Former Duke basketball coach bounces ex-Cinderella from NCAA Tournament

the Northwestern Wildcats are still dancing after an OT scare

March 22, 2024, Brooklyn, NY, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Chris Collins reacts against the
March 22, 2024, Brooklyn, NY, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Chris Collins reacts against the / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It is never easy winning in the NCAA Tournament and former Duke basketball assistant coach Chris Collins knows that as much as anyone.

His Northwestern Wildcats opened up its postseason charge in Brooklyn, ironically the same location the Blue Devils will play on Friday night, against last year’s Cinderella, Florida Atlantic.

The first half was as brutal as basketball can be. The Wildcats trailed, 20-19.

But an actual basketball game broke out in the second half and it delivered a March Madness classic.

A furious late comeback from the Owls had them in front, 58-56, with a minute to play but a basket with 8.1 seconds remaining by Brooks Barnhizer tied the game and a lackadaisical Johnnell Davis had his 3-pointer blocked at the buzzer.

Overtime awaited and Northwestern seized the extra session with a 12-1 run and eventually out scoring Florida Atlantic 19-7, winning 77-65.

Many people had questioned the seeding of FAU entering the tournament after its loss in thr AAC semifinals to Temple. The Owls had one Quad 3 loss and two Quad 4 losses, despite being comfortably in the field as a No. 8 seed.

Ryan Langborg led the way with 27 points for Northwestern while star guard Boo Buie had 22 points.

The Wildcats will now face top-seed UConn on Sunday after the Huskies dominated No. 16 seed Stetson.

Perhaps Northwestern’s success over the last two seasons against Purdue, another top seed in the field, will be beneficial to the former Duke basketball coach and ex-Wildcat and current Blue Devil backup center, Ryan Young.

A tip-off time has not been announced for the Round of 32. It will likely come late Friday night.

The Blue Devils, a No. 4 seed, will open its NCAA Tournament run against No. 13 seed Vermont (7:10 p.m. ET, CBS).