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March Madness 2021 – Biggest moments and best plays from the men’s NCAA tournament

The day is finally here. March Madness has begun. There has not been the upset-filled, drama-packed, bracket-busting, 12-hours-on-the-couch first day of the tournament in two years. The 2021 NCAA tournament begins in earnest today after Thursday’s First Four action.

Texas Southern, Drake, Norfolk State and UCLA survived. No. 1 seeds Illinois and Baylor play Friday, as does Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, one of the top NBA draft prospects.

Oregon State trolls Tennessee

It was bad enough for the 5-seeded Tennessee Volunteers that they were taken down by the 12-seeded Oregon State Beavers in one of those 12-5 upsets that seem to happen once a tournament. But to be the object of these pretty good burns just added insult to injury.

New owners. pic.twitter.com/FbROI4b46h

— The Beavs (@BeaverAthletics) March 19, 2021

Dangerous enough. https://t.co/D4fY8Y1P3F

— The Beavs (@BeaverAthletics) March 19, 2021

Texas teams stick together

In another huge upset in the round of 64, 13-seed North Texas took care of 4-seed Purdue 78-69, with the Shakespearean-named Javion Hamlet dropping 24 points and 12 rebounds in the win. One team that was suitably impressed? None other than the Dallas Cowboys.

Congrats, @MeanGreenMBB!! 🙌 #GMG https://t.co/feNa4rpGeF

— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) March 20, 2021

Good news for Sister Jean

What a day for Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. We mentioned below how she got to meet Butler Blue (or, maybe more appropriately, he got to meet her), and on top of that, 8-seed Loyola Chicago pulled off a comfortable 71-60 win over 9-seed Georgia Tech.

SISTER JEAN IS STAYING IN INDY! @RamblersMBB | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/cL63vhAsKF

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

Good news too for guard Lucas Williamson — after averaging just 8.2 points per game all season, he erupted for 21 in the Ramblers’ most important contest so far.

Huge upset in Golden Eagles-Buckeyes

15-seed Oral Roberts came to play against 2-seed Ohio State. Though the Golden Eagles hadn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1974, they managed to do so in spectacular fashion in 2021, forcing overtime and then pulling away against the powerhouse Buckeyes. Ohio State had an opportunity to tie it up in the waning seconds of overtime, but couldn’t make it happen.

IT’S MARCH!

15-SEED ORAL ROBERTS UPSETS OHIO STATE! 😱@ORUMBB | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/GyKqYYGhhm

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

CINDERELLA CELEBRATES!@ORUMBB | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/E5JKeHtkm6

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

How big of an upset was this? 95.2% of all Tournament Challenge brackets picked Ohio State to win, and it’s only the ninth time in history a 15-seed has knocked off a 2-seed in the Round of 64. That last bit is becoming slightly more common, however — five of those upsets have occurred in the past nine years.

Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas, who dropped 29 points in the win, got some special praise from Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.

Max Abmas a Problem🔥🔥 F’d up my bracket but I ain’t trippin😂💯
Keep Goin!! @maxabmas

— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) March 19, 2021

When Butler Blue met Sister Jean

Butler Blue IV, the Butler mascot, has already become an unofficial ambassador for the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis.

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the 101-year-old chaplain for Loyola-Chicago’s basketball team, is a March Madness icon and international celebrity after Loyola’s Final Four run in 2018. It was announced this week that she would travel with the team to its tournament opener against Georgia Tech.

These members of college hoops royalty met Friday.

I got to meet Cinderella before the ball. 🥰 #MarchMadness | #MayorofMarch pic.twitter.com/BPRieuCMod

— Butler Blue IV (@TheButlerBlue) March 19, 2021

The @marchmadness content we’ve all been waiting for 😍 pic.twitter.com/lHo6GsHweA

— Loyola Men’s Basketball (@RamblersMBB) March 19, 2021

Later, Sister Jean showed up in her usual spot to root on her favorite squad.

Sister Jean ready for the Ramblers 👏@RamblersMBB | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/rnNICQnL01

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

More dogs!

New Arizona Cardinal J.J. Watt (Wisconsin alum) and wife Kealia Watt of the Chicago Red Stars (UNC alum) showcased their dueling loyalties through dogs before the ninth-seeded Badgers took on the eighth-seeded Tar Heels.

Wisconsin vs. North Carolina tonight.

A household divided.

(Sorry for the sound quality, this video was apparently filmed in the middle of a tornado) pic.twitter.com/0oYSb5afO7

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 19, 2021

Badgers vs. Tar Heels

We’re ready. #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/M8TVduSviQ

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 19, 2021

Here’s some of the best action from Friday:

OT for Hokies-Gators

Virginia Tech blew a 10-point lead to Florida before rallying back and forcing overtime with a clutch 3-pointer from Nahiem Alleyne. Colin Castleton had a huge game for the Gators with 19 points and a huge block near the end of regulation. Anthony Duruji’s huge overtime dunk then set the tone for the Gators, who held on to win 75-70. There were huge plays at the end:

BIG BLOCK BY CASTLETON 😤@GatorsMBK | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/XAMNTEgP6U

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

MARCH MADNESS IS ALIVE AND WELL@HokiesMBB | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/eOkO4jsUpP

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

ON. HIS. HEAD. 🤯@GatorsMBK | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/i7eMVhLHDy

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

Alleyne’s 30 points were a Virginia Tech single-game NCAA tournament record.

Florida shot 56.5% from the field, its best mark in an NCAA tournament game since 2013, and its third-best mark in an NCAA tournament game in the past 25 years.

Send it in, Kofi

KOFI COCKBURN THROWS IT DOWN 💥@IlliniMBB | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Ki6XlyuOLp

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 19, 2021

Illinois, a No. 1 seed, cruised to a 78-49 win over Drexel, to open its tournament run.

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