This past weekend, Dana Jacobson did some sideline reporting for the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh. She covered several compelling games, including No. 3 Notre Dame’s 67-64 win over No. 6 Butler.
“Interviewing losing coaches on Saturday, that’s a tough thing,” Jacobson said during an in-studio appearance on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “You’re in there with Chris Holtmann at Butler who feels like they let that one get away. They had four plays down the stretch. He knows these guys executed to the best of their ability. But he was sitting there looking at that – in this first year taking over on a full-time basis in January. That, to me, as just a person – it’s the thing I want to see, but that’s also a really difficult spot, seeing the emotion, seeing the kids after those losses.”
And then there was No. 8 NC State beating No. 1 Villanova, 71-68. The Wildcats were favored to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2009; instead, they didn’t even make the Sweet 16.
“A few of the Villanova players – it doesn’t matter who it was – one of the players was in that tunnel area on the ground (after the game),” Jacobson said. “Had to be picked up. And we’ve seen those moments. This is everything. This is their college career. Who knows what’s next? I don’t care if they go play in the NBA. There will never be that family-team concept like you have in college. It’s not the same in the NBA. Every player tells you this is where basketball is basketball and family. So I’ll say this: being a part of that and seeing it and witnessing it was even more special in person for me.”
Which is why Jacobson had no problem with West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. guaranteeing that the No. 5 Mountaineers (25-9) will beat No. 1 Kentucky (36-0) on Thursday. Miles didn’t actually use the G-word, but he did say that Kentucky would be 36-1 after Thursday night.
“Good for him,” Jacobson said. “You should think that.”
Thinking it is one thing; saying it is another thing altogether.
“Everybody’s like, ‘You’re poking the bear,’” Jacobson said. “Seriously? Because Kentucky’s not going to bring their A-game? Come on. This time of year, they know what’s at stake.”
Now, if West Virginia loses by 30, Miles will look like a buffoon.
“But I love that he has the confidence,” Jacobson said. “You have to. How else are you going to go out and beat them if you’re going to beat them? You have to believe it first to make it happen.”
That’s what NC State thought against Villanova. Now the Wolfpack (22-13) are one game from the Elite Eight. They play Louisville (26-8) in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
“I watched Villanova play a lot of complete games this year,” Jacobson said. “Villanova could not buy a shot. You can’t predict when that night’s going to happen – where no matter what you do, no matter what you set up, you just can’t get a shot to fall. They were a basket away from stopping that momentum and winning that game. NC State believed. (Mark) Gottfried has them playing their best ball right now and believing, so there is something to it.
“So if that’s what it takes for West Virginia to try to get the win, to believe, good for them.”