Northwestern provided the biggest thrill of the first full day of the NCAA tournament on Thursday (March 16th), getting their first March Madness win ever on a day that saw few upsets among the 16 first-round games played. Northwestern notched its first NCAA tournament win in its first-ever tournament appearance, and they got it because of an inexplicable play by Vanderbilt in the final seconds. Northwestern had led for nearly the entire game until Vanderbilt pulled ahead by one point with 1:36 left in the game. The lead then went back and forth, until, with 17 seconds to play, Vanderbilt was again ahead by one point. Suddenly Vanderbilt's Matthew Fisher-Davis intentionally fouled Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh, giving Northwestern two free throws instead of making them try to get a basket in the final seconds. McIntosh made them both, Vanderbilt wasn't able to score again, Northwestern added one more point, and they won the game 68-66. Fisher-Davis later said he'd thought they were one point behind instead of one point ahead.
In the day's two upsets, Number 11 Xavier beat sixth-seeded Maryland and Number 12 Middle Tennessee beat fifth-seeded Minnesota.