Amid all the blowouts so far administered by the contenders, the upsets restored some crackle — if not the desired outright mayhem — to the bracket after the least eventful opening day of the tournament since 2000, when the higher seeds went 15-1.
They went 14-2 on Thursday, a trend that continued Friday in the first five games — but almost didn’t. Arkansas scored the final 7 points while benefiting from a controversial call in the final seconds to defeat Seton Hall, 77-71, in the South. Trailing by a point with about 20 seconds left, the No. 9 Pirates — who lost in their only national championship game appearance, to Michigan in 1989, after a dubious foul call — set about trying to foul Arkansas in order to regain possession quickly.
Desi Rodriguez did so, pushing Jaylen Barford in the back, causing him to fall. The officials called an immediate foul, and after reviewing the play, ruled a Flagrant-1 foul, which awarded Arkansas two foul shots and possession. Barford made both free throws, and Daryl Macon followed by making one of two to seal the victory.