1 important thing to note from each of the 67 March Madness games in 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It ended with no question about the identity of the best team. Some NCAA Tournaments you could say, play it five times and there might be five different winners. Not this one.

It ended with Connecticut on top of the world of men’s college basketball. Way, way at the top. “This was our goal from day 1,” Cam Spencer said Monday night.

But it took 67 moments of decision to get there, some compelling, some surprising, some decisive, some runaways. all of them with a sense of finality for the loser. It was not a tournament laden with great finishes. Of the 67 games, 42 were decided by double figures. The national champions had something to do with that, since the Huskies’ closest call in six victories was 14 points. The Final Four’s tightest ending in three games was 13. That hadn’t happened since 2006. It was a coronation more than drama.

And yet there were unforgettable moments because there always are. The road to Dan Hurley waving the championship net Monday night . . .


Wagner 71, Howard 68.

Wagner had only seven healthy players the second half of the season and its last live practice had been late December. The Seahawks still found a way, shooting 52.7 percent with three starters going 40 minutes.

Colorado State 67, Virginia 42.

Virginia trailed only 14-12 midway through the first half. Then the Cavaliers missed their next 19 shots and went more than 12 minutes without a point. Yeah, that’d do it. Virginia has not won a tournament game since its 2019 national championship, losing to three double-digit seeds. The Cavaliers’ ugly demise did not exactly validate their at-large bid, as leftouts Seton Hall and Indiana State put on scintillating NIT runs.

Grambling State 88, Montana State 81 OT.

Grambling reserve guard Jimel Cofer had scored only 65 points all season. But his time had come in March. He put in 19 after halftime to help get the Tigers a victory in their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Colorado 60, Boise State 53.

Boise State wanted so much to do something about that 0-9 all-time record in the tournament. But shooting 34 percent and missing 16 of 18 from beyond the arc wasn’t going to do it.


North Carolina 90, Wagner 62.

Armando Bacot had his 86th career double-double by halftime and the Tar Heels rolled in Charlotte to go 35-2 in their home state in NCAA Tournament games.

Arizona 85, Long Beach State 65.

For the NCAA-leading 19th time this season, Arizona had five players score in double figures. Fired Long Beach State coach Dan Monson blew kisses to the crowd as he left the court for the last time as Beach coach. Certainly, that made One Shining Moment.

Iowa State 82, South Dakota State 65.

The Cyclones breezed with 23 assists as T.J. Otzelberger coached against his former program that he once took to two NCAA Tournaments.

Tennessee 83, Saint Peter’s 49.

Dalton Knecht scored 23 points in his first NCAA Tournament game as a Vol. Rick Barnes’ 200th win at Tennessee made him the 19th coach to hit 200 at two different Division I schools.

Creighton 77, Akron 60.

The Bluejays did not get one point off the bench. It didn’t matter much as all five starters scored in double figures.

Top dunks from Friday’s first round

Illinois 85, Morehead State 69.

Marcus Domask produced only the 10th official triple-double in NCAA Tournament history with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Oakland 80, Kentucky 76.

World, meet Jack Gohlke. The Oakland reserve came off the bench to score 32 points – 30 of them from 10 3-pointers – and send Kentucky crashing from the bracket. The Wildcats have now won only one tournament game this decade. Turned out, it was John Calipari’s last game at Kentucky. Gohlke was one of the tournament’s unexpected faces, and the guy most likely to beat Caitlin Clark in a game of Horse.

Kansas 93, Samford 89.

Hunter Dickinson returned from a dislocated shoulder to put up 19 points and 20 rebounds, but it took a controversial foul call against Samford to finally get the Jayhawks through. They’re now 37-2 in first round games since 1981.

🎥. Check out 2024’s One Shining Moment

Gonzaga 86, McNeese 65.

How to quickly take the steam out of an upset threat: Make eight of 11 from beyond the arc and lead 48-25 at halftime.

Duquesne 71, BYU 67.

The Dukes blew a 14-point lead in the second half but regrouped in time for their first tournament win in 55 years.

Oregon 87, South Carolina 73.

Was this any way for Jermaine Couisnard to say hello to his old program? Couisnard threw 40 points at his former South Carolina team and Dana Altman went to 8-0 at Oregon in first-round games.

North Carolina State 80, Texas Tech 67.

Who could have imagined the run this was starting? The Wolfpack must like PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. This victory was there. They hadn’t won a tournament game since 2015. That one was there, too.

Dayton 63, Nevada 60.

Dayton trailed by 17 points with 7:15 to go. Then the world did a flip-flop. The Flyers went on a 24-4 run to sweep past Nevada.

