March Madness goes into full swing later today as the top college hoops teams in the nation test their mettle on the road to the Final Four. Things got started a little early for Notre Dame and Rutgers, who were both slotted into a play-in game last night in Dayton, Ohio. The schedule said March 16, but the game ended up lasting until St. Patrick’s Day.
The luck of the Irish was with Notre Dame as they hit a last-second shot to secure their spot in the tournament. It was noted during the broadcast that the lengthy game had gone past midnight, which meant I would finish on St. Patrick’s Day. The coincidence was not lost on Irish coach Mike Brey.
“Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone here, and you noticed Paul’s shot went in at 12:02 on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe there was a little bit of karma there.”
The game was close throughout. Rutgers enjoyed a five-point halftime lead. Notre Dame turned it up and was able to take the game to overtime. One extra frame was not enough to decide a winner.
Paul Atkinson dropped 26 points including the decisive bucket for Notre Dame. The Irish victory pared the NCAA Tournament field down to 64 teams. Mike Brey and his squad will face the #6 seeded Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday.
“Luck of the Irish” is usually a phrase reserved for visiting fans who cite questionable calls when their team visits South Bend. On this special occasion, it was a little more than that. The Irish are going to the big dance in style.
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