The record is 88-0. For a while it looked as though it could be 87-1.
Connecticut kept the No. 1 seeds’ record perfect Friday night with a 72-59 victory over Albany, a game in which the Huskies trailed by 12 points with 11:34 to play.
The crowd at the Wachovia Center, except for the Connecticut section, was behind Albany. The other arenas hosting first-round games were abuzz with people watching the scoreboard.
The Huskies, who were ranked No. 1 in the country for five weeks this season, went on a 28-5 run to take command of the game. But it could have been 87-1.
“A 16 is going to beat a 1,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. “The gap is closing, we all know that.”
Two other No. 1s won Friday, Villanova 58-45 over Monmouth and Memphis 94-78 over Oral Roberts. Duke, the fourth top seed, beat Southern University 70-54 on Thursday.
There have been some scares for top seeds since the field expanded to 64 in 1985.
Last year, Illinois led Fairleigh Dickinson 32-31 at halftime before going on to a 67-55 victory.
In 1989, Georgetown beat Princeton 50-49 and Oklahoma beat East Tennessee State 72-71 in the first round. In 1996, Purdue beat Western Carolina 73-71.
Friday night was different. Connecticut was down by double digits.
Calhoun knew everyone was watching and rooting.
“We drew an entire country into watching this game and seeing history being made,” he said. “Thank God history wasn’t made.”
Playing the role of Bucknell in this year’s NCAA tournament is Northwestern State.
The comparisons between what Bucknell did in 2005 and what Northwestern State did Friday are quite remarkable.
Both were No. 14 seeds that beat nationally ranked No. 3 seeds, although Northwestern State went for the more dramatic ending.
Bucknell beat Kansas 64-63 last year when Chris McNaughton of the Bison banked in a hook shot with 10 seconds to go for the one-point lead, and then Kansas’ Wayne Simien missed an open 15-foot jumper at the buzzer.
The Demons trailed Iowa by 17 points with 8½ minutes to play. Greg Brunner made one of two foul shots with 14 seconds left to give Iowa a 63-61 lead. Jermaine Wallace of the Demons ran down a missed 3-pointer, turned and let a 3-pointer go as he was falling out of bounds. It went through with less than a second to play and the Demons had the biggest upset since Bucknell a year earlier.
Bucknell’s win was the first in the main draw of the NCAA tournament for a team from the Patriot League. The same goes for Northwestern State and the Southland Conference.
“I chased it down and looked at the clock,” Wallace said of his game-winner. “I knew I had chance for one or two dribbles, so I shot it and fell.”
As did another No. 3 seed.
Bucknell beat a team from one of the power conferences for the second straight year in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but the Bison did it a different way.
Friday’s 59-55 victory over Arkansas came with a long-range touch.
The Bison were 11-for-21 on 3s against the Razorbacks and managed a 6-for-23 effort inside the arc.
“Wow,” Bucknell’s Charles Lee said when he looked at the box score. “We were just feeling it today.”
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