The darlings of the tournament thus far, the Northwestern Wildcats, were simply overmatched Saturday from the get go against No. 1 seed Gonzaga.
Chris Collins was right but, oh, was he ever wrong. None of us will.
Among the crowds of 16,952 and 18,565 that attended the Cats' games against Vanderbilt and Gonzaga, respectively, fans wearing all shades and variations of NU apparel packed their assigned cheering section and scattered throughout the rest of the arena. Collins was not called for goaltending on the play.
Northwestern trimmed a 22-point deficit to five and had the ball when Gonzaga's Zach Collins reached up through the basket to reject Derek Pardon's shot with 4:54 left. But that all changed as Northwestern McIntosh free throws and Law's thunderous dunk off the rebound made it 5 point game at 63-58 forcing Gonzaga to call timeout with 5:29 remaining.
"It makes me feel great", he said to laughter.
Wildcats coach Chris Collins watched several Gonzaga games Friday night, including the lone loss to BYU. That was just as inexcusable as Collins charging the floor, bad followed by worse. "A guy puts his hand through the rim". But it's an honest mistake. "They delivered when we needed them to".
Can Collins live with his outburst? The Bulldogs, who led the nation in scoring margin at 23.2 points a game, survived a long second half scoring lull and got a break when officials missed a goaltending call on freshman Zach Collins. I think all of you would. The refs hit him with a technical foul.
"So I am very familiar with their games and how they play and who they are", said Bernard, who is spending his previous year of eligibility as a graduate student at Xavier after graduating from FAMU in his lone season there. Next was Bryant McIntosh, the plucky point guard who struggled shooting 6 of 19. Williams-Goss quickly dialed up a basket from the perimeter on the other end. All of them can hold them high.
The No. 8 seed Northwestern Wildcats were the darling of the NCAA Tournament, and they had an opportunity to keep on dancing with a win against No. 1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday. "A lot of teams would have rolled over at halftime".
Before we get to the bigger picture, the one of Northwestern finally kicking down the NCAA Tournament door, let's look at a smaller one that people naturally have made into the size of an IMAX screen. For Przemek Karnowski, the memories are a thing of the past.
"I thought I blocked the shot and they thought it was a foul", he said.
It was a good run while it lasted for Northwestern. We just came up a little bit too short. At a critical point in the second half of a very close game, official blew a call against Gonzaga that should have been interference. But Northwestern wasn't done making noise. "We knew when faced them and saw them on television that they're a team that's going to be in this tournament". Then the technical happened. Gonzaga responded like a team that has trailed only three times in the second half all season, like a group potentially headed to the Final Four.
Of course, playing an entire schedule against teams on the other side of the country would be a stretch.
If you're a Northwestern fan, though, there may be extra reason to cry this year.
On occasion, during this process, they might even drink. "But as the media's seen I've been pretty emotional the last couple weeks".
Northwestern's defense is one of the better units in the nation.
Leon added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Gators, who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a 65-39 win over the Virginia Cavaliers.