Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

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UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

UMass basketball snaps 16-year NCAA Tournament drought

Taylor C. Snow/Daily Collegian

Taylor C. Snow/Daily Collegian

It doesn’t matter that the Massachusetts men’s basketball team got put in Raleigh, N.C. It doesn’t matter that it is the No. 6 seed, or that it doesn’t quite know its opponent for Friday’s second-round matchup.

All that matters is that UMass is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 16 years.

“That was an emotional, great feeling,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “To see UMass pop up on the screen, it’s just a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication from our coaching staff and families. … It’s been an emotional time and we’re excited to be where we are.”

Since the Minutemen were eliminated from the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Friday night, they’ve been projected to be about an eight or nine seed. But, to be a No. 6 seed shows that UMass earned the respect that it sought from Day 1.

“We felt that (the committee) hasn’t been respecting us all year,” senior Chaz Williams said. “For them to give us a six seed, we felt like, ‘Wow, now they’re showing us a little bit of respect.’ But still, we have work to go out there and do.”

Despite entering Friday’s game as the higher seed, UMass is faced with one of the tougher challenges in the tournament: not knowing its first opponent.

The Minutemen will play the winner of the first-round game between Iowa and Tennessee, meaning that, unlike the majority of the teams in the field, they will only have two days to prepare for their second-round foe.

“We already had talked about who was going to scout each game,” Kellogg said. “Now we have an extra game to scout, or an extra team.”

As for the three seniors — Williams, Raphiael Putney and Sampson Carter — this is what they’ve worked for their entire career at UMass. So many notable players before them failed to end the Minutemen’s drought, but this opportunity is something Kellogg sold to them when they were recruited to the program.

Now, it’s all come to fruition.


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“It came at the perfect time,” Carter said. “We grinded for four years and now we’re in our last year and we’re finally here, so it’s perfect to come at the last year. It’s perfect timing.”

For Kellogg, this was not only his selling-point to recruits. It’s also what he had to sell administration on when they hired him back in 2008. He was a player during the program’s hey-day, making it to the NCAA Tournament all four years he was with the Minutemen and going as far as the Elite Eight in his senior year.

For him to be the leader in resurrecting the program makes it that much more special.

“We got a little work to do to be compared to what (former UMass coach John Calipari) was doing here a long time ago,” he said. “But just to be mentioned with that and having played here, to me, we’re back where we belong.”

This dream moment for UMass didn’t quite go perfectly, however. CBS made a mistake when revealing the Minutemen’s portion of the draw, accidentally putting their name up on the screen and then quickly taking it down to reveal the Duke-Mercer matchup, leaving everyone in attendance a little confused.

“We were cheering and yelling and screaming and then they had to do it again,” Kellogg said. “We got a double whammy from the crowd here, which was great because I had to ask our guys, ‘who are we playing?,’ and then it came back up again.”

Now that UMass is in the Tournament, it must prepare for the biggest stage that any of these players have ever played on. With the bright lights and big stage comes high emotions, something that the Minutemen are going to need to keep in check if they want to make a run, rather than be one and done.

“I know my emotions are going to be high and there’s going to be a lot of energy and passion coming from me,” Maxie Esho said.

That’s to be expected. Because for the first time in 16 years, UMass is going dancing.

Patrick Strohecker can be reached at pstrohec@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @P_Strohecker.

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