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The first game of March Madness lived up to its billing

The NCAA Tournament is off to a flying start with Oklahoma and URI battling to a thrilling OT finish.

Oklahoma v Rhode Island Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

If you laid out the twenty bucks for KenPom back in November or whenever, you’ve got access to his FanMatch page that ranks every matchup of every day by how compelling it should be. The page today showed that Oklahoma-URI was the second-rated game of the day, with a “Thrill Score” of 70.7.

It paid off. Trae Young come out looking like the week off had done him good, hitting his first four shots and having 10 points and 4 assists in the first ten minutes and change. Then Rhode Island locked in on him a bit and he went silent for 25 minutes.

In that time, Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell and EC Mathews stepped up and chipped away an eight-point deficit to tie the game, then take a six-point lead. URI had the margin there with just over four minutes left.

Then Trae Young went on a personal 7-0 run to take the lead back.

Then EC Mathews may have traveled on his way into the lane, but he got a call and made a bucket, shifting the lead back to URI. Young answered with a pair of FT of his own, setting up a final possession where this dude from Rhode Island had a chance to be a hero:


The overtime period wasn’t exactly a commercial for good basketball, but drama abounded. It wasn’t until EC Mathews planted a long three in the face of the entire state of Oklahoma from the top of the key that the game felt done and dusted. Let’s hope the rest of the tournament pays off on this early promise.