The Orange entered the tournament without starting centre Fab Melo, who was declared ineligible for academic reasons, and they almost left early with a piece of history no team wants. Instead, Syracuse (32-2) will play eighth-seeded Kansas State in the third round Saturday.
The Orange overcame a terrible game from 3-point range (5 of 23) to beat the much-smaller Bulldogs (24-10), who had talked Wednesday of becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1.
J.P. Primm had 18 points for UNC-Asheville.
Montreal's Kris Joseph had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Orange.
The Bulldogs were up 34-30 at halftime — the third 16 seed to lead at the break — but the Orange took the lead for good with 6:17 left on a turnaround jumper by Southerland. The Bulldogs were within three points three times in the final 1:04 but got no closer.
No. 2 OHIO STATE 78, No. 15 LOYOLA, MD. 59
Deshaun Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Ohio State.
Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes (28-7), who dominated the smaller Greyhounds inside, finishing with a 49-24 rebound advantage.
Ohio State will play seventh-seeded Gonzaga in the third round on Saturday at the Consol Energy Center.
The Buckeyes, playing on the same court top-seeded Syracuse struggled to beat North Carolina-Asheville hours earlier, twice took a 15-point lead in the first half. The Greyhounds got within 42-31 at halftime but the Buckeyes went on to lead by as many as 20 in the second half.
Erik Etherly had 19 points for the Greyhounds (24-9), the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, who were in the tournament for the second time and first since 1994.
No. 4 WISCONSIN 73, No. 13 MONTANA 49
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Ryan Evans scored 18 points and Jordan Taylor added 17 points and six assists for Wisconsin, which ended Montana's school-record 14-game winning streak.
The Badgers (25-9) improved to 10-1 in NCAA tournament openers under Bo Ryan, the winningest coach in the program's history.
Wisconsin will face fifth-seeded Vanderbilt in the third round Saturday at the Pit.
Art Steward's 18 points led the Grizzles (25-7), who were familiar with the Badgers' style because one of their assistants, Freddie Owens, played at Wisconsin from 2001-04. Still, his inside information couldn't help the Grizzlies pull off the upset.
No. 5 VANDERBILT 79, No. 12 HARVARD 70
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — John Jenkins made all six of his free throws down the stretch and finished with 27 points to help Vanderbilt hold off Harvard in a game billed as "The Brain Bowl."
Brad Tinsley scored 16 for the Commodores (25-10), who followed last weekend's stunner over top-ranked Kentucky with a win over a school many consider to be a No. 1 — in the classroom, that is.
The Crimson (26-5) won the Ivy League and made the tournament for the first time since 1946. Laurent Rivard of Saint-Bruno, Que., led Harvard with 20 points, but the Southeastern Conference tournament champions built an 18-point lead on the Ivy Leaguers, then held them off despite not making a field goal for the last 5:22.
No. 7 GONZAGA 77, No. 10 WEST VIRGINIA 54
Robert Sacre of North Vancouver, B.C., and Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points apiece as Gonzaga routed West Virginia.
Kevin Pangos of Holland Landing, Ont., added 13 points and five assists for the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (26-6), who will play Ohio State in the third round on Saturday.
Gary Browne led the Mountaineers (19-14) with 15 points off the bench and Kevin Jones scored 13 in his final game for West Virginia, handed its worst post-season defeat in 28 years despite a decided home-court advantage.
Gonzaga never let the crowd get into it. The Bulldogs took control during a 13-0 run midway through the first half and cruised, shooting 56 per cent from the floor while harassing the Mountaineers into tough shots all night.
No. 8 KANSAS ST. 70, No. 9 SOUTHERN MISS 64
Rodney McGruder scored 30 points and Jordan Henriquez added 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks to lead Kansas State over Southern Mississippi.
The Wildcats (22-10) advanced past their opening tournament game for the third straight year.
Neil Watson led Southern Miss (25-9) with 16 points, LaShay Page had 15 and Kentucky transfer Darnell Dodson scored all 14 of his points in the second half. But the Golden Eagles let a chance to win their first-ever tournament game slip away in the final minutes.
No. 3 MARQUETTE 88, No. 14 BYU 68
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jae Crowder had 25 points and 16 rebounds, Darius Johnson-Odom scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half and Marquette withstood another furious rally by BYU.
Brandon Davies had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Cougars (26-9), who looked for a brief while as if they might have a chance to top their historic comeback in the First Four on Tuesday night. After trailing by as many as 19 in the first half, BYU got within 52-46 with 15:28 left. But the Golden Eagles (28-5) were simply too big and too strong.
Marquette (26-7) will play sixth-seeded Murray State in the third round Saturday.
No. 6 MURRAY STATE 58, No. 11 COLORADO STATE 41
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Isaiah Canaan scored 15 points in Murray State's return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year wait, and Donte Poole added 13 to lead the Racers past Colorado State.
Canaan mishandled the ball in the closing seconds of a two-point loss to Butler in 2010 as a freshman. He's the leader of this group now, and Murray State (31-1) expects a long run in this tournament as the mid-major darlings.
Poole scored Murray State's first eight points early, and the Racers shook off an 11-day wait with an 18-2 rally to start the second half.
Pierce Hornung led Colorado State (20-12) with 12 points and matched a career high with 17 rebounds for the Rams, who were making their first tournament appearance since 2003.
