I don’t know about you, but this is the game I’ve been waiting for these past two days. I personally don’t believe the Winthrop hype, but we shall see right? Common opponent for both teams…..Maryland. Winthrop lost, ND won.

Run Up The Score pulled the right straw and got the Game of the Day (let’s keep our fingers crossed). I’ve got a dollar on a Charlie Weis joke or two…..join him after the jump.

ND #6 Midwest Region:

Conference Big East
Location Notre Dame, IN
Coach Mike Brey (since 2000)
Arena Joyce Athletic Center
Record 24-7 (11-5)
RPI 34
NCAA Appearances 27
NCAA Record 29-31 (.483)
Last Bid 2003
Last Win 2003

Winthrop #11 Midwest Region:

Conference Big South
Location Rock Hill, SC
Coach Gregg Marshall (since 1998)
Arena Winthrop Coliseum
Record 28-4 (14-0)
RPI 69
NCAA Appearances 6
NCAA Record 0-6 (.000)
Last Bid 2006
Last Win Never

Ladies, form a line to my left for makeouts! Dudes, form a line to my right for high fives! I’m Chris from Run Up The Score, and I’ll be your guide to Notre Dame vs. Winthrop.

Winthrop, of course, is playing the role of early 21st century Gonzaga — the mid-major team that everyone thinks will make a run through the tournament. They’re not your typical undersized mid-major team, however. They have a 6’10” center (Craig Bradshaw) who can shoot 3’s, which could be a problem for puffy Notre Dame freshman center Luke Harangody. They also have a 6’5″ guard (Torrell Martin) who can pose some matchup problems. Oh, and they also have The Junkyard Dog:

After Winthrop lost by three in overtime in Madison, Wisc., on Dec. 4, one reporter kept saying the Eagles fought like “junkyard dogs” that day. Since then, they’ve adopted an action figure of the WWE wrestler of the same name as its motivational mascot — dog collar and all. They hand out the wrestler to the toughest playing teammate following each game.

As a matter of disclosure, I should point out that the beloved JYD (not to be confused with the Mighty MJD) passed away in 1998 when he fell asleep in his car and hit a tree while returning from his daughter’s graduation. He died in (wait for it…) Forest, Mississippi. His chain survives to this day.

Notre Dame? Well, they’re Notre Dame. Eminently hateable. This is actually a pretty good team, a fact that seems to be lost on a lot of media types who view Notre Dame as upset cannon fodder. The Irish were pre-season picks to finish 11th in the conference but finished 11-5 in the Big East, although they seem to have a stunning ability to sputter on the road against bad teams (DePaul, South Florida, St. John’s). This game is in Spokane, Washington. I believe that qualifies as “away from home”. On the other hand, Winthrop has only lost four games all season, three of them at North Carolina (where Winthrop once had a double digit lead), Wisconsin (Winthrop was leading with a minute left in the game), and Texas A&M (that, uhh…that was a 20 point blowout). Winthrop’s other loss came at Maryland. So they’ve been tested and generally held up very well against four teams that are much better (and infinitely more athletic) than Notre Dame.

Sportsbook.com says Notre Dame is a 3.5 point favorite. Leave your opinions, biases, and predictions in the comments section. And why not visit Run Up The Score while you wait? I’ll be back for tipoff.

Cheswick says “RUTS – I’m working in the office building across the street from the Arena but can’t afford to get in to watch the game. I’m depending on you for a quality blogging!”

Well, then you are totally screwed came to the right place, my friend!

First Half

We’re off and running, but CBS is keeping with the airtight Georgia Tech / UNLV game for now. 36.6 seconds left, UNLV by four. Head over to S2N’s live-blog for the remainder of that contest, and I’ll meed you back here in a few minutes. Deal?

12:12, first half. Notre Dame 13, Winthrop 12.

For some insane reason, CBS now switches us to the last 50 seconds of Memphis vs. North Texas, which is a 13 point game. Why? WHY?

11:35, first half. Notre Dame 15, Winthrop 12. Notre Dame is shooting well (7-14) while Winthrop struggles (5-15). The teams are a combined 1-10 from beyond the arc. Winthrop’s Taj McCullough gets the E for Effort so far, as he’s missed a three pointer, a two-point jumper, and a dunk within the last minute.

11:42 Winthrop – Taj McCullough misses a dunk
12:15 Winthrop – Taj McCullough misses a jumper
12:45 Winthrop – Taj McCullough misses a three-pointer

And we’re FINALLY sent to Spokane, greeted by the underrated Ian Eagle. Notre Dame leads 20-15.

