March Madness: First Four Tips Off

March Madness

March Madness got underway on Tuesday with two contests to tip off the tournament and start the road towards the NCAA championship decider. Kansas State put in an excellent offensive display to see off a dangerous Wake Forest team, while Mount St. Mary’s downed New Orleans by a single point, thanks to the heroics of Junior Robinson.

Kansas State vs. Wake Forest, 95-88

Kansas State kept cool at both ends of the floor to see off Wake Forest 95-88 in an exciting contest on Day One of March Madness. K-State got the First Four underway with a typically rounded offensive display to grab its second NCAA Tournament win in five years.

Wake Forest is hardly slouchy in attack, so this was an evenly squared contest. However, the Wildcats had the pick of the hot shooters in the game, with four players ending the clash in double figures. The win was paced by Kamau Stokes with 22 points. 19 of them came in the second half as K-State grabbed the momentum and run with it. Kansas State has been hot on offense all season, but saved their best so far for March Madness, with a season-high 66% accuracy from the field.

John Collins was instrumental in keeping Wake Forest in the game. He drained 25 points and claimed 9 boards in a strong personal effort as the Demon Deacons played its first NCAA Tournament game in nine years.

Wake Forest has been noted for double digits comebacks during the regular season run in, but the team could not muster it this time. However, K-State was made to sweat with clutch shots that stopped the Demon Deacons getting back on terms.

Kansas is now in search of its first two-game streak since 2010 in their next contest.

Mount St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans, 67-66

A more subdued and less attacking game was played out as Mount St. Mary’s edged New Orleans in the second First Four game on Tuesday. All the headlines correctly go to Junior Robinson, who with his display dragged the Mountaineers to victory and even supplied the winning bucket.

Robinson is already well-known. At 5-foot-5 he is among the most recognizable players in the division and is the smallest in the NCAA 1. Proving that size is not everything, Robinson poured in 23 hugely important points against New Orleans. It was his game-winning basket that was the most important.

Robinson had been making incisive dribbles into the key all game, and with his final charge, he laid a jumper that put the school in front for good. There was still 1:27 to play, but it was the killer that allows St. Mary’s to stay on top. This is only the second March Madness win in the history of the Mountaineers.

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