Siena will play Xavier in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Unless they play Butler.
Or somebody else.
Speculation over the NCAA brackets has been coming fast and furious as the conference tournaments near their conclusion.
As of Thursday, bracket analyst Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com had
Siena (22-10) getting a No. 14 seed and playing Xavier in Washington, D.C. By Saturday afternoon, he had the Saints pegged as a No. 13 and playing Butler in Denver.
The guesswork can finally be put to rest at 6 tonight, when CBS holds its Selection Sunday show to announce the 65-team men’s field, which will include two teams scheduled for a Tuesday play-in game.
The only thing the Saints can
really be certain of until then is that they won’t be one of those two teams, and that they’ll probably get a No. 13 or 14.
“They had us playing Notre Dame at once, they had Georgetown, they had UConn and they had Indiana,” redshirt junior center Josh Duell of Scotia said on Wednesday. “The one thing I noticed about most of those teams is they all have a great big guy, so that’s going to be another tough night for me.”
“Even if we’re not looking at it, we’ve got a lot of fans coming up to us telling us who they have us projected to play and trying to figure out where we’re going to play,” sophomore point guard Ronald Moore said.
It looks like four teams that Siena played during the regular season will be in the field.
Memphis is one of the likely
No. 1 seeds, and Stanford, rated a No. 3 by Lunardi on Saturday, are in, as are Boise State, which won the WAC title in triple overtime, and Ivy League champion Cornell (13). Saint Joseph’s is on the bubble after losing to Temple in the Atlantic 10 semifinals.
Of those four, only Stanford did not beat Siena, but the games against Saint Joesph’s and Cornell were close. Memphis handed Siena one of the worst losses in program history.
The Saints come into their first NCAA appearance since 2002 with supreme confidence on the heels of a dominating performance over Rider in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game.
Siena played a difficult non-conference schedule and still looks back at a 97-89 loss to Syracuse in front of 17,000 at the Carrier Dome as one that got away.
“I think we can compete with any team in the country,” Moore said.
“They put on their shorts the same way we do,” Duell said. “We ended up not playing as great as we could have [against the Orange].
“That’s the one thing that’s different from some of the teams I played on before I went to CBA, sometimes we didn’t feel like we could hang with those big teams. But this team, you can’t tell them they can’t do something. Even if we didn’t play that schedule, the guys we have on our team, they wouldn’t freak out. The kind of character they have and the backgrounds those guys come from, those guys are tough as nails.”
The Siena team and coaches will watch the Selection Show on campus in the Maloney Great Room at the Sarazen student union. The public is invited to the free party from 5:30-7.
“I would like somebody that plays zone, maybe, because I know the tempo of the game won’t be as crazy, and maybe we can create the tempo of the game, because that’s the way we play,” said Duell, who played for Vermont when the Catamounts upset Syracuse in overtime in the first round of the 2005 tournament.
“I wouldn’t see us a 15, but whoever we play — I’ve been telling these guys, because I’ve had experience — we’ve got to go out there and feel like we belong out there. We just have to go out there and play like we’re capable of playing. It’s so important that you drill into your head to not just be happy to be there.”