Kentucky and Vanderbilt Prevail on Chalk Thursday

Vanderbilt shook off three consecutive early exits in past tournaments and polished off Harvard.

Thursday certainly wasn't one of the maddest days of March Madness we've had, as only there were only two real upsets by seeding: 11-seed Colorado knocked off UNLV, and 12-seed VCU beat 5-seed Wichita State. Even those aren't really much of upsets. Colorado won the Pac-12, and VCU and Wichita State aren't that far apart despite their disparate seedings.

The relative calm was a good thing for the SEC though, as its two teams were a 1-seed and 5-seed, respectively.

While fellow 1-seed Syracuse nearly spit the bit against UNC-Asheville, Kentucky had no problems whatsoever putting Western Kentucky away to the tune of 81-66. After UK jumped out to an early lead, WKU actually battled back and took a lead of its own at 12-10 at the 14:31 mark in the first half. The Wildcats would not abide such foolishness, however, immediately going on an 8-0 run that gave them a lead they wouldn't surrender the rest of the way. Kentucky had leads of 30+ points during stretches of the second half before the Hilltoppers went on a bit of a run in the final seven minutes to make the score somewhat closer.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt won the Overdone "Smart" References Bowl by taking down Harvard 79-70. It was a tight game throughout the first half, but Vandy closed out the period on a 13-3 run over the final five minutes to go up by 10 at intermission. The Commodores led by as many as 16 in the second half before the Crimson went on a run to pull within six with just over a minute to go, but VU made its free throws to put the game away. The Vanderbilt wing players were the difference makers as John Jenkins had 27 points, Brad Tinsley had 16, and Jeffery Taylor had 15, though Festus Ezeli did have eight points and 11 rebounds down low.

On Saturday Kentucky will face Iowa State, while Vanderbilt will get Wisconsin. In the meantime, Florida will play Virginia and Alabama will tussle with Creighton in what should be a bit more of an exciting slate of tournament games.

There were a couple good finishes yesterday, in particular VCU-Wichita State and Colorado-UNLV, but it wasn't a classic day of craziness going on everywhere. Today promises to have at least a little more excitement. I thought the Midwest region had the most potential for upsets, and it plays all of its games today.

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