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NCAA Men's Tournament 2019: The Top Performers Through the 1st Round | Bleacher Report



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    Lance King / Getty Images

    The first round of the 2019 NCAA's basketball tournament is in the books, and there was no shortage of memorable performances across Thursday's and Friday's games.

    The biggest stars (Duke's Zion Williamson, Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura) showed out, and there were plenty of upsets as well. Three of the four No. 1

    2 seeds beat their No. 5-seeded opponents, and the No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters took down the no. 4 Kansas State Wildcats.

    Ahead of the round of 32, it's worth looking back at the best performances of the first round. With apologies to good performances from Belmont's Dylan Windler (35 points, 11 rebounds), Colgate's Jordan Burns (32 points) and Arizona State's Zylan Cheatham (22 points, eight rebounds, three assists), only players on winning teams were considered for these rankings

      Jessica Hill / Associated Press

      By the numbers: Carsen Edwards played a strong all-round game, leading all scorers with 26 points. He hit four three-pointers, grabbed seven rebounds, four assists and two steals as the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers easily beat the No. 14 Old Dominion Monarchs in the South Region

      Buzz factor: Edwards was plagued by a shooting accidentally leading up to the tournament, raising questions about whether the Boilermakers were potential early-round upset victims. Edwards wasn't particularly efficient, shooting just 7-of-23 from the field, but he did everything for Purdue and helped his team take care of business without much difficulty

      Why he's here: Because of his shooting struggles, Edwards was among the biggest wild cards on any of the high-seeded teams heading into the tournament. He did not make the rest of it Thursday, but he did not wait to get the boilermakers a spot in the round of 32.

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    Chris Carlson / Associated Press

    By the numbers: Payton Pritchard led all scorers with 19 points along with eight assists, five rebounds and two steals as the No. 12 Oregon Ducks Upset 5 Wisconsin Badgers 72-54 in the South Region.

    Buzz factor: 12 seeds to upset in No. 5 seed, coming on the heels of Murray State's Thursday victory over Marquette in the West Region.

    Why he's here: Not only did Oregon upset and higher, but the Ducks also became the badgers. Pritchard controlled the offense the whole way, setting up teammates in addition to his own strong scoring performance.

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    Associated Press

    By the numbers: De'Andre Hunter's 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and six rebounds helped lead the No. Virginia Virginia Cavaliers 16 Gardner-Webb Bulldogs 71-56 in the South Region on Friday

    Buzz factor: Hunter hasn't received much as much national buzz as other prospects, but the sophomore guard is a projected top 10 NBA draft pick who did nothing to hurt that status in the opening game of the tournament.

    Why he's here: Last season, UVA made the wrong kid of NCAA tournament history, becoming the first No. 1 seed in the men's competition to lose to no. 16 seed, when the team fell to the UMBC Retrievers. Hunter's all-around solid performance was enough to ensure that did not happen again

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    Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

    By the numbers: Cassius Winston had a game-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting along with three rebounds and four assists as the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans survived a challenge from the No. 15 Bradley Braves in the East Region, pulling out 76-65 victory to advance to the round of 32.

    Buzz factor: Until the final five minutes of the game, it seemed like there was a real chance Bradley would pull off the most shocking upset of the tournament thus father. It might not have been like the No. 16 UMBC Retrievers' Upset of the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in 2018, but it would have been close

    Why he's here: Winston made sure that did not happen, putting the Spartans on his back to pull away at the end. 19659027] 5 of 10

      Rick Bowmer / Associated Press

      By the numbers: Rui Hachimura scored 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting and recorded eight rebounds as the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs became no. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights 87-49 in the West Region

      Buzz factor: Hachimura is the reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Year, and Gonzaga entered the tournament as one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Both live up to the billing.

      Why he's here: A player of Hachimura's stature is supposed to take care of business, especially in the first round of the tournament against a much lesser opponent.

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    Rick Bowmer / Associated Press

    By the numbers: Dedric Lawson had a game -high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three-point range, and put up 11 rebounds, a steal and a block as the No. Kansas Jayhawks routed the No. 4 13 Northeastern Huskies 87-53 in the Midwest Region

    Buzz factor: Lawson lived up to his status as a preseason All-American with an all-around dominant night to help the Jayhawks advance. [19659004] Why he's here: Lawson showed off all facets of his game Thursday, hitting outside shots, scoring inside, dominating the glass and playing physical defense. He did it all for the Jayhawks

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    Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

    By the numbers: Caleb Homesley exploded for 30 points on 10- of-16 shooting and hit five three-pointers to go along with his four rebounds as the No. 12 Liberty Flames Stunned the No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs with a come-from-behind win in the East Region on Friday.

    Buzz factor: Three of the tournament's four No. 12 seeds pulled off ups, with the Flames' win over the Bulldogs coming on the heels of Murray State's victory over Marquette and Oregon's win over Wisconsin.

Why he's here: Homesley scored a lot of points, and he did it efficiently while leading a comeback in one of the more entertaining games of the first round.

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    Charlie Riedel / Associated Press

    By the numbers: Jarrett Culver led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting as the No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders Handled Business Against the No. 14 Northern Kentucky Norse 72-57 in the West Region. He was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and had eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block.

    Buzz factor: Culver is a projected top-10 pick in June's NBA draft, and the big tournament run could vault him solidly into the top five. That campaign couldn't have gotten off to a better start.

    Why he's here: Culver showed off everything he can do, shooting the ball efficiently while rebounding and making plays for others to help the Red Raiders take care of the Norse

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    Nell Redmond / Associated Press

    By the numbers: RJ Barrett had a game-high 26 points along with 14 rebounds, three assists and a steal. Zion Williamson added 25 points on 12-of-16 shooting along with three rebounds. Together, no. 1 Duke's two star freshmen accounted for over half of the Blue Devils' points as their team stayed out of the No. 16 North Dakota State Bison 85-62 on Friday in the East Region

    Buzz factor: Williamson is the most electrifying college player in years and all but certain to be the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA draft. Barrett is also a projected top-five selection, and he has been dominant when Williamson has been healthy.

    Why they're here: Because of Williamson's superstar status, all eyes will be on Duke throughout the tournament, who could raise the profiles of Barrett and fellow freshman star Cam Reddish. Reddish had an off night Friday (12 points on just 3-of-9 shooting), but Williamson and Barrett helped Duke take care of his first-round opponent easily

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    Jessica Hill / Associated Press [19659003] By the numbers: Yes Morant had the first triple-double in the men's tournament since Draymond Green in 2012, putting up 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds as no. 12 Murray State Stayed Out No. 5 Marquette 83-64 in the West Region

    Buzz factor: Outside of presumptive top pick Zion Williamson, no prospect in the 2019 NBA draft class has been getting more buzz than Morant, who is likely to go no. 2 overall on June 20. His dazzling performance in the tournament will only help his case.

    Why he's here: Thanks to Morant, Murray State was a popular pre-tournament upset pick, and the racers did not disappoint. Not only did they beat higher seed, but they also ran off the floor, setting up a possible legitimate Cinderella run.


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