Less than 12 hours removed from the culmination of an entertaining First Four games, the 2021 men’s NCAA Tournament formally began Friday.
No. 1 seeds Baylor and Illinois will be in action later in the afternoon, with other intriguing matchups sprinkled throughout, in the first true day of March Madness in nearly two years. And if Friday’s games rival the First Four in terms of down-to-the-wire finishes and drama, college basketball fans will be in for a real treat.
Follow along from the first tip to the final buzzer for the latest updates, reaction and analysis from USA TODAY Network reporters, editors and columnists.
West Virginia pulled away fully from Morehead State in the second half to advance with a 84-67 win. Miles McBride led the way for the Mountaineers with 30 points.
The victory was the 900th of WVU coach Bob Huggins’ career.
The Wildcats got a good challenge from the Eagles but proved in to the end to be too much for the No. 12 seed in a 73-63 victory. Villanova has not lost its first NCAA Tournament game since 2013.
Buddy Boeheim was brilliant, scoring 30 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including a 7-for-10 mark from 3-point range. His efforts helped the No. 11-seeded Orange cruise past Mountain West champion San Diego State, 78-62.
No. 10 Rutgers downed No. 7 Clemson 60-56 in a back-and-forth contest in the Midwest Region. The…