DAYTON, Ohio -- The first game of the NCAA Tournament was a perfect segue from the regular season -- on the screwball side.

After a winter of odd twists and turns, no ordinary opener would do. Albany’s 71-64 win against Mount St. Mary’s wasn’t ordinary.

MARCH MADNESS
Galleries from each of the games
Lopresti: UConn takes Napier's lead to national title
Kroll: Deficit too much for Kentucky against UConn
Bauernfeind: Kentucky players credit UConn guards
Collins: Toughness leads to another title for Huskies
Kroll: Calipari has run up against Connecticut before
Lopresti: UConn's run to title game reflection of its coach
Lopresti: Championship game numbers and words
Kroll: Kentucky lives by the freshmen -- again
Lopresti: UConn drawing comparisions to 2011 champs
Lopresti: Notes: UConn, UK is a match with many angles
Bauernfeind: Kentucky's inside game the difference
Collins: Ollie's leadership keeps UConn run alive
Lopresti: Napier's and Wilbekin's stories meet in Final Four
Lopresti: Notes: Times have changed since 1986
Kroll: Kaminsky grows into bigger role for Wisconsin
Kroll: AT&T Stadium is an un-really big deal
Lopresti: Even for Kentucky, it's no easy street
Lopresti: Notes: UConn's Ollie eyes title in first Final Four
Lopresti: Kentucky's Randle has private cheering section
Lopresti: Top tourney day in history of Final Four teams
Lopresti: Meet the battle-tested final foursome
2014 DI Men's Basketball Tournament Stats
Brackets: Interactive Printable
Selections: East  Midwest  South  West
• Analyze Final Four: UPS Team Performance Index
• Vote Now: Degree Clash of the Underdogs
• Vote Now: 2014 Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T
Inside Look: NCAA Courtside presented by AT&T
Strangeness by the numbers:

  • Albany opened the game with a 21-2 run. Then Mount St. Mary’s answered with  a 21-2 run. So they started over again at a 23-23 tie.
  • Albany, the winning team, had 14 turnovers.
  • Mount St. Mary’s, the losing team, had four.
  • Mount St. Mary’s, the losing team, had 21 points off the bench.
  • Albany, the winning team, had none.
  • The shooting percentage gap was staggering -- Albany at 57.4 percent Mount St. Mary’s at 36.7 percent. Yet the game was in doubt until the final minute.
  • Mount St. Mary’s shot 37 3-pointers, or two more than it had 2-point attempts and free throws combined.
  • Albany’s Sam Rowley flirted with a triple double – eight points, 13 rebounds and seven turnovers.
  • Mount St. Mary’s leading scorer, Will Miller, scored 21 points off the bench. He took 12 3-pointers and no 2-pointers.


The message seemed clear. Now that the party had begun, don’t expect much routine.

Mike Lopresti is a member of the US Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, Ball State journalism Hall of Fame and Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. He has covered college basketball for 43 years, including 38 Final Fours. He is so old he covered Bob Knight when he had dark hair and basketball shorts were actually short.
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