Notre Dame’s Russell Carter (17 ppg) finds himself on the bench after picking up his second foul. ND is definitely getting the better of this game so far, as they pick off a lazy pass to the low post and turn itinto a breakaway layup. Winthrop, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem very into it yet.

6:33, first half. Notre Dame 24, Winthrop 17. Notre Dame has an astounding seven players on the scoresheet.

Winthrop is finally getting a little testy on defense, but it’s not translating into any points. Bradshaw knocks down a three from the wing, and the Eagles turn a Harangody turnover into a layup. That cuts the lead to 2 points, and Torrell Martin miraculously hits a spinning, wrong-footed layup over the Notre Dame big guys for the tie. Timeout, Notre Dame.

2:43, first half. Winthrop 26, Notre Dame 26.

Notre Dame picks up a bucket, and Craig Bradshaw responds by picking up a shady offensive foul for Winthrop.

2:00, first half. Notre Dame 28, Winthrop 26.

McCullough hits a three for Winthrop, and they finally take the lead. ND’s sharpshooter, Colin Falls, misses one on the other end and Winthrop holds for the last shot. Jenkins hits a three for Winthrop, and extend their lead as they head for the locker room.

Half Time. Winthrop 32, Notre Dame 28.

Winthrop seemed to find themselves around the 5:00 mark, and Notre Dame suddenly went cold from the field. There was a point where Notre Dame was threatening to pull away — they certainly had a few chances for a double-digit lead. Winthrop decided to start playing defense, and it eventually led to some open looks on offense. Momentum is definitely with the lower seed at halftime, but that’s nothing compared to what’s going on in the A&M Corpus Christi / Wisconsin game, where the Badgers still haven’t scored yet. Check out Marco’s live-blog for that insanity.

Sorry about the comments disappearing for a little while. We know how to fix it now, so stay with us!

We’re back for the second half, and get our first on-camera appearance of our announce team. We had a discussion of Eye-an Eagle’s name earlier…I think that may have been his only choice. Eee-an Eee-gle somehow sounds more ridiculous. And I love the “Iron Eagle” comparison.

Both teams shot 13-32 from the field in the first half. Weird. And poor.

Winthrop scores out of the gate, and ND misses another three (1 for 12). The Eagles score again in the paint, and Winthrop suddenly has an eight point lead. Make it eleven, as Martin hits a three. Timeout, Irish. We’re only 1:30 into the second half, and Notre Dame is reeling as Winthrop is on a 20-2 run going back to the end of the first half.

18:27 remaining. Winthrop 39, Notre Dame 28.

Bradshaw hits Winthrop’s fifth consecutive three pointer, and they lead by 14! Russell Carter responds for Notre Dame with a hoop and harm, but misses the free throw. Torrell Martin hits a jumper in the lane for Winthrop, and the Eagles are absolutely destroying Notre Dame. Two more layups for Winthrop, and it’s a sixteen point lead.

The only sign of life for Notre Dame right now is Rob Kurz on the offensive glass, but when I tell you it’s all Winthrop, it’s all Winthrop right now. Craig Bradshaw is showing off his entire game. Long jumpers, baby hooks in the lane, tip-ins — all around domination. He has 15 points, Torrell Martin has 18 (on 15 shots!), and Notre Dame is 1-14 from three point range. Not good.

14:00 remaining. Winthrop 52, Notre Dame 34.

Update on the other games: Wisconsin is still languishing in the single digits with 7:00+ left in the first half. They trail #15 TAMU-CC, 23-7. Tennessee scored 57 points in the first half against Long Beach, and they lead by 12.

Bradshaw scores again, Winthrop by twenty. Notre Dame, if you can believe this, is actually getting worse from the three point line. That last effort barely grazed the rim. Winthrop is utterly controlling every facet of teh game. Rebounding shooting, defense. Everything. They’ve outscored Notre Dame 22-6 in the second half and CBS is invoking the Broadcast Mercy Rule as we’re switched over to the Wisconsin / Texas A&M – Corpus Christi game. I’ll keep you updated on Winthrop / ND, don’t worry.

11:40 remaining. Winthrop 54, Notre Dame 36.

A&M-CC is leading Wisconsin by 16, and I just realized that my girlfriend picked them to beat the Badgers. I nearly laughed her out of our apartment and talked her out of it. So if this score holds up, I’m in for a world of piss and vinegar when she gets home tonight.

No change in the Winthrop score, with 10:20 remaining.

