Saint Peter’s shock Kentucky in first round of NCAA tournament

Saint Peter’s did the impossible. They beat the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Saint Peter’s wasn’t supposed to stand a chance against the Wildcats. Not a program from a school in Jersey City, New Jersey, with an enrollment of about 2,300 students, that plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and entered Thursday as an 18.5-point underdog. But it was the Peacocks who gave John Calipari his first opening-round loss since he became coach of the Kentucky Wildcats while being just the 10th No. 15 seed to win a first-round game since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

NCAA tournament

The Peacocks’ win is the largest upset in the NCAA tournament since Coppin State (+18.5) knocked off South Carolina in 1997. It’s also tied for the fourth-largest point-spread upset in the tournament since 1985.

The Wildcats, a favorite to come out of the East Region and reach the Final Four, didn’t enter the tournament playing as crisply as they wanted to. They had a late-season loss at Arkansas and then lost to Tennessee in the semifinals of the SEC tournament. Kentucky was 4-of-15 on 3-pointers Thursday.

Thursday’s first-round action offered 16 NCAA Tournament games – three of which went into overtime, including a thrilling finale that saw Murray State clip San Francisco. 

While the early part of the day started quiet — outside of No. 11 seed Michigan knocking out No. 6 Colorado State, the second half of the day produced a string of bracket-busting upsets. We welcomed our first Cinderella of the day in Richmond. The No. 12 seeded Spiders shocked No. 5 Iowa to advance in the Midwest region. Next came fellow No. 12 seed New Mexico State, fueled by breakout star Teddy Allen’s 37 points, in an upset of No. 5 UConn to advance in the West. 

But the unrivaled highlight of the day came when Saint Peter’s stunned Kentucky.

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