RALEIGH, North Carolina (WWLP) – “UMass basketball” hasn’t had a ring to it since John Calipari and Marcus Camby were in Amherst. Now Springfield’s native son Derek Kellogg has taken the Minutemen back to the NCAA Tournament.
22News is in Raleigh, North Carolina with the UMass basketball team.
UMass will play Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. It is the first time the Minutemen have been back in the big dance since 1998. That’s why so many UMass fans traveled to Raleigh to watch the Minutemen play. They were out and about on Thursday night watching the other NCAA Tournament action.
UMass won 24 games this season and are the 6 seed in the region, but an underdog. Tennessee is a 4 point favorite to beat the Minutemen. It’s that chip on their shoulder attitude that has made this UMass team so much fun to watch.
“It’s good to see a hard working team, they stress togetherness, work ethic. Coach Kellogg pushes them to that level of playing together”, said Christopher Fielding, UMass Class of 2003.
“It’s been 16 years since we made it, the year before my freshman year so we made a pact that we’d make the trip whenever we made it”, said Mike Santoro, UMass Class of 2003.
We also run into some Minutemen before the biggest game of their season.
“What we got in front of us right now only happens once in a lifetime really and I’m just trying to take advantage of it”, said UMass sophomore guard Derrick Gordon.
“I’m a senior this is my last year, just trying to give it everything we got, can’t take any plays off, all effort and just leave everything on the floor”, said UMass senior forward Raphiael Putney.
UMass plays Tennessee Friday at 2:45pm. The winner will play either Duke or Mercer on Sunday.