This March, 14 is the new 12 in the NCAA Tournament

Published 9:58 am Friday, March 20, 2015

Fourteen is the new 12 this year at the NCAA Tournament.

The heart-pounding first full day of the tournament was headlined by two No. 14 seeds taking down two No. 3 seeds before the day was even half over. Trendy Final Four pick Iowa State lost to UAB, 60-59, and Georgia State edged Baylor, 57-56. Northeastern nearly made it a clean sweep for the three 14s in action on Thursday when it put a scare into Notre Dame before falling 69-65.

Northeastern and UAB had two of the five one-point victories on the day, the most ever for a single day in the tournament and as many as the previous two tournaments combined. Now at least one 14-seed has beaten a 3 in each of the last three tournaments. It was the first time since 1995 that two No. 14s have advanced.

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Conventional wisdom when filling out brackets includes always picking a 12 seed to beat a No. 5. It happens practically every year. But this time around, Utah beat Stephen F. Austin and Arkansas beat underdog Wofford to make the No. 5s 2-0 on the day.

There is one more 14 seed waiting to play. Albany will play No. 3 Oklahoma on Friday.

“I’m very surprised,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said of Iowa State and Baylor losing. “Two great teams that had great years and outstanding players. That’s the nature of the NCAA Tournament, I guess. It’s surprising anytime that happens, but it’s happened before.”

Here are some of the things we learned on Thursday:

Brackets busted

The losses by Iowa State and Baylor decimated millions of brackets across the country in a matter of minutes. Just six games into the tournament, only 14,797 of the 11.57 million filled out on were perfect, according to ESPN’s metrics. That just 0.12 percent.

Tight sight

Louisville was the place to be on Thursday, with three of the five games that were decided by one point. The Blazers beat Iowa State and No. 11 UCLA nipped No. 6 SMU by identical scores, 60-59, while No. 8 Cincinnati beat No. 9 Purdue, 66-65 in a game that was tied at 59 at the end of regulation.

Texas tumble

Disappointment is bigger in Texas. All five teams from the state lost on Thursday. Baylor, SMU, Texas Southern, Stephen F. Austin and Texas all made early exits.

Close call

UCLA prevailed over SMU when Mustangs center Yanick Moreira was called for goaltending on a 3-pointer by Bryce Alford to put the Bruins ahead. The shot appeared to be off line, but officials ruled that Moreira touched the ball before it had a chance to get to the rim. The NCAA’s head of officiating said goaltending was the right call.