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Rhode Island’s victory is exactly what March is all about

What a “roller coaster” of a game. The URI men’s basketball team takes down the University of Oklahoma Sooners 83-76 in overtime in the first round of the NCAA tournament. To think this was the first game of the round of 64 in the NCAA tournament. That was fun.

What else do you look for in a NCAA tournament game? Lead changes, near buzzer beaters, emerging under-the-radar players, intensity and some of the best players in the country were all on display on Thursday afternoon inside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

That to me is the greatest take away from this game. This is what March is all about and the Rhode Island exemplified that.

Rhode Island had a near-make to end the game at the end of regulation. Jeff Dowtin drove the left side of the paint and pulled up from the second hash mark for a fade away jumper. The ball rolled off the left side of the rim and Stanford Robinson came swooping to the net for the outback lay-up. It was close but the Rams and Sooners would play overtime.

If you didn’t know Fatts Russell’s name before March 15, 2018, well, you know it now. An emerging star continued to shine under the bright lights of the big stage of March Madness. Russell finished the game with 15 points and three-of-six shooting from deep. Not to mention he went toe-to-toe defensively with Trae Young.

E.C. Matthews had himself quite the afternoon. The senior had a team-high 16 points and grabbed five rebounds. He shot three-of-eight from three including two-for-two in the overtime period. For a red-shirt senior who has experienced just about anything a college hoops star can experience, good or bad, it was pretty cool to see Matthews play that well down the stretch.

That is what March is about. Storylines that are told for generations. This is the first step for Rhode Island and their road to San Antonio. Sure, its a stretch to expect the Rams in the Final Four, but you can’t get there without getting through the first round.

It’s survive and advance time for Rhody hoops. Looks like the Duke Blue Devils will be on tap for Saturday’s round of 32 matchup. But, for now, soak it up, Rhode Island. Your Rams are in the round of the 32 for the second straight season.

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