March Madness is in full swing with numerous local teams involved and here is the latest…..
The Illinois Fighting Illini won their first NCAA Tournament game in two years with Friday’s victory over Colorado by the final score of 57-49. The Illini were able to contain Buffaloes star forward Andre Roberson by limiting him to 9 points and 8 rebounds. They also managed to get him to foul out. Nnanna Egwu did an excellent job keeping Robertson under wraps.
John Groce’s team also did well against Colorado’s reserves as they only allowed five points off of the Colorado bench. D.J Richardson, Tracy Abrams, and Brandon Paul all scored in double figures despite the fact that the team only shot 30 percent from the field. The Illini who are the seventh seed in the East Region will take on the second seeded Miami Hurricanes on Sunday.
Miami was one of the best teams in college hoops this year. They won the regular season title of the Atlantic Coast Conference and at one point was ranked the number one team in the country. They are heavily favored this year and the Illini will have quite the task on Sunday. Of course the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will wish they could play on Sunday, but that will not be the case.
The seventh seeded Irish of the West Region suffered yet another early round NCAA Tournament loss as they were embarrassed by tenth seeded Iowa State with a final of 76-58. Iowa ran away with this one early as Mike Bray’s team looked lost on defense from the get go. Iowa State scored in every way possible. Inside, outside, in transition, and off of turnovers.
Notre Dame’s star guard Jerian Grant was held to just nine points while also committing five turnovers. The Cyclones shot 40 percent from the floor and left Irish fans shaking their heads in disbelief. ISU will play the second seeded Ohio State on Sunday. The Cyclones better enjoy this victory now because the Buckeyes are a Final Four favorite this year and are loaded with talent.
On Thursday night, Bryce Drew’s 14th seeded Valparaiso Crusaders were eliminated by the third seeded Michigan State Spartans 65-54 in the Midwest Region. Perhaps the Bryce Drew game-winning shot clip from 1998 will finally stop airing on television.
The other tournament involving local teams is the College Insider Tournament. After coming off an historic first round victory over Chicago State on Wednesday night, The UIC Flames will hit the road for their second round match up. It was announced on Friday afternoon that the Flames will take on Northern Iowa in the second round of the CIT.
Illinois-Chicago leads the all-time series with UNI 11-10 and they have a lot of talent heading into this one. The Panthers from Cedar Rapids will have their work cut out for them on Saturday night. The Bradley Braves also participated in this year’s CIT. They defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay in Peoria on Wednesday night. They will get another home game this weekend when Tulane makes it’s way to Carver Arena for that second round match up.
Finally, things are almost official for “The Catholic Seven”, or should I say the “new” Big East Conference. You already know that the re-birth of the Big East will take place on July 1st. Here are the newest developments…….
Xavier, Creighton, and Butler have decided to join which will make this a 10-team conference. Also, the league has signed a 12-year television deal with Fox Sports to carry many of the conference games including the new Big East Conference Tournament which will still take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In August, Fox Sports is expected to return with a national network, similar to the one they had from 1997-2005. The Speed Channel will become Fox Sports 1, and Fuel TV will become Fox Sports 2. All of this will take place in August. The future looks bright for all parties involved, hopefully DePaul’s basketball program will start to head in the right direction as well.
Saturday night, I will be covering the Chicago Rush’s 2013 season opener from Allstate Arena. The arch-rival Iowa Barnstormers will be in town with former Rush head coach Mike Hohensee calling the shots. It’s always a bittersweet moment when “Coach Ho” comes back to Rosemont. But that is what makes this rivalry so special.
Kickoff will be at 7pm, and always you can get game updates from me via Twitter @GabeSalgado82. Along with the hashtags #Q101Sports and #REDemption…….