Harvard's Kenyatta Smith, left, catches a pass as New Mexico's Cameron Bairstow defends in the first half as the Crimson engineered the NCAA Tournament's biggest upsets so far Thursday. (George Frey/Associated Press)
Salt Lake City — Give those Harvard kids an A-plus in another subject: Bracketbusting 101.
Wesley Saunders scored 18 points and Laurent Rivard made five 3-pointers to help the 14th-seeded Crimson pull the biggest upset in Thursday's flurry of NCAA tournament games, a 68-62 win over No. 3 New Mexico.
The Ivy League advanced for the first time since a very good Cornell team made the regional semifinals in 2010. The Mountain West Conference, judged one of the top two leagues in college basketball all season, fell to 1-3 so far this week.
While it may have been upset — Harvard's first-ever win in three measly trips to the tournament — it didn't look anything like a fluke.
The Crimson (20-9) put the clamps down on New Mexico's Tony Snell, holding him to nine points on 4-for-12 shooting after he dominated in the MWC tournament. They banged inside with Lobos big men Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, whose 22 points provided New Mexico's only consistent offense.
Mostly, they showed none of the jitters that marked their trip to the tournament last year — a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt in Harvard's first NCAA appearance since 1946.
"YYYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!! HARVARD winssss!!! hahahahhah i told you" tweeted Jeremy Lin, Harvard's most famous basketball alumnus.
Rivard went 6 of 7 from 3 in that one — played on New Mexico's home court in The Pit — and was clearly pumped for an encore. He was 5 of 9 this time, with three of them coming in the first half, while Harvard was holding a small lead and, more importantly, answering every surge the Lobos (29-6) threw at them. Rivard finished with 17 points.
Christian Webster was more of a role player last year, but jumped to the fore in 2013; he finished with 11 points and was gesturing after each of his three made 3s, even pointing to his forehead after making one from the corner in the first half.
Yep, these smart kids really can play.
Tommy Amaker outcoached his contemporary, Steve Alford, exacting revenge of sorts from when Alford's Indiana team beat Amaker and Duke back in the 1987 regional semifinals.
Based on their regular-season and conference tournament wins, the Lobos were a popular pick to head to the Final Four this season. The school even gave Alford a new, 10-year contract Wednesday that called for a $125,000 bonus for a Final Four trip.
They'll save the money but feel the pain.
And Harvard — yes, that school we've all heard of, but not usually this time of year — is moving on.
Gonzaga 64, Southern 58
In Salt Lake City, Utah, It was every frontrunner's nightmare.
Top-seeded Gonzaga ran into a No. 16 seed that wasn't playing like one, a crowd itching for an upset and the very real prospect of making history in a most embarrassing way.
Somehow, the Zags maneuvered their way out of that mess with a win over Southern University, but not before they provided plenty of fodder for all those who wondered if that small school from the small conference really belonged at the top of the West Region bracket.
"The more I watched film on them, the more I thought, 'This could be a real grinder,'" coach Mark Few said of the Jaguars, champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. "They don't give you many easy opportunities. They're very patient on offense."
Gonzaga's win wasn't safely in hand until the final buzzer sounded. No. 1 seeds improved to 113-0 since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Led by Derick Beltran's 21 points, Southern (23-10) made life hard on the West Coast Conference champions from beginning to end, blocking eight shots, making 10 3-pointers, harassing its star player, Kelly Olynyk, and never letting the Bulldogs out of striking range.
Olynyk scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to help the Zags (32-2) advance to Saturday's game against Wichita State.
But there was no celebration. Just a big sigh of relief.
"That crowd gets going, everyone wants to see that first 1-16 loss," Few said. "My guys deserve credit. They showed a lot of poise down the stretch when things weren't going their way."
And the Jaguars, the team from the school in Baton Rouge, La., with enrollment 6,900, never stopped scrapping.
