It's conference tournament week in college basketball, giving fans an opportunity to watch non-stop action as programs compete for automatic berths to the Big Dance. But rather than focus on the second round of the ACC tournament or the opening Big Ten games, plenty of attention was on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
Rick Pitino and the No. 9 seeded Iona took on No. 1 Siena on Wednesday night with a spot in the semifinals on the line. The Gaels pulled off an impressive upset, booking their place in the next round with a 55-52 victory. Iona had three players score in double-digits, but also put together a strong defensive effort to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Following the win, the college basketball world couldn't help but praise Pitino for his ability to get the Gaels this close to a March Madness bid in just his first year on the job. Iona has been a dominant force in the MAAC for the least few years, but many were unsure when the 68-year-old took over if they could continue to compete.
The Gaels have done just that. Despite coming in as the nine-seed, Pitino's squad still went 10-5 during the shortened regular season. With Wednesday night's win, Iona is now just two wins away from booking their ticket to Indianapolis.
As a result of the gutsy performance, Pitino received some well-deserved praise from the college basketball world on Twitter.
It ended up being a huge night for the Pitino family. Rick's son, Richard, led the Minnesota to a comeback win over the Northwestern Wildcats in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
In what's been a disappointing year for Richard and the Golden Gophers, it's possible that Wednesday's win could prolong his time with the program.
Whatever becomes of Rick Pitino's Iona squad this year, it's safe to say that the 68-year-old's on-court legacy is secure. He still remains the only coach in history to lead three different schools to the Final Four.
Although the Gaels have little hope of a deep NCAA Tournament run, just getting a spot in the Big Dance would be one of Pitino's most impressive accomplishments to date.