Not many of you got the memo, but there was a fax from Jim Delaney that was sent out late Thursday night -- after all of the previous nights borderline blowouts came to a head -- declaring today's matchup's between the under seeded Indiana Hoosiers and North Carolina Tar Heels and the ever surprising Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish as the Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Part Deux. From the looks of it, the deal was agreed upon by John Swofford at 11:59 p.m. CT after Delaney showed up on his door step after realizing that he could still claim "Best Conference Alive" status with two major victories.
The stakes outlined in the hand written fax are quite simple: To conclude a Part Deux winner, one conference must win both games. IF that criteria is met, not only do those two teams get a trip to the Elite Eight -- paid for by the other conference, of course -- but they will also win a $75 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings, ten burnt copies of every Capital One and The Hoopers commercial aired during the NCAA Tournament, twelve Amazon Echo's signed by Jason Schwartzman and a year's subscription to Milkshake Aficionado Magazine.
With so much on the line and King Delaney looking on, let's take a look at our two challenge matchup's.
(6) Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. (7) Wisconsin Badgers (7:27 p.m. ET/TBS)
I said it yesterday and I'll take up the space today to say it again, may whichever higher being you believe in bless our most humble Badger head coach, Greg Gard. The more and more I keep thinking about Wisconsin -- and the more and more I hear pundits like Charles "Will Read Anything Off a Teleprompter" Barkley and Kenny "The Jet Right to the Green Room Buffett" Smith talk about how ugly and boring Wisconsin's recent play has been -- the more I hope they keep this dream alive.
And that's not just because I recently discovered that I'm a closeted Badgers fan (It's my high school coach's fault, I swear! He played for Bo Ryan and my program played like a miniature Wisconsin team. How can I not like them? It's been drilled into me.), but because this group of talented players and coaches are absolutely endearing. Sure they've had a close call or two (at this point in the season, who hasn't?), but they've also taken their fate in their own hands and pushed themselves to this heightened level of play.
In terms of Notre Dame, they have by no means played their best basketball up to this point in the tournament, but are capable of opening the score up in a hurry. Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson could be two potential nightmares, but if Wisconsin stays disciplined and forces the Irish away from their comfort spots on the floor, they can win this game.
If they can figure out a way to shock (and I mean shock in the "higher seed beats the lower seed" kind of way) the Fighting Irish on Good Friday, we are definitely in for yet another fantastic Moesch Madness video.
And at the end of the day, isn't that all we want?
All hail the Fresh Princes of the Dance!
(1) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (5) Indiana Hoosiers (9:57 p.m. ET/TBS)
The City of Brotherly Love is in for a real treat with this game. Not only do the locals get the opportunity to catch one of the most dominate teams in the early goings of the NCAA Tournament in North Carolina -- with blow out wins over Florida Gulf Coast and Providence -- they also get to bear witness to one of the most amusing offenses college basketball has to offer.
While taking care of business against North Carolina is going to be a tall order -- as the Heels are certainly peaking and playing some of the most athletic, in your face defense out of anyone in the country not named Villanova -- if anyone in powder blue is looking even the slightest bit ahead, they're going to lose to this Warriors-East basketball team.
The completely under seeded and disrespected Hoosiers absolutely have the horses available to get Indiana to their first Elite Eight since 2002. But those horses better find their three point stroke, something that shockingly disappeared against Kentucky. When Indiana is at their absolute best they are sending Yogi Ferrell or one of their athletic wings (i.e. Troy Williams) to the rim while the remaining four guys fill in all of the weak spots behind them for wide open kick opportunities. It also helps when they are getting elite, energetic performances from guys like Thomas Bryant, Max Bielfeldt and OG Anunoby down low; something that will be of desperate need against the UNC big men.
IF Tom Crean can get all of these things to click and Yogi Ferrell mentally makes Marcus Paige's face his game long "tackling fuel", the Hoosiers could pull off what could be the second biggest upset of the tournament.
Sorry Sparty, you're still the first.