The NCAA tournament had a fair share of upsets on March 20. However, it wasn't a huge shock that the likes of Harvard, North Dakota State and Dayton won on the first full day of NCAA tournament action. Yet no one expected the Mercer Bears to pull out a 78-71 shocker over the Duke Blue Devils on March 21 -- which was even more glaring when other powerhouses did survive upset scares to end the second round.
The Blue Devils, on the other hand, suffered their second shocking early NCAA tournament upset in three years. After being knocked out by 15'th seeded Lehigh in 2012, 14'th seeded Mercer took Duke out of contention early this time.
It had looked like the Blue Devils would survive when they went up by 63-58 with under five minutes left. One 20-5 run later, however, the Bears became the new darlings of March Madness -- and the new upset darlings of the Atlantic Sun conference, after Florida Gulf-Coast's dunk filled Sweet 16 run last year.
The Eagles beat the Bears for the Atlantic Sun title in 2013 before their NCAA tournament wins, but Mercer got its revenge in this year's conference tournament. Now Mercer can match Florida Gulf-Coast's run by beating the Tennessee Volunteers in the third round on March 23.
As for the Blue Devils, they became the biggest upset victim of March Madness, although several other top seeds almost eclipsed them. The likes of the Virginia Cavaliers, Arizona Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks didn't exactly cruise over heavy underdogs, with No. 1 Virginia even facing a second half deficit to Coastal Carolina.
But the second full day of the NCAA tournament was one of survival for many favorites, except for Duke. Mercer and Stephen F. Austin were the only ones to pull actual big upsets when all was said and done. Yet while the Lumberjacks used a four-point play to force overtime and upset the No. 5 seeded VCU Rams, the Bears still got the defining victory of the round.
The accompanying list details the full tournament results on March 21, showing who moved on and survived, and who went home with the Blue Devils.
Mercer shocks Duke
Mercer 78, Duke 71: Late run by Mercer caps off Duke's latest early exit from NCAA tournament -- and latest tournament upset from Atlantic Sun conference.
Stephen F. Austin stuns VCU
Stephen F. Austin 77, VCU 75 (OT): Desmond Haymon's four-point play forces overtime, leads to Lumberjacks' 29'th straight win and crowning of new NCAA Cinderella over ex-Cinderella Rams.
North Carolina survives
North Carolina 79, Providence 77: James Michael McAdoo sinks two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to eek Tar Heels into round of 32 over Friars.
Cavaliers avoid historic upset
Virginia 70, Coastal Carolina 59: Anthony Gill, No. 1 seeded Cavaliers face six point deficit early in second half, then finally put away No. 16 seeded Chanticleers.
Kansas 80, Eastern Kentucky 69: Andrew Wiggins, Jayhawks endure multiple first-half turnovers, Colonels' three-points to finally pull away late.
Arizona 68, Weber State 59: Top-seeded Wildcats go on cruise control in the second half, become latest No. 1 to struggle against a No. 16 -- but still win anyway.
McDermott opens strong
Creighton 76, Louisiana-Lafayette 66: Bluejays struggle despite 30 points from Doug McDermott, but finally pull away late from Ragin' Cajuns.
Stanford grinds out win
Stanford 58, New Mexico 53: Lobos are unable to sink shots or beat out a double-digit seed for their second consecutive NCAA tournament game.
Wichita State 64, Cal-Poly 37: Unbeaten, highly debated Shockers turn out to be only top seed that cruises in opening game, thanks to Cleanthony Early's 23 points.
Kentucky's Wildcats beat Kansas State's
Kentucky 56, Kansas State 49: Aaron Harrison, Wildcats of Kentucky doom cold Wildcats of Kansas State to get showdown with unbeaten Shockers.
Gonzaga wins in March again
Gonzaga 85, Oklahoma State 77: Kevin Pangos' 26 points and 10 late free throws help Bulldogs win as NCAA tournament underdogs again over Cowboys.
Dixon stars off bench
Memphis 71, George Washington 66: Sixth-man Michael Dixon Jr. scores 19 points in 18 minutes off the bench to lift Tigers over Colonials, and into meeting with top seeded Virginia.
Volunteers win again
Tennessee 86, Massachusetts 67: Volunteers go from First Four to being favored for Sweet 16, after blowing out Minutemen to earn date with Cinderella Mercer.
Niang lost for tournament
Iowa State 93, North Carolina Central 75: Cyclones cruise behind Georges Niang's 24 points, until broken foot takes him out of NCAA tournament.
Miles, Huskers knocked out early
Baylor 74, Nebraska 60: Bears dominate former Big 12 rival Huskers, during which Nebraska coach Tom Miles gets himself ejected in second half.