The second the misguided question left my mouth, I wanted to take it back.
So, Georges, do you think you have any chance vs. Ohio State?
“I can’t believe you asked that,” he sighed.
Georges Niang didn’t go from a pudgy kid from Methuen to an NCAA tourney hero without believing in himself.
And after the freshman carried 10th-seeded Iowa State past 7th-seeded Notre Dame in their Friday night opener, he wholeheartedly believes the Cyclones can take down Ohio State in the Round of 32.
Don’t bother bringing up that the Buckeyes are the second seed in the region, are favored by seven points, and are playing in their backyard this afternoon (Dayton Arena, 12:15 p.m. on CBS).
“I’ve been the underdog my whole life,” he said while getting ready for practice yesterday afternoon. “If they are predicted to win, so be it.”
Being the star (game-high 19 points) of an NCAA win over Notre Dame has exposed Niang to a whole new level of fame.
“Everybody in America is watching,” he said. “I’m getting feedback from everybody.”
In this age of social media, it sure feels that way.
“Oh, man, I haven’t been able to respond. There have been so many (tweets and text messages),” he said. “The love is definitely appreciated. We got back at 1:30 a.m. I had 84 text messages.”
One was from last year’s ISU All-American Royce White.
Jack Cooley made the mistake of comparing Iowa State to lowly DePaul. Perhaps he was just pointing out both were known for their speed, but ISU interpreted it as a putdown, whether he meant it or not.
The first-team All-Big East forward ate those words. Niang and the Cyclones took it to Cooley and the towering but lumbering Irish frontcourt early and often in the 76-58 romp.