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 DukeBlue 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.