That was only one day of the NCAA tournament. There is even more action today. Shake off that hangover, get to work, and find a dark corner in which you’ll be undisturbed as you stream today’s mid-day games. Here we go.
March Madness, Dog Gone It!
We had some good ones yesterday. Not only did our very own Fighting Irish hold off a late charge from a very good Princeton Tigers basketball team, but every other 5-12 matchup was as interesting as was advertised. Notre Dame will face Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers squad on Saturday in a vintage good versus evil Big East matchup. Visions of Kevin Pittsnoggle and Dennis Kılıçlı will haunt all of our dreams tonight as we try to rest up for the round of 32.
In the east region, fellow ACC member, five seed, and detested nemesis the Virginia Cavaliers found themselves down 15 in the first half against 12-seed UNC Wilmington. The Hoos would find a way to win it in the end, scraping by with a late Marial Shayok runner and a Seahawks turnover. If you’re participating in our March Madness pool and are at all familiar with my bracket, then you’ll know that I am not very smart and got my 5-12 matchup upset pick wrong. Dang.
We did get one 5-12 upset on Thursday, though. The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders spoiled the Minnesota Gopher’s NCAA Tournament experience with an 81-72 victory. About time to take those boys seriously, don’t ya think?
Elsewhere in games involving ACC foes we are more than familiar with, the Florida State Seminoles (the three seed that Notre Dame beat twice) pulled out a win over in-state rival the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. It was one of two close late-night games on Thursday, with FSU triumphing 86-80.
While fortune was on the side of the Seminoles, it was not so kind to another ACC team. In an 8-9 matchup, the Virginia Tech Hokies took the Wisconsin Badgers down to the wire, ultimately losing 84-74. The Badgers are battle tested, as Notre Dame fans saw last year, and move on. Are we having fun yet?
On College Basketball in Indiana
Now, yesterday morning our own Bobby Norell, IU alum, gentleman and scholar, gave us a great roundup of exactly what’s going on with Indiana Hoosiers basketball. Then, Thursday morning, Indiana university announced that head coach Tom Crean had been relieved of his duties.
It’s a tough break for coach Crean, who Notre Dame fans should be familiar with from his time as head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles and their many show downs with the Fighting Irish in the Big East days (and prior). The basketball program at Indiana is the state’s blue blood, but like Bobby said yesterday, the blue bloods aren’t doing so hot.
Meanwhile, coach Mike Brey and his Fighting Irish won their seventh NCAA Tournament game in three years coming off of an appearance in the ACC tournament championship. In addition, the Irish were ACC champions in 2015. You know, at a football school.
Over in West Lafayette, the Purdue Boilermakers won the Big Ten regular season outright. Caleb Swanigan is an absolute beast and the Big Ten player of the year, unanimous first-team all Big Ten, and he was named first team All American by the USBWA and Sporting News. Purdue fans can be hot or cold on their coach Matt Painter, but the Boilermakers are seeing some significant success, including winning their round-of-64 game in this year’s tournament over Vermont.
In Indianapolis, the Butler Bulldogs only put together a 28-7 season so far, following that up with a round-of-64 win over Winthrop on Thursday. Decidedly not firing their coach. And those are just the Crossroads Classic teams. IPFW beat Indiana head-to-head this year. Yikes.
Basketball is Pretty Much All That’s Happening
We’re all dialed in when it comes to the NCAA tournament. AP ran a story earlier this week on Notre Dame’s experience heading into the NCAA tournament, fulfilling Mike Brey’s wish of juniors and seniors who have put in the work being the subject of NCAA basketball coverage. It’s about time, I guess?
Unfortunately, the look of confidence wavered in Notre Dame’s first NCAA tournament game. Matt Farrell, V.J. Beachem, and Steve Vasturia all looked a little shaken as Princeton made their late run. Fortunately, the Irish got out of dodge and live to fight another day.
Shifting focus to other notable NCAA tournament games, the end of the Northwestern Wildcat’s very first NCAA game was... interesting. Northwestern was seemingly in control the entire game, but the Vanderbilt Commodores took the lead late. Then things went a little nuts; here’s a really good run down. There were a few lead changes and a huge mistake by Vandy, and it ended with Northwestern’s first ever NCAA tournament win. Good for them.
Other notable basketball happenings: do you want to read about how Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright (and other coaches) dresses? To be frank, I don’t, but there is a mention of Mike Brey. I’ll save you the click: Coach Wright thinks Coach Brey’s no-tie approach to sideline apparel is “casual”. There is no mention of a mock turtleneck.
And lastly, if you’re into this sort of thing, the Boston Herald profiled each Massachusetts native participating in the NCAA tournament as part of their coverage. Included is Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson, who is originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He’s making more than just the northeast proud with his play this year.
And the headline is a pun. “Mass” appeal. Ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.