UConn felt right at home in MSG

NEW YORK -- Madison Square Garden looked a little different, and sounded a little different. But in the end, it produced a very familiar result.

Connecticut, winner of seven Big East tournaments in this storied building, took the first NCAA tournament game at the Garden in 53 years with an 81-76 victory over Iowa State.

It was an upset in terms of seeding, and by Vegas' standards (barely). But to those of us who've watched the Huskies win big games here time and time again, it came as no surprise.

"My student-athletes played together, they played hard, and at the end of the game we played 40 [minutes] full to get this win," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said.

The surroundings were, sadly, NCAA-sanitized. Instead of the regular Madison Square hardwood, we saw a generic court identical to those at every other tournament site.

Famed public address announcer Mike Walczewski was barred from using his traditional greeting at the start of the night: "Welcome to Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena!"

But once the ball was tipped, normalcy was quickly restored.

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