For the first time in his four years at Notre Dame, New Bedford’s Bonzie Colson II won’t play in the NCAA Tournament.
The Irish (20-14) were the first team outside of the field of 68 when the brackets were announced Sunday night, meaning Colson’s career in South Bend will end with a trip to the NIT. The top-seeded Irish will host No. 8 Hampton (19-15) in first round on Tuesday or Wednesday. The winner faces either No. 4 Penn State or No. 5 Temple in the second round.
Colson, a senior power forward, missed 15 games this season with a fractured foot, and he was forced to watch as the Irish went 6-9 without him, while going 14-5 with him.
The Irish were on the NCAA Tournament bubble after falling 88-70 to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals, despite 18 points and nine rebounds from Colson, who had 24 points and 15 rebounds in a five-point loss to No. 1 Virginia on March 3.
With Colson leading the way, Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh and Viriginia Tech in the ACC Tournament before running out of gas against Duke, which earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Hear @NDMikeBrey’s message to our squad after we bowed out of the #ACCTourney after our 3rd game in 3 days.#NotDoneYet pic.twitter.com/n5iJzDKL3b
The Irish’s resume included wins over Florida State, Wichita State and North Carolina State, but they lost to Ball State, Indiana and suffered an ugly loss to Michigan State. They did beat Syracuse (20-13), the 68th team to get in, 51-49 in January without Colson and second-leading scorer Matt Farrell.
The Irish’s case was hurt earlier on Sunday when Davidson beat Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 title game. Since Davidson wouldn’t have earned an at-large bid — but the Rams did — the at-large field shrunk by one bid. NCAA Committee Chair Bruce Rasmussen told ESPN on Sunday that the Irish were the 69th team, meaning Davidson's win directly cost Notre Dame a spot in the tournament.
Colson finished his final regular season averaging 20.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.3 blocks on 50.3 percent shooting. He connected on 29.1 percent of his 3-pointers and 76.8 percent of his free throws. He set per-game career highs in points, steals and blocks. His senior class won a school-record 98 games.
Congrats to our 2017-18 senior class.
School record 98 wins... and counting! pic.twitter.com/DUx5kbEYzK
He increased his numbers in all four years, going from 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman to 11.1 and 6.7 as a sophomore and 17.8 and 10.1 as a junior.
As a junior, when he was the only ACC player to average a double-double, Colson was named to the Associated Press All-American Third Team, All-ACC First Team, ACC All-Tournament First Team and was a finalist for the Karl Malone and Wooden Awards.
Coming into his senior season, Colson was named the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, the Blue Ribbons Preseason National Player of the Year and Preseason All-American by the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News and The Athletic.
Colson and the Irish reached the Elite Eight in his first two collegiate seasons, falling to No. 1 Kentucky in 2015 and No. 1 North Carolina in 2016. Last year, Notre Dame advanced to the second round before running up against West Virginia. The Irish’s last NIT appearance came in 2009, when they reached the semifinals.
Colson is a New Bedford native who played his high school ball at St. Andrew's in Barrington, Rhode Island, where he was twice named the state's Player of the Year, an honor New Bedford's Brycen Goodine earned this season.
Watch Sydni Colson bring down the house with a great rendition of The Star Spangled Banner on her brother's (@BColson_35) Senior Night pic.twitter.com/RHpBjNKu8z— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) March 1, 2018// // // // // // //
Baylor, St. Mary’s and Southern California were among the first four out, while UCLA, St. Bonaventure and Arizona State joined Syracuse as the last four in.
Now the question will be whether Colson gets selected at the NBA Draft on June 21. ESPN's Feb. 20 mock draft had Colson getting selected in the second round of the June 21 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets with the No. 45 pick. NBADraft.net does not have him getting selected.
Follow Brendan Kurie on Twitter @BrendanKurieSCT