Regardless of what coworkers and friends may claim they had penciled in on their brackets, chances are it didn't include both Richmond and Morehead State. Both teams were popular upset picks entering the NCAA Tournament, but only 9 times have a 12-seed and a 13-seed met in the second (now third) round of the Big Dance. It simply doesn't happen.
Clearly the Spiders and Eagles didn't get the memo.
Led by a game-high 25 points (including a late floater that proved to be the difference maker) from Kevin Anderson, Richmond sent Vanderbilt packing, making this the third year in a row the Commodores have been eliminated in the first round by a double-digit seed. Most would hardly call this an upset, not only because it's become almost an annual tradition for a 12-5 upset to occur, but because the Spiders had such decided advantages over Vandy in many facets of the game - not the least of which would be the presence of Anderson and Justin Harper operating efficiently.
Morehead State is the program most didn't expect to be crashing the round of 32, but the Eagles had different plans, upsetting Louisville on Thursday with Demonte Harper providing the signature moment by draining a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining. With Kenneth Faried being swarmed defensively (but still registering a double-double), Terrence Hill led the way with a season-high 23 points.
This game will ultimately come down to which team does a better job of combating their own weaknesses. The Eagles are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and severely limit opponents from getting a high number of second chance scoring opportunities, while the Spiders don't rebound well at all. With that said, Richmond has one of the best half court offenses in the country, shooting over 40% from beyond the arc and ranking as one of the best pick and roll teams in the nation. Morehead is only average defending these play types (fairing much better in transition) and is in the bottom third in Division 1 in perimeter defense.
Are the Eagles athletic enough to outplay the Spiders who hold the advantages in execution and versatility? Come in and share your thoughts in our open thread.