Texas 56, Colorado State 44.

Remember how Colorado State held Virginia to 14 points in the first half in the First Four? What goes around comes around. The Rams trailed this one at halftime 27-11, missing 17 of 18 shots in one stretch.

Washington State 66, Drake 61.

Timing is everything. Isaiah Watts, who had not made a 3-pointer in nearly three games, found the range with 1:51 left put the Cougars in front to stay.

Michigan State 69, Mississippi State 51.

The Spartans, who started the season 2-for-31 from the 3-point arc in their first two games, hit 10 of 23 against the Bulldog to make Tom Izzo 20-6 in the first round.

Connecticut 91, Stetson 52.

And so it began, as the Huskies won their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament game by double figures. There would be more to come.

Purdue 78, Grambling State 50.

Fairleigh Who? One year after infamously losing to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, the Boilermakers left no doubt about any repeat. Zach Edey made sure of that with 30 points and 21 rebounds.

Houston 86, Longwood 46.

Longwood had 14 field goals – and 18 turnovers. It was 43-16 at half. The Cougars defense appeared March ready.

Marquette 87, Western Kentucky 69.

Marquette trailed by seven points at halftime but it was a mirage. Tyler Kolek came back from an oblique injury to remind everyone he was the nation’s leader in assists, handing out 11 of them.

Baylor 92, Colgate 67.

Colgate came in 11th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 63 points a game and nobody in the 70s since Jan. 13. Baylor led 54-34 at halftime.

Yale 78, Auburn 76.

Princeton over Arizona in the first round last year, Yale over Auburn this year, rallying from 10 points down. These Ivy League teams are starting to be real pests. The last SEC team to lose to Yale was LSU more than a half-century ago, when the Tigers guard was Pete Maravich.

Duke 64, Vermont 47.

Duke held Vermont 25 points under its scoring average to go 32-3 in first-round games. That wasn’t unusual. In only five of the Blue Devils’ first 33 games did their opponent reach its average.

Duke vs. Vermont

Alabama 109, Charleston 96.

The nation’s highest scoring team was its usual self, putting up 12 more points than the Tide had ever managed in an NCAA Tournament game. It was the 10th game this season past 100 for Alabama, a new SEC record.

San Diego State 69, UAB 65.

Jaedon LeDee scored 47 points in six NCAA Tournament games for San Diego State’s run to the championship game in 2023. He had 32 in 35 minutes against UAB.

James Madison 72, Wisconsin 61.

Wisconsin came into the night averaging only 9.7 turnovers a game. James Madison forced the Badgers into 19, with 14 steals. It was the Dukes’ first win in the first round in 41 years.

Grand Canyon 75, Saint Mary’s 66.

Grand Canyon’s first NCAA Tournament win in school history came in a surprisingly convincing manner. Saint Mary’s was second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing under 59 points a game. The Lopes rang up 47 the second half.

Clemson 77, New Mexico 56.

No problem for the Tigers, even if they hadn’t won a tournament game in six years. This was the second biggest margin of victory in the NCAA Tournament in Clemson history.

Colorado 102, Florida 100.

KJ Simpson’s baseline jumper in the final seconds settled the shootout of 13 lead changes. This was as close as the tournament was going to get to a buzzer-beating winner. All five Colorado starters had at least 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. No Division I team had done that in 25 years.

Full ending, game winner from Colorado’s wild first-round win over Florida

Northwestern 77, Florida Atlantic 65, OT.

New team, same result for Ryan Langborg. He helped Princeton to the Sweet 16 in 2023. Now a Wildcat, his 27 points pushed Northwestern past FAU, outscoring the Owls by 12-7 himself in overtime. Northwestern is now 3-0 in first-round games. Not long after, coach Dusty May left FAU for Michigan. The fairy tale ride of 2023 was officially over.

Texas A&M 98, Nebraska 83.

Nebraska was really hoping to spruce up that 0-7 NCAA Tournament record. Allowing 58 points in the first half was not the recommended way to do it.

Utah State 88, TCU 72.

Since 1971, the Aggies had gone 1-18 in the NCAA Tournament, and the lone victory was 23 years ago. Never mind that now as they outscored TCU 46-26 in the paint and shot 55 percent.


Arizona 78, Dayton 68.

Caleb Love had games of 30, 28 and 23 points in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, but that was for North Carolina. Now he was helping carry a different team in March, with 19 points and five assists.

North Carolina 85, Michigan State 69.

The Tar Heels’ rally from 12 points down was its biggest NCAA Tournament comeback in 17 years. Tom Izzo might have lost a taste for Carolina blue. He’s 0-5 against the Tar Heels in the tournament.

