March 7, 2009

NCAA.com Staff Reports

One hundred and eight teams. Tip-offs starting at 4 p.m. ET, final buzzers on the day's action blaring close to midnight. Fifty-four teams with their dreams still alive, 54 packing for home. Welcome to March.

Friday marked the first full day of the D-III men's and women's tournament, and with it, the true beginning of the wildest college sports month of the year. On the men's side, 24 games decided who'd be moving on to the second round and who'd be heading back tom campus. And almost nothing came easy.

The day was highlighted by overtime thrillers, as No. 7 Wis.-Whitewater knocked host and No. 20 Elmhurst from the tournament with an 81-79 win, unranked MIT upset No. 17 Rhode Island College, 73-68, No. 19 Guilford slipped past Transylvania, 67-71 and Carnegie-Mellon needed two overtimes to shake Brockport State.

Elsewhere, Gwynedd Mercy downed No. 21 Amherst to stay alive in its region. But the biggest upset of the day came in Canton, N.Y., where SUNYIT handed No. 12 Elms its walking papers with an 85-77 win. And finally, defending champ Washington-St. Louis barely eluded the same fate against Lawrence, pulling out a 67-65 win.

On the women's side, the 30 games couldn't have looked much more different from the men's set. Not a single game went into OT, while every higher-ranked team moved on except for one - No. 23 DeSales, who fell to No. 25 TCNJ in Bethlehem, Penn. The other `upset' happened in the same regional, as Tufts knocked off host Moravian, 80-70 - although a win by the 15th-ranked Jumbos over their unranked opponents might not qualify as a true upset, regardless of locale.

Not to say that the first round went without surprises. In the battle between No. 13 Messiah and No. 14 Eastern Connecticut, it wasn't even a contest, as Messiah exploded for an 81-46 win. Defending champ Howard Payne was knocked out by Transylvania, while Wash.-St. Louis, Concordia-Wisconsin and Oglethorpe all snuck into the second round with close wins.
 
Finally, Bowdoin took the biggest win of the day, downing Castleton, 72-31 in Maine.

Second-round action picks back up on Saturday. For all your tournament needs, stay tuned to ncaa.com!