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Is your bracket intact? More games are on tap in the Men's NCAA basketball tournament


The headline that one of our producers put on this next story on our story list is March Madness Madness. It was the opening day of college basketball's Division I men's tournament. And it featured the kind of upsets that justified the event's nickname. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: March Madness has come a long way. The story goes, the phrase first was coined in 1939 by an Illinois high school official, then adopted by the NCAA tournament in the early 1980s. Now, March Madness has been trademarked and monetized - finally for the athletes, too. But through it all, it still means the same.


GOLDMAN: That was the moment at Sacramento's Golden 1 Center when scrappy Princeton - has there ever been a Princeton team we haven't called scrappy? But that was the moment the 15th seeded Tigers took the lead over No. 2 Arizona on the way to a 59-55 win, the biggest upset of the day - a not-so-rare-anymore 15 over two. This is the third straight year it's happened. Still, these kinds of first-round March Madness moments bring out emotional extremes, joy and then what Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd talked about afterwards.


TOMMY LLOYD: If you want to do great things in life, you got to be willing to step in some dog [expletive] once in a while. And that's just how it is. And we did today. And a lot of it was self-inflicted. But a lot of it was from a great opponent, you know, who has a lot of pride.

GOLDMAN: Like Princeton junior guard Matt Allocco.


MATT ALLOCCO: I can't say I'm surprised, you know? This team has been so good all year, so gritty. On paper, you know, it's going to look like a big upset. But, you know, we believe in each other. And we think we're a really good team.

GOLDMAN: Happiness with a big upset and happiness with a win that didn't really move the March Madness needle.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Northwestern fans are on their feet here at the Golden 1 Center.


GOLDMAN: Northwestern's win over Boise State wasn't a stop-the-presses victory. It was significant to purple-clad Northwestern fans for two reasons. It was the Wildcats' second win ever in the men's tournament. And it was a win, something coaches say is so hard to do regardless of who's seeded where. Paula Pretlow (ph) is a Northwestern alum.

PAULA PRETLOW: It's still a celebration. The fact that we are here today and we won and we move on to the next, if that's as far as we get, so be it.

GOLDMAN: Of course, there are places in the country where one win won't cut it.


GOLDMAN: The Alabama Crimson Tide are the tournament's overall No. 1 seed and the most significant threat in recent memory to March Madness joy. Three Alabama players have been connected to the January shooting death of a young woman, Jamea Harris. One who was kicked off the team was indicted for murder. Another star, Brandon Miller, allegedly delivered the gun used in the shooting but wasn't charged with anything and has kept playing. That's provoked such anger that this week, Miller showed up at the tournament with an armed security guard. On top of this, Alabama is playing its first two games in Birmingham, where Jamea Harris lived. What's a Crimson Tide fan to do? By the sound of it at Legacy Arena yesterday, cheer for a 21-point Alabama win. But Birmingham resident Chris Hopkins (ph) said it doesn't mean the killing is forgotten.

CHRIS HOPKINS: It's unbelievable that somebody would do that in that situation for that reason. That's just crazy. That's never acceptable. But, I mean, (laughter) as a fan, you know, you still got to root for your team. So...

GOLDMAN: It's a split brain approach many college basketball fans may have to employ, as Alabama is expected to advance deep into the tournament.

Tom Goldman, NPR News, Sacramento.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.