This was a program nearly wiped off the map three years ago because of an NCAA investigation into problems in the classroom. They still have players on the roster who were around for the 20-plus-loss seasons that ensued. Their coach, Roman Banks, looked to Gonzaga — tiny school with big dreams — as the program his players should try to emulate.
"We were basically an unknown ballclub that showed they can play the game of basketball," Banks said. "But we came here to win a ballgame, not play a ballgame."
Though Olynyk was the force that kept Gonzaga ahead through the second half, it was a pair of 3-pointers — one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pangos — that gave the Bulldogs their small cushion after Southern tied things at 56 with 3:45 left.
Bell's 3 made it 59-56 after Beltran hit a 14-footer on the baseline to close out a 15-4 Southern run and tie the game.
Beltran answered with two free throws to cut the deficit to one, but Gonzaga responded by working the ball to Pangos, whose 3 made it a four-point game.
Yondarius Johnson and Malcom Miller both had open looks on the next possession for Southern but neither could convert.
Wichita State 73, Pittsburgh 55
In Salt Lake City, Utah, Wichita State's Tekele Cotton didn't just shut down Pitt's leading scorer, he had him in tears after the game.
The Shockers' guard held Tray Woodall to two points while coming up with five steals and a key 3-point basket in helping ninth-seeded Wichita State to a win over eighth-seeded Pitt in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
At the news conference after the game, Woodall broke down and had to be comforted by Dante Taylor, who wrapped an arm around his teammate's shoulder.
"It's a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of worst game I've ever played," said Woodall, who came into the game averaging 11.8 points. "I'm sorry. I let my team down."
Cotton, a 6-2 sophomore, hit his 3-pointer to start as 12-4 run and added a fast-break dunk to put the Shockers ahead 45-35 with 10:31 remaining. Woodall finished just 1 of 12 from the field, and 0 of 5 from 3-point range.
The game was a physical one, with players receiving an occasional elbow in the mouth or to the head.
Malcolm Armstead led Wichita State (27-8) with 22 points, Cleanthony Early added 21 and Carl Hall had 11. Freshman Steven Adams led Pitt (24-9) with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Shockers will face the winner of the No. 1-ranked Gonzaga-Southern game.
Arizona 81, Belmont 64
In Salt Lake City, Belmont is winless in six NCAA tournament appearances and the Bruins have lost big in five of those, including its loss to sixth-seeded Arizona.
Still, coach Rick Byrd said this year's team overachieved.
"It's hard, but I told those guys in there, I wouldn't have given them a chance to win this season (after losing three All-Conference players)," Byrd said.
Instead the Bruins went on to win 26 games and the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, and even pick up Top 25 votes along the way while relying on plenty of 3-point shots.
Belmont never got going offensively against Arizona, starting 1 of 11 overall and 0 of 4 from beyond the arc before finishing at 39 percent shooting and 30 percent on 3s.
"I think this was pretty simple," Byrd said. "Arizona outplayed us."
Mark Lyons scored 23 points to lead Arizona (26-7), which used its huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7).
Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot the Bruins from 3-point range.
The Wildcats made 9 of 17 3-pointers, including a critical one from Solomon Hill with 4:40 remaining to stop an 11-2 Belmont run, and shot 57 percent overall.
Bruins guard Ian Clark entered shooting better than 46 percent from 3-point range, tops in the nation, but was 3 of 8 from beyond the arc.
"I don't blame people for picking Belmont," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "They have a great backcourt. They earned the seed they got. You look at them on paper and I don't know if anybody relishes seeing them in their bracket."
Kerron Johnson led Belmont with 22 points and Clark finished with 21.
Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson added 12 points each for Arizona, which led 32-20 at halftime after closing on an 11-2 run.
Byrd didn't realize Arizona's defense could be so formidable.
Belmont's lowest field goal total this season entering the NCAAs was 22 against Kansas. Arizona held the Bruins to 20.
Arizona led by as many as 21 points, 64-43, with 7:45 remaining before Belmont went on a 10-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Clark and J.J. Mann. The 3s came just seven seconds apart as Mann stole the inbounds pass.