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Iona Joins March Madness With Surprise Tourney Bid

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The Iona College men’s basketball team will be going to the Big Dance after the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament selection committee chose the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season champion Gaels and Brigham Young University to meet in a play-in game Tuesday to earn the No. 14 seed in the West bracket upcoming men’s basketball tournament.

Iona point guard Scott Machado said he and the Gaels were at the local eatery watching the CBS-TV live broadcast of the NCAA selections at 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We were at the Smoke House on North Avenue and when they called our name we were so ecstatic and happy,” Machado said. “I wasn't really nervous.  I thought we had a good chance to get a bid. This is such a great moment for us.”

The Gaels (25-7) were one of the last four teams to receive an at-large bid, which means they have to play a play-in game Tuesday night at approximately 9 p.m. EST to advance. Iona will play BYU (25-8), which finished in third place in the West Coast Conference. The winner will be a No. 14 seed and face No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, as part of the West bracket.

“It’s one of best feelings – I can’t put it into words,” Iona coach Tom Cluess said during a media conference call Sunday evening. “When I saw the look in the players’ eyes and faces, it just proves what can happen with hard work. The hard work has played off. I think we were deserving of the bid.”

The Gaels had a superlative season and were the No. 1 seed in last week’s MAAC tournament but lost to Fairfield University in the semifinals of their tournament and thereby lost the NCAA’s automatic bid that goes to the league champion. The Gaels then waited with dozens of other prospective at-large bid candidates and learned the news that they had been selected Sunday afternoon.

The NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKETS

SOUTH (Atlanta)

Louisville Thursday, March 15 No.1 Kentucky vs. No. 16 Mississippi Valley State/Western Kentucky winner No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 9 Connecticut

Portland Thursday, March 15 No. 5 Wichita State vs. No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 New Mexico State

Albuquerque Thursday, March 15 No. 6 UNLV vs. No. 11 Colorado No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 South Dakota State

Greensboro Friday, March 16 No. 7 Notre Dame vs. No. 10 Xavier No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Lehigh

WEST (Phoenix)

Columbus Friday, March 16 No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 16 LIU Brooklyn No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Saint Louis

Portland Thursday, March 15 No. 5 New Mexico vs. No. 12 Long Beach State No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Davidson

Louisville Thursday, March 15 No. 6 Murray State vs. No. 11 Colorado State No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 14 BYU/Iona winner

Omaha Friday, March 16 No. 7 Florida vs. No. 10 Virginia No. 2 Missouri vs. No. 15 Norfolk State

EAST (Boston)

Pittsburgh Thursday, March 15 No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Southern Miss

Albuquerque Thursday, March 15 No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Harvard No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Montana

Nashville Friday, March 16 No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 11 Texas No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure

Pittsburgh Thursday, March 15 No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 West Virginia No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Loyola (MD)

MIDWEST (St. Louis)

Greensboro Friday, March 16 No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Lamar/Vermont winner No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Alabama

Nashville Friday, March 16 No. 5 Temple vs. No. 12 California/USF winner No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 13 Ohio

Columbus Friday, March 16 No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 NC State No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Belmont

Omaha Friday, March 16 No. 7 Saint Mary's vs. No. 10 Purdue No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Detroit

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