In NCAA Games, An Underdog Marches On
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's Mike Pesca has the story of two underdogs from the first round of play - a team that won and a team that didn't.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
MIKE PESCA: In the stands, Clarence Abraham, Karon's dad, was brimming with hope.
CLARENCE ABRAHAM: Well, I know, 18-and-a-half-point underdogs, I know we can prevail that. We're not that far underdogs. But if we play a good game for us today, we can pull this upset.
PESCA: Right across the aisle from Mr. Abraham was Gregory Dell'Omo, the school's president, and he knew a big win could mean a lot.
GREGORY DELL: It'll be wonderful for the students and obviously name recognition. The whole country's watching this game right now, so we're ready to finish this off in nine-tenths of a second and maybe go to overtime and win it there.
PESCA: The Colonials did take the game into overtime, but Villanova's superior athleticism took over. Abraham repeatedly found Villanova's shot blockers erasing what would normally be made baskets against RMU's usual foes. Villanova won by three.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD GROANING)
PESCA: Not six hours after President Dell'Omo exited the seat in the arena, Ohio's president, Roderick McDavis, was literally in the same spot. His Bobcats - a 14th seed - was spelling trouble for Georgetown, and McDavis was thrilled with all eyes on Ohio.
RODERICK MCDAVIS: I think it helps us not only in terms of applications but in terms of visibility and people getting to know who we are and what we're all about.
PESCA: On the other side of the arena, Georgetown fan Andrew Rennie(ph) was playing the part of unfazed favorite.
ANDREW RENNIE: We've been down by much bigger deficits against much, much better teams. I undoubtedly think they will come back from this, especially because they're shooting about 70 percent right now and they can't keep that up.
PESCA: For Carl Bassett, whose son Armon led Ohio with 32 points, it was simply...
CARL BASSETT: The best movement, the best feeling in the world. I mean, I drained my bank account to come to see, but I couldn't think of anything else better to spend my money on.
PESCA: Armon had not only won a game, in his mind he justified his decision to transfer from Indiana two years ago and then to leave the University of Alabama at Birmingham for Ohio last year. This is why, he said in the locker room after the game, he has a tattoo that says against all odds.
ARMON BASSETT: When I left Indiana, people wrote me off and, you know, tried to slander my name. I went to UAB, had to leave there, more slander. Now, I got to carry a chip on my shoulder.
PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News, Providence, Rhode Island.
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