DENVER — Madness is here!
Ball Arena is one of the NCAA Tournament sites for men’s basketball, which hosted four first-round games on Friday, March 17.
The announced attendance for the day was 19,152.
The Coloradoan was live on the ground, and below are some of the best things we saw from the first-round action.
The best performance
Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner is one of the most fascinating players to watch in college basketball.
He is 7 foot 1 and all arms and legs. Although he can give off the vibe of a baby giraffe at times, he has developed into an incredibly dangerous weapon and was at his best on Friday.
Whatever Kalkbrenner did, it worked, and no NC State defender could handle him.
He scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Several were impressive layups, but he also hit a 3-pointer at a time when Creighton had missed 16 straight from deep.
It was a near perfect game.
Kalkbrenner was the game-winning star against NC State, but Wolfpack star Terquavion Smith also put on a show.
He scored a game-high 32 points and had a game-high 30 seconds in the second half.
Smith threw a massive dunk over Kalkbrenner and then on the other side made a huge block.
This was one of the best single player sequences you will see all tournament.
Accent Play, Part II
Arizona State’s Frankie Collins threw a massive dunk on the last play of the day, right over the defenders head!
Game of the day
It might not have been the most entertaining end-to-end game due to a rough second half, but the twists and turns were fascinating between No. 11 Arizona State and No. 6 TCU, in an eventual 72-70 TCU win.
Each team had a lead of as much as 11 points during the game, but it fell to the very end.
Arizona State led by eight with less than 5 minutes left in an upset bid, but the Sun Devils kept their cool.
TCU went on a 12-2 run to take a 70-67 lead. DJ Horne then hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left for Arizona State to tie the game at 70.
Then JaKobe Coles hit a runner in the final seconds for TCU to clinch the win.
What an end to the day!
The best uniforms
Gray jerseys tend to be controversial (at least for teams that don’t use gray in their usual color palette). Baylor is known for all kinds of wild, electric looks.
Friday’s look was somewhat muted by Baylor standards, but I was a big fan of the gray uni with black lettering accented by electric yellow, which really stood out.
The ultimate crowd pleaser
Not surprisingly, Creighton owned the Ball Arena for its game against NC State.
The Creighton campus is less than an 8-hour drive and an easy flight away, plus Bluejays fans follow a good team.
Of course the blue shirts took over and the buzz was loud for every big Creighton game. Loud “CU” chants erupt often, but not for the Boulder school.
The Greatest Mob Takeover, Part II
The Grand Canyon made a, uh, grand entrance.
A student section was hired on the flight (the things money will do for you, huh!) and the purple-clad Lopez absolutely rocked it.
They were the only student section all day in the Ball Arena, and their choreographed cheers dominated the hype for the game against Gonzaga.
The ultimate non-local vibe
One of the funniest, true March Madness moments came during the Grand Canyon-Gonzaga game. While that was happening, #16 Fairleigh Dickinson was completing the upset of #1 Purdue.
The last few minutes of that upset were shown on the Jumbotron in the Ball Arena. Fans booed as the game was taken (briefly) off the big screen only to return again.
There was a huge cheer as FDU sealed just the second 16-to-1 upset in tournament history.
Final results, matches on Sunday
Here are the results from Friday’s games in Denver and Sunday’s games:
No. 3 Baylor 74, No. 14 UC-Santa Barbara 56
No. 6 Creighton 72, No. 11 NC State 63
No. 3 Gonzaga 82, No. 11 Grand Canyon 70
No. 6 TCU 72, No. 11 Arizona State 70
The Sunday games
#3 Baylor vs. #6 Creighton
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 6 TCU
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle Twitter and Instagram @Kevin_Lytle.