There were plenty of fantastic games in this year’s first-round. 13 of the 32 games were won by single digits with a number of very tight results. We were also given three games that went into overtime.
Despite the numerous close games, some were more appealing to the eye than others. Here is an analysis of the best games from the 2022 Round of 64.
(7) Michigan State-74, (10) Davidson-73
MSU-Davidson was tight throughout, with the Spartans gaining a slight one-point advantage at the break, which turned out to be the final difference. In what was one of the best storylines entering the first round, Davidson guard Foster Loyer played against his old team and dropped 12 points.
The main issue that Michigan State faced was guarding Wildcat big man Luka Brajkovic in the paint. The Austrian dropped 18, but only played 22 minutes because of foul trouble.
Davidson made their usual 10 threes while MSU struggled behind the arc, shooting 7/26 from deep.
The game was ultra fun to watch because of the lack of turnovers; both teams only committed seven.
It was possibly Davidson beating themselves more than Michigan State beating the Wildcats, as they shot just 7/12 from the free-throw line and gave up 13 second-chance points.
Michigan State’s bright spot had to have been Joey Hauser, who stepped up big time with a 27 point performance, including four threes. Hauser averages around seven a game on the season. Second-year point guard AJ Hoggard was also particularly bright, using his downhill speed to feed Gabe Brown for three in the corner to ultimately seal the game.
(7) Murray State-92, (10) San Francisco-87
The Racers went into the game with a 20 game winning streak and left with that total, plus one. Both halves were very close, with each team winning either half 37-36.
It was the star Don Jamaree Bouyea who hit the three-pointer to tie the game with 18 seconds left, and great defense stopped Murray State from taking the game in regulation.
Head coach of the Dons Todd Golden took the job at Florida after the game, but his job in this game, his last with San Francisco was spectacular. He finally led this program back to the big dance and helped establish ab absolute star in Bouyea.
Bouyea dropped 36 points as he played in every single second of the 45-minute game. In the end, though, Bouyea just didn’t have the help he needed from the other starters, and the Racers’ offense became too potent, scoring 19 points in the five-minute overtime period.
Murray State had their own guard who played all 45 minutes in Justice Hill, who tallied 15 points. Alongside him in the starting lineup was of course KJ Williams who put up 18 in the contest to go with his seven rebounds in 39 minutes played.
The biggest difference was the bench output from Murray State, who had 2 players in double digits off the bench, including an 18 point game from Trae Hannibal after he was forced into more playing time after the injury to starting guard Carter Collins just two minutes into the game.
(15) Saint Peter’s-85, (2) Kentucky-79
Another overtime game, this one was one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. Kentucky was a popular pick to make the Final Four coming out of the East Region, and a sleeper pick of many to win the whole thing.
Saint Peter’s on the other hand comes from the MAAC, a conference that has struggled to perform well in the NCAA Tournament historically. Despite being a 15 seed, and not a 16, many consider this to be the greatest upset in the history of the tournament, mostly because of the discrepancy of tournament experience between the two programs.
The Peacocks shot 9/17 from three, while Kentucky made only four from behind the arc.
Despite turning the ball over and giving up second-chance points, Saint Peter’s was able to even it out by converting pretty much all their second-chance opportunities and scoring off their turnovers.
It was a well-played game by Kentucky, but they just didn’t take advantage of their opportunities like Saint Peter’s did.
Kentucky was completely carried by Wooden Award Candidate Oscar Tshiebwe with his 43 minutes in where he scored 30 points and 16 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive end. They had chances to win it at the end of regulation, but ultimately their poor shooting came back to bite.
Specifically, it was the guards who didn’t perform. Tyty Washington in his first NCAA Tournament game made only two shots all game and known shooting expert Kellan Grady was 1/9 including a horrifying 1/7 from the line.
It was tight the whole way as both halves were tied with the same score from each team. Saint Peter’s threatened to lose their lead on multiple occasions but managed to scrape by and pull off the impossible.
Learn how these teams fared in the second round here.