No. 4 LOUISVILLE 69, No. 13 DAVIDSON 62
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Peyton Siva scored 17 points and Louisville finally moved on in the NCAA tournament by beating Davidson.
After getting ousted in their first tournament game the past two seasons, coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals (27-9) advanced to play fifth-seeded New Mexico in the third round.
Siva, who had plenty of local support at the Rose Garden from his hometown of Seattle, added six assists to lead the Big East tournament champions, who are making their sixth straight appearance in the NCAAs. Chane Behanan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, who led by as many as 14.
Jake Cohen had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Davidson (25-8), which was making its 11th tournament appearance and first since 2008, when Stephen Curry led the underdog Wildcats to the round of eight.
No. 5 NEW MEXICO 75, No. 12 LONG BEACH STATE 68
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Kendall Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and bottled up Long Beach State star Casper Ware defensively to help New Mexico hold off the 49ers.
Drew Gordon added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Lobos.
With most of the 49ers' defensive efforts focused on slowing down Gordon, New Mexico's punishing forward, Williams came up with key shots when the opportunities were there. The Lobos (28-6) then hit their free throws in the final minute to close it out.
Williams' length and quickness bothered Ware. The Big West player of the year went nearly 25 minutes without a field goal and finished with 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
T.J. Robinson added 12 points and 14 rebounds for Long Beach State (25-9).
No. 1 KENTUCKY 81, No. 16 WESTERN KENTUCKY 66
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Terrence Jones had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Doron Lamb scored 16 and Kentucky began its quest for an eighth national title with a staggering display of athleticism in a victory over Western Kentucky.
On a day when Syracuse nearly became the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a 16, the Wildcats (33-2) clearly relished their growing role as favourites. Freshman and player of the year candidate Anthony Davis added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for Kentucky, which was never seriously threatened.
Western Kentucky (16-19) saw its improbable seven-game winning streak end. Freshman T.J. Price scored 16 of his career-high 21 points in the first half before fouling out late.
No. 3 BAYLOR 68, No. 14 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 60
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Pierre Jackson scored 18 points and Baylor held off South Dakota State to advance to the third round.
The Bears (28-7) fell behind by 12 in the first half before taking a 36-28 halftime lead that they never relinquished. But it was a nail-biter.
Making their first trip to the NCAA tournament, the Jackrabbits (27-8) misfired on a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left that would have made it one-point game. Then, the Bears iced it at the line.
Brady Heslip of Burlington, Ont., added 17 points for the Bears, who will face Colorado next.
No. 4 INDIANA 79, No. 13 NEW MEXICO STATE 66.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jordan Hulls went on a second-half shooting spree and finished with 22 points, and Indiana rolled past New Mexico State.
Making its return after a four-year tournament absence, the Hoosiers (26-8) picked up their first tournament win since beating Gonzaga in 2007 on a night their main stars — Cody Zeller and Christian Watford — did the heavy lifting in the opening minutes then watched Hulls and others carry the load.
Hulls shot 8 of 12, including 7 of 8 in the second half. Zeller, Watford and Will Sheehey all finished with 14 points. The Hoosiers will face upstart No. 12 seed VCU in Saturday's third round.
Wendell McKines led New Mexico State (26-10) with 15 points.
No. 8 IOWA STATE 77, No. 9 CONNECTICUT 64
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Chris Allen scored 20 points to lead four Iowa State players in double figures, and the Cyclones scored their last 14 at the free-throw line.
Connecticut's loss marked the first time since UCLA in 1996 that the defending champs were beaten in their opening game. Huskies coach Jim Calhoun didn't even wait for the final buzzer, heading for halfcourt with about 4 seconds left to congratulate Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.
After leading by 22 in the first half, Iowa State (23-10) withstood a UConn rally in the second half. Ryan Boatright went on a one-man tear, making three straight baskets to pull Connecticut within 58-52 with 8:24 to play. But the Huskies (20-14) couldn't get any closer, going scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes.
Iowa State will face No. 1 seed Kentucky in the third round Saturday.
No. 11 COLORADO 68, No. 6 UNLV 64
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Freshman reserve Askia Booker scored 16 points Thursday night and Colorado held off a furious UNLV rally.
The Buffaloes (24-11) led 49-29 with just under 15 minutes remaining, then the Rebels (26-9) went on a 26-8 run to cut the margin to two at the 4:20 mark.
But UNLV missed its next seven shots and Carlon Brown took a full-court pass for a windmill dunk to help the Buffs gather themselves and win in their first NCAA appearance since 2003.
Austin Dufault finished with 14 points and Andre Roberson had 12 points and 16 rebounds for Colorado, which plays Baylor on Saturday.
Anthony Marshall had 15 for UNLV, which went 9 for 36 from 3-point range.
No. 12 VCU 62, No. 5 WICHITA STATE 59
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Bradford Burgess hit a key 3-pointer with 1:33 left and Shaka Smart coached VCU to another tournament surprise, holding off Wichita State.
The Rams (29-6) led by as many as 13 in the second half, but the Shockers closed to 54-53 on Garrett Stutz's layup with 5:39 left. Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer for the Rams, and Joe Ragland answered with his own for Wichita State.
Toure Murry made a 3 that gave Wichita State the lead, but Burgess came back with his big shot to give the Rams a 60-59 edge. Darius Theus' runner from about 6 feet provided the final margin.
Stutz's long jumper just before the buzzer was off for Wichita State (26-6).
VCU made a stunning run all the way from the First Four to the Final Four last season.