BU Makes Tournament, Faces Uphill Battle
BOSTON — Boston University doesn’t even have varsity football, and its hockey team has spent most of the season looking up in the standings at archrival Boston College.
But BU can claim the city’s bragging rights in basketball, of all things, after the America East champions were the only Massachusetts team picked for the NCAA tournament. While BC and Harvard were left out, BU (21-13) will play three-time champion Kansas (32-2) in the opening round in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday.
“It’s a moment I’ve dreamed of my entire life, ever since I was a little kid playing basketball,” BU guard Matt Griffin said. “March Madness is an incredible time, and I’m just so grateful to be here. It’s just awesome.”
The Terriers watched the selection show on TV at a Commonwealth Ave. bar on Sunday night, breaking into cheers when their school came up as a No. 16 seed against the No. 1-seeded Big 12 champions. Coach Patrick Chambers, whose daughter, Grace, was sleeping on his shoulder, pumped his right fist in the air.
“Just leading up to the moment, you’re just so nervous,” Griffin said. “The anticipation, being here with your teammates and family and friends, it’s unbelievable. And finally your name is called, it’s an incredible emotion that we felt together as a team. We worked so hard to get here, just to see our name being called is just incredible.”
Chambers, a former Villanova assistant, said he recruited some of the Kansas players and is familiar with Jayhawks coach Bill Self.
“I know what he likes to do,” Chambers said. “I know they’re a talented group and he likes to push the ball up the floor. We just have to get better tomorrow on defense and rebounding.”
Down the street at Boston College, they’re thinking about a near miss.
BC (20-12) was left out of the 68-team field after losing 70-47 to Clemson in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The Eagles also lost to both Harvard and Yale. They will play at McNeese State in the NIT.
“We got what we deserved. That’s the bottom line,” said BC coach Steve Donahue, who led Cornell to the round of 16 last year. “We’ve got to work harder. We’ve got to do things better. Unfortunately for the older guys, they don’t get that opportunity.”
BC Guard Reggie Jackson said he knew it was not a good sign when Clemson, which also beat the Eagles in the regular season, was relegated to a first-round game.
“Once I saw Clemson had the 12 seed in the play-in game, basically I knew that was our season,” Jackson said. “You look back at a lot of games. … The Yale game, the second game of the season, you think about that: If you get one more win, you’re probably in. It’s reality.”