AUBURN HILLS | It would take two significant upsets, but Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff can’t help but think about what a potential Round of 32 matchup with No. 11 St. Mary’s would be like.
The Gaels won their first round game against Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday night and if they can get past No. 6 Memphis, they’ll be awaiting the winner of No. 3 Michigan State and No. 14 Valparaiso.
Broekhoff played with four members of St. Mary’s, including Matthew Dellavedova, while they were students at the Australian Institute of Sport before arriving in the United States.
“If all things go well, we might end up playing them in the next round, but we don’t look too forward ahead,” Broekhoff said. “To have more Australians be represented at good colleges over here, it really speaks volumes of how basketball in Australia is going and how it’s building.”
Dellavedova led St. Mary’s to a 67-54 victory over the Blue Raiders on Tuesday with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. Broekhoeff and Dellavedova both tried out for the Australian Olympic team last summer with the St. Mary’s senior earning a spot on the team.
“It will be cool to catch up with Ryan and it would be great to play against him,” Dellavedova said. “I’m happy that he’s having such a great year. We all enjoyed seeing that buzzer-beater that he hit the other night.”
Test this: Memphis coach Josh Pastner has always been one to stand up for his players and the third-year coach proved just how far he’d go on Wednesday afternoon.
Responding to a question during Wednesday’s news conference about the quality of competition the Tigers played this season, Pastner took a reporter to task for alluding that his team wasn’t ready for the NCAA tournament.
“To say that we haven’t been battle-tested is ridiculous,” Pastner said. “Do you recognize that every single time we step on the floor we get everyone’s best shot? We’ve won 26 straight Conference USA games. If we play our B game during conference games, we take an L. We have no option but to play an A game every night. That’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Celeb smack talk: Akron has embraced its hometown hero LeBron James this year, commemorating the Miami Heat star with his own bobblehead collection, but that doesn’t mean the Zips are the only team to have a celebrity in their fan base.
“They got LeBron James; we got Spike Lee,” VCU senior Darius Theus said. “LeBron ain’t on the court with them, so it’s fine.”
The famous filmmaker started attending VCU games this season and was a prominent front-row observer at the A-10 tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last week.