The Time? 1997.
The place? Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.
The team? The Clemson Tigers, seeded fourth in the Midwest region.
The result? A two game winning streak that send the Tigers straight into the Sweet Sixteen.
It seems like only yesterday that Rick Barnes was leading Clemson to back-to-back NCAA tournament berths, creating a spark in Tiger Town that hasn't been seen in years.
That year, led by Greg Buckner, the Tigers steamrolled Miami of Ohio in the first round, 68-56. Buckner scored 22 points, and Clemson jumped out to a 39-25 halftime lead before holding off a late Redskins run to advance to the second round.
Two days later, the Tigers took care of business against Shea Seals and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Terrell McIntyre scored 16 points, and the Tigers held Seals to just 5 points to defeat fifth-seeded Tulsa, 65-59.
It would be the first time since 1990 that the Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16.
|Harold Jamison was a big reason for the Tigers' success in the mid-1990's, but he would manage just 3 points in the NCAA Tournament against Minnesota.|
Trailing by double digits throughout most of the first half, the Tigers would rebound to send the game into overtime on a gliding, length-of-the-court drive by Tony Christie as time expired.
Clemson jumped ahead early in the first extra session, leading 80-74 before the Gophers would rally to force the game into a second overtime.
Jackson, who ended the game with 36 points, combined with a Minnesota defense that limited Clemson to just 4 points, would be the difference in the extra session.
Minnesota eliminated the Tigers, 90-84, ending any hopes of a possible run to the Final Four for the first time in school history.
Clemson would never reach that same level of success under Barnes, as the next season the sixth seeded Tigers were eliminated in the first round by Western Michigan.
It seems like just yesterday, but in fact, it was 7 years ago that the Tigers last made a big run in the NCAA Tournament.
Here's to hoping Coach Purnell can quickly get things turned around.
Call it a gut feeling, call it instinct, but a good pick to get the early round exit rests squarely in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Look for N.C. State to be a prime candidate to make a first round exit this year. The Wolfpack (20-9), seeded third in the Phoenix Regional, will face off with 14th seeded UL-Lafayette (20-7).
The thought process here is simple, the Rajin' Cajuns implore an up-and-down attack that features a lot of three point shooting and long rebounds. Never mind the fact that this team returned all five of its leading scorers from a year ago and added two transfers in from the SEC.
After a strong regular season that saw State finish only behind Duke in the standings, the Wolfpack blew a 21-point lead to Maryland in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
Not exactly what you would call a "momentum builder."
And a word of advice to newly crowned Coach of the Year Herb Sendek, and ACC Player of the Year Julius Hodge: if anybody for ULL gets hot from behind the arc in this game, look out!
The Wolfpack, with their methodical style of play on offense, has the type of team that could easily falter under the pressure.
Mark it down now.
St. Louis Regional: #12 Pacific over #5 Providence
Phoenix Regional: #12 BYU over #5 Syracuse
Phoenix Regional: #11 Western Michigan over #6 Vanderbilt
St. Louis Regional: #10 Nevada over #7 Michigan State
Final Four Dark Horse
Wake Forest is a team that has a legitimate shot to make the Final Four.
With a powerful three guard rotation of Chris Paul, Taron Downey, and Justin Gray, the Deacons are a team that presents multiple match up problems for every possible team they'll face until the Elite 8, when they'll match up with 2nd seeded Oklahoma State.
The Deacons are also a team that is hungry.
Wake lost by one point to eventual champion Maryland in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, and will enter the East Rutherford Regional with something to prove.
Also, when you consider that multiple players for the Deacons have the ability to penetrate and a score, and also hit the three, Wake Forest is a a serious contender to get to the Final Four in San Antonio as a #4 seed.
Other Notes/Predictions to Remember
* #1 Duke, #2 Connecticut, #2 Oklahoma State, and #1 Kentucky are all solid picks to get to San Antonio.
* Maryland won't make it out of the Sweet Sixteen.
* North Carolina will struggle mightily with Air Force in the first round, but will somehow squeak out a win.
* Florida, a team that many are predicting to lose to Manhattan, will win that contest easily.
* Western Michigan will reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Join the Madness and make your picks against CUTigers.com members by clicking here.