We’re still watching the Corpus Christi game here in Denver, but I’m happy to report that you’re missing absolutely nothing in Spokane. We’re in a scoring drought for oth teams, but Notre Dame is making it somewhat of a game. The lead is back down to ten, and I suspect that we’ll be going back to the game soon.

8:10 remaining. Winthrop 54, Notre Dame 44.

And wouldn’t you know it, we’re back in Spokane. Thanks, CBS! Winthrop is apparently struggling from the free throw line (they’re in the bonus already), going 1-6 from the line lately. This one isn’t over yet, folks.

7:33 remaining. Winthrop 54, Notre Dame 44.

Notre Dame’s scoring is coming from two unlikely sources — unlikely if you look past the fact that they’re giant, pasty white guys. Zach Hillesland has ten points, and Rob Kurz is having a mini-Laettner game. He’s 4-4 from the field and 3-3 from the free throw line. ND is still 1-15 from three point range, but they’ve apparently discovered that points are still awarded for shots closer to the basket. They’re on a 10-0 run. Tory Jackson makes it a 13-0 run with a three. Kurz picks up his fourth foul on the other end, but Winthrop still can’t make a foul shot. They’re now 2 for 8.

Colin Falls hits a leaner in the lane for the Irish, and the deficit is still seven. Falls nails a three! Four point lead for Winthrop. Meanwhile, Russell Carter now has four fouls but the best Winthrop can do is 1 for 2 from the line. It’s a “one for whatever Notre Dame gets” exchange at this time. Ian Eagle notes that Winthrop is playing not to lose, and he’s 100% right. It’s a 20-3 run for Notre Dame, and Winthrop is playing exactly like they did for the first ten minutes of the game. They’re being outhustled all over the floor, but Taj McCullough unleashes “a man’s jam!” (thanks, Ian) for a three point lead.

Russell Carter scores on a finger roll, but Notre Dame is napping on the other end as Bradshaw scores on an easy layup. Inexplicably, Rob Kurz reaches in and slaps Bradshaw’s wrist on the shot. A completely unnecessary foul, as Bradshaw was never in danger of missing the attempt. That’s five fouls for Kurz, and he’ll watch the rest of this contest from the bench. Free throw for Bradshaw when we come back from the break. That’s a big loss for Notre Dame.

3:58 remaining. Winthrop 61, Notre Dame 58.

He makes the foul shot, and gets the ball again near the basket on Winthrop’s next possession. Bradshaw head fakes, two Notre Dame defenders fly past him, and Bradshaw inexplicably misses the bunny. The Eagles force an awful jump hook on their next possession, and Luke Harangody uses his best over-40 YMCA move for a bucket. Notre Dame leads 63-62!

Bradshaw is left unguarded, and he hits an easy layup. Falls misses a three, and Russell Carter can’t convert the offensive rebound. The Eagles nail a three on the other end, and the lead is back to four. It’s a crazy, frantic game.

There’s always time for comedy when Ian Eagle’s in the house, as he notes that ND’s Tory Jackson doesn’t have any brothers named Tito. Nice. Notre Dame looks to take a charge on defense, but official Ted Valentine comes in with a late call of a blocking foul. Winthrop again misses a foul shot but makes the second.

59.7 seconds remaining. Winthrop 68, Notre Dame 64.

Steal by Winthrop and a breakaway dunk by Bradshaw! Six point lead, and Notre Dame gets all skittish as they launch a contested three pointer. It misses, Winthrop rebounds and Michael Jenkins is fouled. Amazingly, he makes the front half of his two shot foul and the Eagles lead by seven.

28.6 remaining. Winthrop 71, Notre Dame 64.

Jenkins makes the second FT for the eight point lead. Colin Falls misses a three, and Russell Carter fouls out for ND. Winthrop decides this is a good time to make free throws as Phillip Williams hits a pair. That accounts for the final margin, as Winthrop moves on despite trying their absolute hardest to choke this one away.

Full Time. Winthrop 74, Notre Dame 64.

Winthrop will face the winner of Oregon vs. Miami University (that’s the one in the MAC) and should have a puncher’s chance if they should happen to play the Ducks. We saw the best and worst of Winthrop in this game. They squandered a 20 point lead, and Notre Dame had the lead with roughly 2:00 left in the game. The Irish crapped out from that point forward, just as Winthrop figured out how to convert those pesky unguarded 15-foot shots. Ultimately, Notre Dame’s awful long range shooting was their demise (4 for 21), not to mention their previously unnoticed crappy free throws. I had no idea they were 4 for 13 on FT’s, even worse than Winthrop’s performance from the line.

That’s all for now. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and come visit me at Run Up The Score sometime!