Impact of Princeton, Furman upsets on men’s March Madness bracket

Impact of Princeton, Furman upsets on men’s March Madness bracket

Sometimes you need some time before upsets come in the NCAA tournament. Sometimes, the action doesn’t really start on the first Thursday.

Not this year.

We barely finished lunch as a late 4-seed Virginia The turnover turned into an improbable, game-winning 3-pointer by JP Pegues to help the 13-seed Furman advance. And that was not the most memorable moment.

Before dinner, 2-seed Arizona blew a 10-point lead in defeating the 15-seed Princeton. Kentucky sends its regards.

But now we have questions. Because the South region of the 2023 men’s March Madness bracket, and Alabama‘s thin control of them, has changed.

ESPN expert panel Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Myron Medcalf examine what happened and how the South region looks with two big upsets in the books.

Search live coverage of the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament here.

1. What made Arizona lose to Princeton? How did Virginia fare in the game against Furman?

Myron Medcalf: I hate to sound like a high school coach, but where was the effort in the last 10 minutes of the game? Arizona played cocky. And that is always dangerous. They took a double-digit lead at the 11-minute mark, but no Tosan Evbuomwan and Co. rallied, the Wildcats seemed overwhelmed and couldn’t respond well. And, credit Tigers coach Mitch Henderson. It was Arizona’s third loss in a game with 67 or fewer possessions. They slowed the game down, and it worked.

Furman was determined until the last minute. It started with this group’s response to playing without a top scorer Mike Bothwellwho fouled out in the second half. Jalen Slawson has been a real nightmare for Virginia as a 6-foot-7 ball handler. Then, late in the game, they made a play over the top of Virginia’s defense, opening up the floor. What happened next: Furman was in position to make a late play to win the game.

Jeff Borzello: Arizona’s guards are as bad as ever. The Wildcats got their typical production from their bigs, including Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo combining for 35 points and 17 boards — but Kerr Kriisa, Courtney Ramey, Pelle Larsson and Cedric Henderson Jr. combined to shoot 1-for-12 from 3, totaling just 15 points. And for one of the best teams in the country at sharing the ball, the Wildcats had just 10 assists on 13 turnovers.

Virginia jumped out to an early lead, but its deliberately slow tempo didn’t lend itself to burying opponents under scores of points. Furman got a few baskets before the Hoos had a chance to set their defense, which gave the Paladins momentum and allowed them to get back into the game. And, as has been the case for most of the season, Virginia has really struggled shooting the ball. The Cavaliers haven’t made 40% of their 3s in a game since January, and went just 2-for-12 from behind the arc on Thursday.

John Gasaway: The Wildcats were a dismal 3-of-16 from their 3, and Kriisa was 1-of-7 personally. Teams don’t have shooting nights all the time, of course, but the fact that the No. 2 seed of the Ivy League tournament was able to maintain an NCAA No. 2 seed from getting a second chance is even more surprising. Give full credit to Tosan Evbuomwan and Caden Pierce. They did a great job on the defensive glass. Arizona pulled down less than one of its five misses.

As for Virginia, it ran into a similar dead end in March. The Cavaliers converted two 3s in 40 minutes. Furman was 10.



Furman stunned the No. 4 seed Virginia 68-67

The Paladins shut out the Cavaliers on the final possession to secure the upset.

How far can Princeton and Furman go in the tournament?

Reprimand: The Tigers will take their inspiration from another New Jersey team. No one gave Saint Peter much of a chance as a No. 15 seed last year, and the Peacocks made it to the Elite Eight. Princeton will now play the 7-seed Tigers of Missouriand Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge would be a handful.

Then again, Mitch Henderson’s group might have a better chance than the oddsmakers give Furman against the 5-seed San Diego State. At this point in the season, the Aztecs have been better than Virginia on defense.

Borzello: Going into the NCAA tournament, I went with Furman in the Sweet 16, so I rode with the Paladins again in the second round against San Diego State. Mike Bothwell had to stay out of foul trouble in that one, though, because the Paladins weren’t the same team with him on the bench. San Diego State is elite defensively and really imposes its style of play on opponents, just like it did against Charleston after the opening minutes.

I’ll have Princeton beat Missouri — but hey, the Tigers also lost to Arizona. The Tosan Evbuomwan vs. Kobe Brown should be a fantastic match up front.

Medcalf: I think a San Diego State team has its hands full Charleston should be concerned. Paladins coach Bob Richey accomplished the school’s greatest NCAA tournament feat without its leading scorer late in the game, and without scoring more than 7 points until the 10-minute mark of the first half. Slawson will also be a problem for the Aztecs. He is a unique matchup in size. We’ve probably never seen the best of Furman. And that means something.

But I’m not picking Princeton to beat Missouri. I have faith in Dennis Gates and Kobe Brown. Sincerely, an ESPN reporter picked Arizona to reach the Final Four.

Which team benefits the most from two epic upsets in the South?

Borzello: This is undoubtedly Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s toughest test in the region will likely come from Arizona, one of the few teams that has had the offense to keep up with it. While I have Virginia bounced by Furman, a potential Sweet 16 tilt against the slow-it-down Cavaliers will be a stark contrast in styles. The lower half of the region is wide open now, though, which could benefit Baylor o Creighton. The Bears have struggled defensively, but they have elite guards, while Creighton has become one of the best teams in the country with a healthy Ryan Kalkbrenner. One of the two could find themselves in the Elite Eight now.

Reprimand: Alabama. None of this will come into play for the Crimson Tide until next weekend, of course, but the departure of No. 2 and 4 seeds from your bracket help the team in the top lane. Even when the brackets were announced, the South was viewed as relatively hospitable to ‘Bama. Today, the region has become more accommodating.

Medcalf: Yeah, definitely Alabama. Arizona’s size and speed are considered its biggest test in the region. With Arizona gone, there’s a chance Alabama can put together a pretty dominant run to the Final Four. And Tony Bennett’s defensive adjustments for Virginia are problematic for most teams. Alabama’s path is now easier.