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March Madness and some TDG NCAA Tournament Memories

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament holds a special place in the hearts of some of us around here. Zips and I have compiled some of our favorite memories about the greatest single-elimination tournament in the world.


My favorite Gopher NCAA memory

I was just a little too young to appreciate the early runs in the Clem years. I was aware of what was going on and Kevin Lynch did come visit my tiny high school within a couple months of missing that shot in the Elite Eight. I was fully aware of the 1996-97 team as I was a freshman in college and loved every second of that season, including a trip to Kansas City for the first round of games over SW Texas State and the Temple Owls.

But my favorite memory was the 1995 matchup against the Saint Louis Billikens. Why would that first round loss register? Well because I made up a lame excuse to my mom as to why I had to skip school to watch the Thursday afternoon game from the comfort of my couch. Sure, I really did have a science test that I wanted to study for. And technically I did study (for a few minutes during halftime). But my mom just happened to walk in the house during the late run the Gophers made to make a close game out of what was a fairly boring game throughout. The one moment I actually jumped up and yelled "YES!" was the exact moment my mom walked in the house. She wasn't too happy, but c'mon mom!

My favorite NCAA Tournament memory

This is a tough one too but I think for me it might be the night that Kevin Pittsnogle put the West Virginia Mountaineers on his back and very nearly knocked off Louisville in overtime of the Elite Eight. In the previous round Pittnogle had "Pittsnogled" Bobby Knight's Texas Tech team with 22 points and then Rick Pitino's Cardinals were very nearly "Pittsnogled" when the West Virginia forward not only hit 6 threes but each one seemed to be clutcher and clutcher.

Was this the best game I've ever watched? No, but I had friends over, this game had bracket pool implications and it created a verb amongst a sub-set of my friends. Cannot wait to see some teams get "Pittsnogled" in this year's tourney (I'm looking at you Wisconsin!).

Top 5 favorite college nicknames

I love nicknames. That's all. Quick...tell me how many nicknames that are not plural nor are a color. It's a fun bar game. I, like Zips below, will shy away from some DIII gems (sorry Williams College Ephs) or even great high school nicknames (I'm looking at you Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms!). Anyway here are some of my sentimental favorites...

1. UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs - Not only is it unique but it is maybe the worst choice of a mascot on the planet. There's nothing fierce or menacing about it. Even a Gopher might eat this. At least a Horned Frog shoots blood out of its eyes. But respect to the Banana Slugs, own that shit.

2. Tulane Green Wave - I mentioned this in a post earlier in the week but as a kid when I turned on a game on ESPN to see this massive, foamy, green wave covering the court I was hooked.

3 - University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos - this one just makes no sense. There may not even be a Kangaroo in the Kansas City Zoo. This one is a head scratcher and hilarious.

4 - UC-Irvine Anteaters - really the UC system is pretty sweet for nicknames.

5 - Hawkeyes (JUST KIDDING NOBODY LIKES THE HAWKEYES) Manhattan Jaspers - If I have to Google it then it is worthy of consideration for me. I love the Jaspers.


My favorite Gopher NCAA memory

Oh, there are just SO many to choose from! I guess I really got excited as an 11-year old in 1997 when the Gophers took down UCLA in the Elite Eight. I still remember the intensity of the game, which is strange, because I was still coming into my own as a college basketball fan. I remember Toby Bailey couldn't seem to miss, Cameron Dollar was flat broke and the Gophers barely pulled it off. The 1995 UCLA team actually got me into college basketball originally, so it was a turning point in my life when the Gophers took them down. Kind of a passing of the torch.

My favorite NCAA Tournament memory

Nothing has nor probably ever will top the Bryce Drew "miracle" of 1998. That game represents everything I love about March Madness. Playing hooky. Watching an underdog win at the last second over a Power 5 conference team. That's what this is all about, and it's a moment frozen in time for me. A number of years later my mom got me a giant framed print of an artist's rendering of the shot, which hangs in my living room. It's signed and personalized by both Homer and Bryce Drew. Talk about special.

Top 5 favorite college nicknames

I'll keep this to D-I only programs (sorry, Southwestern College Moundbuilders). I judge my favorite nicknames on account of uniqueness and an ability to give a nod to something special about the school or community it comes from. Oh, you're the Fighting Hawks? How terribly bland of you. You know what's not bland? Having the guts to name yourself after a tree, like Indiana State. That's ownable. That's cool.

1. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers - Come on, they're named after a rooster. And the name is 12 letters long.

2. Presbyterian Blue Hose - I just love to imagine that PC named themselves after a gardening tool that happens to be blue, instead of socks. Also, teams named after inanimate objects are usually at the top of my list. The Pepperdine Waves almost made this rundown.

3. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors - First they were the Rainbow Warriors, then they were the Rainbows, then they were the Warriors (how macho!), and now they're back to where they need to be. It's doubly badass when they have the old school football uniforms. Good things happen when you just own something unique to your school and community.

4. Akron Zips - I know, I know, but I can't resist. They're literally named after the zipper, which was invented in Akron. Bonus trivia - the zipper was first used on rubber galoshes made by BF Goodrich.

5. Youngstown State Penguins - There are no penguins native to Youngstown, Ohio, to my knowledge. But I'll be damned if that penguin in a scarf and a Santa hat isn't the doofiest looking logo of any college team out there. Talk about ownable.

Please, please, please share your favorite memories and/or mascots!