For the first time since 2000, the App State Mountaineers are in the NCAA Tournameny-- only the 3rd time in program history that the Mountaineers are in the Big Dance.
ASU has been playing basketball since 1925 and only 3 trips to the Big Dance. This team is in rare air in ASU history.
“They’re one of 35 guys to play in the NCAA Tournament in the school’s history,” said ASU head coach Dustin Kearns. “That kind of hit me.”
The fact that they are even here is remarkable. Heading into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the black and gold had lost 6 of their last 7 games but won 4 games in 4 nights including 2 overtime thrillers to claim their first ever Sun Belt tourney title. YES! App State belongs here and they believe.
“You don’t trip down the sidewalk into the NCAA Tournament,” said coach. “Everybody in this tournament is really good.”
On Thursday night, they will take on Norfolk State in a First Four game. Some folks look down at the fact that they are in the First Four game but App State looks at it as a positive as history could be on their side.
“When the tournament expanded in 2011 to the First Four, VCU was in the First Four and they went to the Final Four,” said coach Kearns. “There’s some great stories out the First Four.”
As a matter of fact, since the tournament expanded and added the extra four teams, there has only been one year where a team that won a First Four game has not gone on to win another game in the tournament.
ASU is glad to be in the First Four as they hope it will be deja vu all over again.
“I think it’s actually to our advantage that we get to play in this First Four game,” said ASU guard Justin Forrest. “We get our feet wet because we did the same thing in the (Sun Belt) tournament. We didn’t get a bye. We had that first game on that first day and I think it really helped us and gave us an advantage to win the Sun Belt.”
Tip off tonight against Norfolk State is at 8:40 in Bloomington, Indiana.