Observations from the Tournament

Brian Koziol
March 16, 2017 - 5:13 pm

The excitement certainly lived up to the hype during the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon at KeyBank Center. WGR's Brian Koziol and Pat Malacaro were courtside for all of the action, and share their observations.

  • Notre Dame has had its share of close games, coach Mike Brey said in-jest that they knew they were “the first game of the tournament, we got everybody ready, gave everybody a show, we know what we are supposed to get to do” . He credited his defense and he also credited his team for not panicking and said they were confident throughout
  • Brey on the dramatic finish: “We had an unbelievable run in close games, I think we are 18-1 in our last but we’ve been so many of them, we really believe and in this tournament, guys just felt as this was getting close, that hey, this is what we did last year, we just stole wins to get to the Elite 8
  • Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson was very good, he was dominant inside as a post player in the game against Princeton. Colson isn’t used as much inside during the normal ACC schedule of games but felt today with his size advantage that they would look to post him up as often as possible.
  • Notre Dame was very smart with the basketball, committing only six turnovers. Matt Harrell, their point guard is a big reason why.
  • Princeton is normally a very good 3-point shooting team the Irish did a nice job defensively forcing the Tigers to 8 of 31 from downtown
  • The crowd, which visibly looked heavy on the side of the Irish, seemed to get louder as the possible upset was close to happening. Most of the neutral fans seemed to be pulling for Princeton to pull off the first big shocker of the tournament.
  • West Virginia, nicknamed “Press Virginia” gave Bucknell a ton of headaches during the 1st half.  The Mountaineers size advantage led to Bucknell turnovers and some easy baskets.
  • Shout out to my HS Alma Mater, Lancaster High School, as the High School Marching Band played for Bucknell (who did not send a band), with the students playing the part all wearing orange Bucknell t-shirts. Way to go Legends!  #ClassOf96 
  • Bucknell wore orange jerseys with sleeves. You see this look now often in the NBA. If you recall, the Cavs worse their black jerseys with sleeves for the NBA Finals. I can’t recall seeing it in college too often. For what it’s worth, Pat Malacaro, sitting with me courtside, dislikes the look.
  • Regardless of your media beverage of choice (for me, Diet Coke), you must pour into the approved NCAA cup. No other sponsors allowed courtside. The NCAA also covered almost all evidence of the Sabres playing here. The Sabres logos were covered on the scoreboard at Key Bank Center. Only evidence was in the rafters, with the team banners and retired numbers still hanging.
  • West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has clause in contract for 25K bonus for every time he beats Kansas. He then donates it to cancer research.
  • Mount St Mary’s can “brag” that they have the smallest Division-I player in the country.  Junior guard Junior Robinson is listed at 5-5. He scored 23 points in the “First Four” win over New Orleans which sent Mount St Mary’s to Buffalo for their matchup with Villanova.
  • While Mount St Mary’s was giving Villanova a scare in the 1st half, the thought, of course, was are we about to see a 16-seed beat a 1-seed for the first time ever?  Well no. To look back the closest a 16-seed came to beating a 1-seed was in 1989. With Georgetown outlasting Princeton 50-49. A more recent 1-seed scare came in 2013 when 1-seeded Kansas beat Western Kentucky 64-57. 
  • Two-time US Open golf champion Andy North attended the night session, sitting in the Wisconsin section.  North was born in Wisconsin and is a regular at their sporting events.
  • Love this. Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams practices with his team on how he wants them to stand & act for the National Anthem. He does this every season.

Photo courtesy: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

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