Iowa State 67, Washington State 56.

The Iowa State defense strikes again. The Cyclones missed 14 of their first 17 shots to fall behind by eight points early but turned the day around by forcing errors. Iowa State outscored Washington State 21-4 in points off turnovers.

Tennessee 62, Texas 58.

It wasn’t pretty. Tennessee went 3-for-25 in 3-pointers and shot under 34 percent overall. But advancement is always beautiful. Texas once fired Vols coach Rick Barnes for not doing that enough.

Illinois 89, Duquesne 63.

The last No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the national championship game was top-ranked Illinois losing to North Carolina in 2005. The Illini had not been back to the Sweet 16 since. Until now.

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Creighton 87, Oregon 73, 2 OT.

Neither team led by more than six until Creighton’s 15-0 run in the second overtime. Oregon scored 73 points and Jermaine Couisnard and N’Faly Dante had 60 of them, including 37 of 39 after halftime.

Gonzaga 89, Kansas 68.

In the beginning of the season, Kansas was ranked No. 1. In the middle of the season, Gonzaga was supposedly a bubble team. In March, the Zags mashed the Jayhawks for their ninth consecutive Sweet 16 trip.

North Carolina State 79, Oakland 73 OT.

Nothing says March like a No. 11 seed vs. a No. 14. Magic both ways. North Carolina State’s was just a wee bit stronger as the Wolfpack survived their seventh elimination game in 12 days.

Purdue 106, Utah State 67.

Zach Edey had 21 points and 11 rebounds. At halftime. The 106 were the most points for a Big Ten in a tournament game in 25 years and the 39-point margin the second widest ever between a No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed.

🏆 Every March Madness winner 

Connecticut 75, Northwestern 58.

It was going this good for the Huskies: They were 3-for-22 in 3-point shooting and still led by as many as 30 points. Donovan Clingan had 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks. The only other guys to ever do that in an NCAA Tournament were Navy’s David Robinson and Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon four decades ago.

Marquette 81, Colorado 77.

Marquette shot nearly 62 percent but had to fight for its life against a Colorado team trying to get to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 55 years. Tyler Kolek’s 21 points and 11 assists helped save the day.

Clemson 72, Baylor 64.

Clemson was shunned by the selection committee in 2023, even with 23 wins and a share of third place in the ACC. The Tigers had waited a year for an adequate answer. This was it.

Duke 93, James Madison 55.

It had been 25 years since Duke won a second round NCAA Tournament game by this large of a margin, highlighted by eight 3-pointers from freshman Jared McCain. It had been 44 years since the Blue Devils went into the Sweet 16 without Mike Krzyzewski.

Alabama 72, Grand Canyon 61.

Mouhamed Dioubate, have a day. The Alabama reserve had scored 21 points in his previous nine games. He had nine in the last six minutes to put a fork in Grand Canyon, who missed 14 free throws and went 2-for-20 from the 3-point line.

San Diego State 85, Yale 57.

The Aztecs earned consecutive Sweet 16 bids for the first time in school history. And for that they got a rematch with Connecticut from the 2023 championship game.

Houston 100, Texas A&M 95, OT.

How physical? The teams combined to shoot 75 free throws. Houston led by 10 points with 1:20 left in regulation, but 80 seconds later the game was going into overtime. The Cougars had to regroup with four starters fouled out.


Clemson 77, Arizona 72.

Forty-four years. That’s how long since Clemson’s last victory in a Sweet 16 game. And it’s only one until this night, when the No. 6 seed Tigers held off the No. 2 seed Wildcats. It was the last tournament game for the broken-apart Pac-12. Arizona has lost to a team seeded at least four lines lower in its past six NCAA Tournament appearances.

Connecticut 82, San Diego State 52.

The rematch of the previous national championship was no match at all. Included in the carnage: UConn had 21 offensive rebounds. San Diego State had 29 total rebounds. Also, the Huskies dominated points in the paint 38-18.

Alabama 89, North Carolina 87.

Grant Nelson had missed six of seven shots and scored only six total points in Alabama’s first two tournament games, so how could North Carolina have seen him coming? Nelson poured in 24 points – 19 in the second half — to make the Tar Heels the first No. 1 seed to get booted. The Tide moved on to their first Elite Eight in 20 years and second ever.

Full final 1:30 of Alabama’s Sweet 16 stunner over North Carolina

Illinois 72, Iowa State 69.

