Marquette had not been to the tournament since 1984 versus Tennessee and Kevin O'Niell's team did not even make the NIT in McIlvaine's sophomore year. On Sunday night at the pairing party, I asked him about the pressure associated with playing at Indianapolis.
John Dodds: You were the 12th seed and final at large team named to the 1993 NCAA Tournament. You played Oklahoma State at Indianapolis. I remember you coming out and getting five fouls in five minutes and you barely touched Big Country Reeves, the 6 ‘ 11" center from Oklahoma State. Tell me about that game.
McIlvaine: I played very well when we played them earlier in the year at Oklahoma State. I was looking forward to that game but it was trial by fire as it was the first time we had played in the NCAA in quite awhile. We missed the NIT last year so we were thrown into the '93 NCAA.
Other than Ron Curry, we had a team made up of juniors. After we lost to Oklahoma State, Rob Logterman, Damon Key and I worked very hard to return to the NCAA for our senior years. We were very lucky to have Tony Miller at point guard, having a leader like that who knew what was going on and was so competitive really helped.
John Dodds: So you used that as a stepping stone to get into the NCAA the next year and you made the Sweet 16. Tell me about that pressure in the 1993 game.
McIlvaine: Single elimination, and the thing I remember most about our junior year was that we were out of the tournament if we lost that game. I did not want that to happen to these guys. I wanted to keep winning. That was really the source of pressure from me. Single elimination.
John Dodds: What do you think about the 2006 Marquette team going out to San Diego?
McIlvaine: I like the bracket. It is filled with solid teams. There are so many good teams even the one seeds are not going to have easy draws. "Parity" is the word in college basketball as there are so many teams that could win in any given night and it makes it really exciting.
John Dodds: Your first full year as a broadcaster. How did it go?
McIlvaine: This is my first full year. In previous years, I did four or five games very much like NASCAR which does not count as a full year if you only run five races.
The last two years working with Homer and George, they have been fantastic. They allowed me to get my feet wet so it was not totally trial by fire this year. Being able to work part time for the last two years gave me a much better comfort level coming into this year.
John Dodds: So now every time Dominic James hits a 25 footer at the buzzer, you will be quoting from Karate Kid?
McIlvaine: "No mercy in the Dojo."