Friday is Day 2 of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament. Follow here for scores and live analysis of who wins, who loses and who broke your bracket.
How to watch: CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV will broadcast the games starting at noon ET, and a livestream is available at NCAA.com. (Don’t know where to find TruTV? CBS figured you didn’t, so they made this helpful guide.)
Today’s Top Story Lines
Three No. 1 seeds — Zion Williamson and Duke in the East, Virginia in the South and North Carolina in the Midwest — play their N.C.A.A. tournament openers today. Virginia is up first, against Gardner-Webb at 3:10 p.m. in Columbia, S.C.
The Big Ten put eight teams in this year’s tournament and went 5-0 on Thursday. Three more teams — Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin — play Friday.
Missed what happened yesterday? Here are three ways to catch up: just the scores and highlights, our live briefing as it happened yesterday, and Ben Shpigel’s wrap-up.
Only four lower seeds won Thursday in what was, let’s be honest, a lot of less-than-compelling basketball. Will Friday bring the bracket-busting upsets we all crave?
Buffalo? Yes Buffalo.
Buffalo lost only three times this season, and spent most of the year in the Top 25. Now, coach Nate Oats’s team can prove it deserved its ranking, and its No. 6 seed in the West Region, when it opens against Arizona State in Tulsa, Okla.
The game will have a familiar feel: Oats got the Buffalo job after serving as Hurley’s assistant on the staff there. They led the team to its first N.C.A.A. tournament berth in 2015, a run that most likely got Hurley the Arizona State job. Now Oats has led Buffalo back to the tournament three times on his own.
“It’s not ideal,” Oats said earlier this week. “I don’t want to coach against him. There’s a reason we haven’t scheduled any games against each other. It is what it is, but I’d like to see him win. I’m a friend of his. He gave me my shot in this business, I’m loyal to him. I pull for him. Shoot, I helped him with some recruits down there.”
Syracuse Lost a Guard, Then a Game
Syracuse played without its senior point guard Frank Howard in its 78-69 loss to Baylor on Thursday. Howard was suspended indefinitely on the eve of the tournament for violating an unspecified university policy, and while the Orange traded shots with the Bears for a while, they clearly missed him.
“It’s hard when you don’t have your senior point guard,” said the freshman Buddy Boeheim, who was pressed into duty as the starter in place of Howard. “We obviously could have really used him, but we had to adjust.”
Down by a point at halftime and close for much of the second half, Syracuse finished with 12 assists and 13 turnovers without Howard running the offense.
“Obviously, we missed him — he’s our point guard,” Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said. “I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. He isn’t here.”
A Sweet Moment You Probably Missed
By the time Nadi Beciri leaked ahead of the field in the final minute of Fairleigh Dickinson’s thumping at the hands of Gonzaga on Thursday night, most people had long since switched to other games. But when Beciri gathered in a pass, scored on a lurching layup and was fouled, it meant that Fairleigh Dickinson, a 16th seed, would only lose to top-seeded Gonzaga by 87-49.
But the reaction made it clear this was not an inconsequential basket. That was clear when the Knights leapt to their feet on the bench, and Beciri, staggering toward them, was greeted with a bear hug by his coach, Greg Herenda.
“I had to be the happiest coach to ever cut it to 38 in the history of college basketball,” said Herenda, who joked that he was happy he didn’t get a technical for coming onto the court.
As much as the N.C.A.A. tournament is about star-making turns and underdogs taking their shot, it is also about moments in the shadows: Max Plansky, a 21-year-old with cerebral palsy who traveled here with Northeastern; or New Mexico State’s Johnny McCants reaching down to pull up his teammate Trevelin Queen, who lay crestfallen after missing a potential winning shot at the buzzer against Auburn.
Or when a single basket, like the one by Beciri, that means so much more.
It had been a meandering five years for Beciri, who is from Maywood, N.J., He had gone to The Citadel, where he did not play, and then to a junior college when Herenda pleaded with him to return home to Bergen County. The coach liked his energy, his toughness, his personality. “He’s like the pied piper,” Herenda said. “He walks around and there’s love and he’s a great kibitzer, as my mother would say.”
After his first year, Herenda called him in.
“I told him I’m going to call you Idan: I-d-a-n,” Herenda said. Beciri asked why?
“Because it’s Nadi spelled backward. You have to change your whole life, your eating habits, working out.”
Beciri got in the gym, stayed away from his mom’s Albanian cooking, and lost 51 pounds.
He was looking forward to another modest role off the bench this season, but after playing in two games his back gave out. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture and a degenerative disc. As days turned into weeks and months, he began to think about other things — finishing his finance degree in May, applying for jobs.
Then, two weeks ago, his back suddenly felt better. He could run. He could jump. And there was no pain.
“I went to coach and said I just really want to go out there and practice with my guys one last time and be there with my guys if we go to the N.C.A.A. tournament,” Beciri said. “I know we have a good thing going and I didn’t want to wreck the flow of the team. I just wanted to be part of the scout team, do the walk-through. I just wanted to suit up.”
And so he was there, when the Knights won the conference tournament, when they beat Prarie View A&M in a play-in game, and when the clock stopped with 1:34 left on Thursday night and he was waved in from the scorer’s table.
When he laid the ball in, for a basket in a game long settled, it felt very much like his one shining moment.
“Every one of our players has a story in this tournament,” Herenda said. “Every single one has a story and Nadi’s story amplifies what college athletics is about and it’s way more than advancing and surviving.”
“It’s life,” he added. “And he’s going to have a great life.””