Little separated these two teams in the box score except for one line – the 29 points from Illinois’ Terrence Shannon Jr. Shannon had 20 before halftime, helping the Illini to an 11-point lead. Illinois advanced to its first Elite Eight in 18 years.

Purdue 80, Gonzaga 68.

Between Zach Edey’s 27 points and 14 rebounds and Braden Smith’s 15 assists, Purdue had all the tools necessary. The win gave the Boilermakers 20 consecutive non-conference wins against power league or ranked teams, matching the second longest such streak in NCAA history.

Duke 54, Houston 51.

Out went the second No. 1 seed of the weekend. This was the lowest point output of the season for the Blue Devils by 10 points, but then that happens often against the Houston defense. Duke still found a way, although the Cougars were probably doomed when star Jamal Shead went out for good in the first half with an ankle injury.

North Carolina State 67, Marquette 58.

Marquette shot only 33 percent and went 4-for-31 from beyond the arc. What happened? North Carolina State happened. The magic continued for the No. 11 seed Wolfpack, who advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in 38 years. The recently maligned ACC suddenly had three teams in the Elite Eight.

Tennessee 82, Creighton 75.

One finger was all that was needed to count Tennessee’s total of Elite Eight appearances before 2024. Now make that two. An 18-0 run in the second half put the Vols in control to stay with Dalton Knecht scoring 24 points.


Connecticut 77, Illinois 52.

Top-10 teams do not get outscored 30-0. Offensives averaging 84 points a game do not get held to 52. Unless, of course, they’re playing Connecticut. The Huskies rampage rolled into the Final Four with their 10th consecutive tournament victory by double figures. And to think it was actually tied at 23-23. The Huskies shot 70 percent the second half, the Illini 22 percent. Need we go on? But it was a tornado warning to the Final Four about what was coming.

Check out the top moments from Saturday’s Elite 8

Alabama 89, Clemson 82.

Did they start this with a coin toss? One of these two football schools was going to get its Final Four spot in history. Sixteen 3-pointers later, it was the Tide. Clemson had allowed only 14 3-pointers in three tournament games combined. Alabama’s Mark Sears had seven by himself. The Tide became the 100th different school to reach the Final Four.

North Carolina State 76, Duke 64.

Duke led 27-21 at halftime. Then North Carolina State scored 55 points in the second half and that was that. If it wasn’t one DJ it was another for the Wolfpack, DJ Burns Jr. scored 29 points – two days after scoring only four against Marquette – and DJ Horne added 20. No. 11 seed North Carolina State advanced to its first Final Four in 41 years.

DJ Burns dominates Duke with 29 points

Purdue 72, Tennessee 66.

Think of Ali-Frazier in basketball shoes. Zach Edey had 40 points for Purdue, Dalton Knecht 37 for Tennessee. One was unstoppable in the paint, the other from the perimeter, and the duel was pretty even. The free throw line was not, where Edey had 22 attempts and the entire Vols team 11. The win secured the Final Four trip the Boilermakers had chased for so long. To be exact, 44 years. The last important play was Edey blocking Knecht’s shot.


Purdue 63, North Carolina State 50.

Purdue shot only 40 percent and had 16 turnovers, and a lot of years that would have meant the Boilermakers were going home. But this team has learned to find different ways when needed, turning to defense and a 41-28 gap in rebounding to move to its first national championship game in 55 years.

Connecticut 86, Alabama 72.

The Tide were stubborn for 28 minutes, fighting the Huskies to a 56-56 draw. Then UConn did what UConn does, bringing down a team with a sudden deadly burst. This one was 30-14 to the end. Alabama actually led for 4:18 in the first half, which was 3:50 longer than the Huskies’ first four tournament opponents combined. The repeat was 40 minutes away.

UCONN vs. Alabama

Connecticut 75, Purdue 60.

So came the exclamation mark at the end for the Huskies. They were willing to let Edey have his way inside, but nobody else on Purdue was going to get open air. So Edey got 37 points – the most in a championship game since 1978 – and everyone else in a dark Boilermaker uniform had 23. Connecticut finished off its repeat by trailing only 6:22 in the entire tournament, and winning its six games by an average of 23.3 points.

Any questions?

“Last year was last year,” said Tristen Newton after being named Most Outstanding Player. “It’s not defending that trophy. The ’23 trophy is in Coach’s office. Nobody can take that from him.”

Now nobody can take this one, either. Two championships in a row, six since 1999. Throw in Geno Auriemma and the women and that’s 17 UConn national championships in 30 years. Staggering. So what’s next?

“We’re going to be focusing on trying to put together a three-year run, not just a two-year run,” Hurley said. “I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”

And those were the final words to take from the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

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