Trevon Bluiett scored 21 points and Sean O’Mara had 18 to help No. 11 seed Xavier upset sixth-seeded Maryland 76-65 during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The upset by No. 11 seed Xavier over No. 6 seed Maryland is one many people saw coming — about 43 percent of people who filled out brackets on Yahoo and ESPN picked the lower seed to win.
Many gamblers preferred the Musketeers, too. Nevada sports book William Hill says 54 percent of bets were placed on Xavier, and 58 percent of the money wagered backed the 2-point underdog.
Cinderella took the afternoon off at the NCAA Tournament.
When fourth-seeded Florida polished off 13th seeded East Tennessee State as dinner time on the East Coast approached, the higher-seeded teams improved to 6-0 on the opening day of the tournament.
The closest call in the afternoon came in Buffalo, where 12th-seeded Princeton took fifth-seeded Notre Dame to the final buzzer before falling 60-58.
Gonzaga slowly pulled away from South Dakota State for a 66-46 victory. And they avoided the first 1 vs. 16 upset in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
It looked possible for a while.
The Jackrabbits led for the first 17 minutes of Thursday’s game in the West region and stayed in range for most of the game. Jordan Mathews scored 16 points to help Gonzaga pull away.
Gonzaga became the 129th straight No. 1 seed to beat a 16 since the bracket was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Fifth-seeded Virginia rallied from 15 points down to beat 13th-seeded UNC Wilmington 76-71.
London Perrantes scored 24 points and Marial Shayok added a career-high 23 off the bench.
Virginia advanced past the first round for the fourth consecutive year and won as a 5 seed for the first time in four tries. The Cavs can thank Perrantes and Shayok for making it happen.
Notre Dame avoided a 12-5 upset in Buffalo, holding off Princeton — which missed a late shot for the lead — 60-58.
Twelve-seeds are popular upset picks, having beaten five seeds 46 times in tournament history.
The West Region game — played in Buffalo — was the first contest of the full tournament.
In other results from Thursday’s first-round games, Butler beat Winthrop 76-64, and it was Virginia 76, UNCW 71.
Murray watches son
Actor Bill Murray made the trip to Orlando to support Xavier and his son, Luke, who is an assistant for the team.
Murray sat in the first row in the Musketeers section, but was mostly subdued during the first half.
Murray is a huge sports fan, notably rooting for Chicago’s pro sports teams. He was in attendance throughout the Cubs’ postseason run, and was in Cleveland for the Game 7 World Series win.
Luke Murray is in his second season on Chris Mack’s staff at Xavier. Murray spent the previous two years at Rhode Island. He also has spent time at Towson, Wagner and Arizona.