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Thursday, November 27, 2014
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First-round recap: Winners and losers

I've been saying it since early Thursday afternoon, but this is the most entertaining tournament in a long time. On my count, about three-quarters of the games have been tight, very competitive and just fun to watch.

Now that the field's been cut in half, it's time to look at the winners and losers of the first two days of the NCAA Tournament. After Thursday's action, I said Tennessee, Saint Mary's and hoops fans were the winners, and the Big East, Texas and President Barack Obama were the losers. Here's my updated version:

Winners

The state of Ohio: After Ohio University scored a big upset against Georgetown on Thursday, fellow Buckeye State members Xavier and Ohio State joined them in the second round.

The west coast: Who said the Pac-10 was a one-big league? After getting two teams in the tourney, both have shined. Washington pulled an upset against Marquette and Cal topped another Big East team, Louisville. Also, the West Coast Conference has two teams in the second round after Gonzaga beat Florida State. Down with the east coast bias.

The Big Ten Conference: Although Minnesota lost to Xavier, the Big Ten teams held on against surprisingly strong opponents. Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue all played tight games but advanced, and Ohio State also won.

Losers

The Atlantic 10 Conference: Xavier advanced, but a league that once looked like it could get six teams in the tournament only got three, and then saw two of those lose in the first round. Temple was blown away by No. 12 Cornell on Friday, and Saint Mary's topped Richmond on Thursday.

Mid-major teams: There were a lot fewer upsets Friday than there were Thursday, and though the mid-major teams played tough, many fell to the power conferences. New Mexico State, Wofford, Houston, Siena and Utah State are just a handful of the mid-major teams that were competitive but unsuccessful Friday.

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