Add two more new names to the Big Dance

SONG SELECTION:  Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Waiting Is The Hardest Part”

For the second time in five nights, another formerly excellent point guard is leading a team as a coach to the NCAA Tournament.

On Saturday night in Cleveland, the all-time leaders in assists in NCAA history while with Duke (1989-1992), formerly bratty point guard Bobby Hurley takes the Buffalo Bulls (not to confuse nicknames with their NFL counterparts in the Buffalo Bills) with a narrow 89-84 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas–even though CMU shot 50 percent from the field.  But it was the defense in the final minutes that turned the game in the Bulls’ favor.

On this very busy Saturday…another first time entrant has entered the Big Dance from the Big West Conference.  The UC Irvine Anteaters beat up on Hawaii 67-58 in Anaheim to earn their first ever tournament berth.

Outside of that, the rest of the games pretty much were scripted according to form–with only Eastern Washington winning 69-65 on Montana’s home floor for the Big Sky (EWU’s first appearance since 2004).

The rest of the games which decided bids, which we already know most of the teams listed below will be dancing in a little over 16 hours time:

  • The ACC had Notre Dame capturing its’ first tournament since moving out of the Big East with a convincing 90-82 decision over North Carolina.  Trailing 64-56 with nine minutes remaining, the Fighting Irish went on a 34-18 run to win convincingly.
  • The Big East (albeit some people who have AT&T U-Verse could not view that game on Fox Sports 1 due to unspecified reasons) saw Villanova retain their Number 1 status with a nice 69-52 win over Xavier.  It marked Villanova’s first tournament win of any kind since 1995.
  • Iowa State put the clamps on Kansas in the second half by scoring 47 points and holding the Jayhawks to only 29 in a thrilling 70-66 decision.  This marked the second straight year that the Cyclones defeated Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk in the Big 12 title game at Kansas City.
  • Finally, these schools repeated as conference champions for the second straight year (sadly, the losers will either be NIT or CIT bound):  Stephen F. Austin repeated in the Southland cruising past their in-state arch rivals in Sam Houston State, 83-70.  Also returning to the Big Dance is New Mexico State, with a rather easy 80-61 victory over hapless Seattle.

My final blog before my annual lengthy review of the brackets and seeings will talk about the five remaining games for Sunday afternoon and a final side-by-side comparison of the remaining bubble teams that may have a small chance to actually be the last team mentioned shortly after 6:30 p.m. Eastern time on CBS.

Please try to get some much needed rest, everybody.  See you all in time for the final games before the draw takes place in Indianapolis.  Take care!

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