In the latest installment in his "Best Pro Players in School History" interview series, CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Drake legend Willie Wise, who was also a member of the Bulldogs' lone Final Four team back in 1969. "Wonderous Willie" went on to have a successful career in the ABA with the Utah Stars, then moving on to play in Denver and Seattle after the ABA/NBA merger.
#5 Michigan St Spartans
After a rather routine Friday the hope was that Saturday would provide even more surprises. But few people had in mind what the Northern Iowa Panthers did in Oklahoma City when it came to the shocker of the day. The Missouri Valley champions got off to a quick start early and did not let up until the game was decided, knocking off the top overall seed 69-67 to move on to the Sweet 16 next week in St. Louis. Ali Farokhmanesh led the way with 16 points, knocking down what has to be the shot of the Tournament thus far to give Northern Iowa a 66-62 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
In one of the wildest opening days in the history of the NCAA Tournament it took a lot to shock the college basketball world. And 97 points may qualify as "a lot", as in the number of points the MAC champion Ohio Bobcats scored in their 97-83 win over third-seeded Georgetown in a Midwest Region first round game in Providence. One-time Indiana Hoosier Armon Bassett scored 32 points while point guard D.J. Cooper added 23 points and eight assists in a dominant performance for John Groce's squad.
Wichita State Shockers
Missouri Valley Conference (25-9, 12-6)
Northern Iowa Panthers
Missouri Valley Conference (28-4, 15-3)
Northern Iowa became the fifth team to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, beating Wichita State 67-52 to win their second consecutive Missouri Valley Conference tournament title. Trailing by three at the half, Ben Jacobson's Panthers outscored the Shockers 39-21 in the second half, holding Wichita State to 23.1% shooting in the final twenty minutes. Kwadzo Ahelegbe led the way with 24 points while Jake Koch added 13 off the bench. Koch's performance highlighted a solid effort from the UNI reserves, who helped spark the decisive 23-3 run.
Cornell got things started on Friday night with their third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and three more guaranteed themselves spots in the Field of 65 on Saturday. In the most anticipated of the three finals it was Murray State picking up their 30th win of the season, dethroning defending Ohio Valley champ Morehead State 62-51 in Nashville. Isaiah Canaan scored 16 points off the bench to lead the way for Billy Kennedy's team, who will represent the OVC in the Big Dance for the first time since 2006.
In regards to bubble teams Wednesday saw a lot of teams leave the door open for someone to sneak in and grab an at-large bid, and it's made quite the case why we're just fine with sixty-five teams. But with this arguably being the weakest bubble pool in the 64/65 era there are ample opportunities for teams seemingly off the radar to sneak in and grab a bid. One of those teams is Dayton, who visits a Richmond team that looks to be a safe bet for the Big Dance.
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