretch. New Mexico held star guard Casper Wear to 17 points on 5-for-19 shooting, including 2-for-9 from behind the arc after hitting 42% of his shots this season. Drew Gordon had a monster game with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Kendall Williams hit big shot after big shot on his way to 16.
It took the Racers a bit to get going, but they came out and dominated the opening minutes of the second half and ended up blowing out the Rams. Isaiah Canaan went off for 15 points despite a mediocre shooting night, while Donte Pool added 13.
Upcoming games on Friday: Michigan State vs. LIU, an intriguing 8-9 game between Memphis and Saint Louis, a 7-10 showdown between Florida and Virginia, and second-seed Mizzou vs. Norfolk State.