The NCAA and truTV couldn’t have asked for a better start to the First Four. UNC Asheville staged a big rally, hit a last-second 3-pointer to force overtime and ended up beating Arkansas-Little Rock 81-77.
Drama, clutch plays and overtime? For the first NCAA tournament game on truTV featuring the champions of the Big South and the Sun Belt, that’s pretty good.
OK, maybe they would’ve preferred a couple of big-name teams to draw in a larger TV audience.
Still, those who did watch got to see UALR get off to a fast start – Solomon Bozeman continued his solid play from the Sun Belt tournament – only to have the Bulldogs chip away until Matt Dickey’s 3 with 10.5 seconds left sent it into OT. Dickey, who scored 14 of Asheville’s final 18 points in the second half, got to be the hero.
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Asheville now gets two things: A $1.2 million share of the NCAA tournament winnings, which the Sun Belt will distribute among its league. And a date vs. the Southeast’s No. 1 seed, Pitt.
I’d call that one prize and one future thumping.
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