John Fanta’s 2023 March Madness instant reaction: Vols stop Duke, leaving East wide open


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The first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was market by massive upsets. Will it continue in the Round of 32?

Here is a preview of some things I’m looking for as the action picks back up on Saturday:

I’ll be providing a full breakdown of every game on Saturday, but first, make sure you check out a few key items: our NCAA Tournament bracket, NCAA Tournament schedule, 50 reasons to be excited for March Madness and top plays of the first round.

Here is a complete recap of Day 2. Next, stay tuned for exclusive interviews, running analysis and more from Day 3.

No. 4 Tennessee 65, No. 5 Duke 52

Here is my rapid reaction to the Vols’ win. More to come soon!

No. 5 San Diego State 75, No. 13 Furman 52

This was tabbed as the year for San Diego State to get on the national map in a major way.

In an isolated TV window to tip off Saturday’s action in the NCAA Tournament, the Aztecs showed their very best and punched the program’s first ticket to the Sweet 16 since 2014 with a rout of Furman.

Head coach Brian Dutcher, who was Steve Fisher’s right-hand man at SDSU from 1999-2017, now has his signature moment as the leader of the program. A year following the heartbreak vs. Creighton in the first round, the Aztecs welcomed back four of five starters from a 23-win squad, and it’s produced a great redemption story.

In the win over the Paladins, who bowed out after a program-record 28-win season and their first March Madness victory since 1974, the Aztecs showed why they’re as strong defensively as any team in the country.

For a third straight game, SDSU held its opponent to the lowest output of its season, as the Aztecs held the Paladins to just one made field goal in the final 11 minutes of the first half. 

Furman led 16-12 through nine minutes. The Aztecs then put their mark on the game, turning stops into scores and going on an 18-1 run behind junior Micah Parrish, who scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the first half and knocked down two triples. Matt Bradley, the fifth-year senior leader, only shot 3-for-10 from the floor, a reflection that the Aztecs don’t simply hinge on him like last year.

Dutcher addressed those needs in the transfer portal last offseason, bringing in Darrion Trammell (Seattle), who had 13 points in the win. Lamont Butler, a steady starting guard, had 12 points, six assists and six rebounds. 

The Aztecs outscored the Paladins in the paint, 40-16. They led in bench points, 27-11. None of those things were surprising, but with 17 assists on 29 made field goals, that’s telling for SDSU in the big picture as they won their sixth straight game.

With the winner of Alabama/Maryland ahead in the Sweet 16, the key is simple: Can this team continue to find enough offensive balance and hit some timely 3s? 

For now, it’s celebration time for the Aztecs and the Mountain West, which greatly needed this from its flagship program. 


No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Arkansas | 5:15 p.m. ET

No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 15 Princeton | 6:10 p.m. ET

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 9 Auburn | 7:10 p.m. ET

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 10 Penn State | 7:45 p.m. ET

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Northwestern | 8:40 p.m. ET

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Maryland | 9:40 p.m. ET

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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