The Big East sent eight teams to the NCAA tournament. But on the first day of action, Cinderellas sent three of those Big East teams home — and the fourth to play Thursday needed OT to survive.
That was No. 2-seeded Villanova, which slipped past Robert Morris 73-70.
No. 6 Notre Dame? Out, 51-50, to No. 11 Old Dominion. No. 6 Marquette? Gone, 80-78, to No. 11 Washington. Most surprising of all: No. 2 Georgetown. Outhustled, outshot and outplayed by No. 14 Ohio, 97-83.
Ohio, a team that had posted a losing record in its Mid American Conference, snuck into the Big Dance by putting together a four-game conference tournament championship run.
And on Thursday, the suddenly unstoppable Bobcats seemed a step quicker than the Hoyas on offense and defense all night. The Hoyas had no answer for two Bobcats guards who delivered a couple of steely-eyed Big Dance performances that will be talked about for years.
Armon Bassett, with a game-high 32, and freshman D.J. Cooper, 23 points, could do no wrong.
The Hoyas were down the whole game, and whenever they put together any kind of charge, Bassett or Cooper would nail a cold-as-ice three, or slice through the taller Hoyas for a layup off the glass.
Cooper had one of those signature plays that will be viewed over and over on YouTube: a jaw-dropping spit-clean strip of Georgetown’s Jason Clark followed by a full-speed half-court sprint, capped by a gorgeous alley-oop that floated near the rim before teammate DeVaughn Washington slammed it home.
It was a sequence that signaled Cooper and Bassett simply weren’t going to allow the Bobcats to lose.
The win sends Ohio (22-14) to a second-round game against No. 6 Tennessee on Saturday at Providence.
The one bright spot of a dismal night for Hoyas fans: After the game, center Greg Monroe told the Associated Press he was leaning toward coming back for his junior season: “I’m ready to go back and see how I can help my team next year,” he said.