Sunday, March 18, 2012

Marist Women, Yet Again, Earn NCAA Victory

Here we go again ... the Marist women have used a lower, although relatively advantageous, seeding position to upset a first-round NCAA Tournament opponent and to set itself up as well as possible for a potential second-round victory and a move to the Sweet 16 round.

The little school from the mid-major league on the banks of the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., earned a 76-70 victory over Georgia in their game at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla.

Little school, yes, but by now big accomplishments are nothing new to the Red Foxes.

Some perspective?

In the entire 31-year history of the MAAC only five men's teams have ever won an NCAA tournament game after reaching the 64-team field: Siena (2008, 2009), Manhattan (2004, 1995) and La Salle (1990).

The Marist women have matched that, now with five NCAA tournament victories in the past six seasons.

So, there it is: Men's MAAC teams five NCAA wins in 31 years; the Marist women ... five in the past six seasons.

NCAA tournament victory No. 5 came today. Previous wins came last year, in 2008 and two in 2007, which was the only time any conference team, men's or women's, advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the national post-season event.

Can Marist do it again this season?

Is anyone willing to bet against that happening?

Not this Hoopscribe.

The Red Foxes find out who they play next later today. They get the winner of the Saint Bonaventure-Florida Gulf Coast contest, about to start shortly.

The Bonnies, the bracket's No. 5 seed, have a 29-3 overall record. FGCU, the No. 12 seed, has a 29-2 record.

But neither one is one of the sport's unassailable powerhouses.

That's why the No. 13 seed is a bit of a lucky position for Marist.

Not only did it ensure, with a first-round victory, that it would get a winnable second-round game but the Marist's previous run to the round of 16 in 2007 also came when it was seeded 13th.

Of course, Marist has proven over the years that it deserves far better than being a No. 13 seed in a 16-team bracket.

But, that's OK.

If the NCAA Tournament's selection committee continues to underrate Marist, the Red Foxes will continue to surprise fans of the women's game with so-called upsets like today's victory over Georgia.

But those of us who follow the MAAC, and women's basketball in particularly, might admit today's Marist victory can be considered an upset ... we also understand that it's truly no surprise at all.

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