Mount St. Mary's battled through its own poor shooting to win last night's NCAA Tournament play-in game against Coppin State, 69-60, in Dayton, Ohio. The Mount shot poorly from the field but effectively from the free-throw line (26-of-32) and won the battle of the boards (Mount St. Mary's Kelly Beidler had 15 rebounds).
The victory means The Mount has the distinction of playing the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, North Carolina. The projected odds show that the Tar Heels are about a 30-point favorite.
Although not one of the 92 No. 16 seeds who started this journey have been able to make it past the first round, The Mount can take inspiration from the handful of 16th seeds who nearly pulled it off. Here are some of the most notable:
*Fairleigh Dickinson, 1985. In the first year of the expanded tournament, the underdog Knights had a 10-point lead in the second half against No. 1 seed Michigan, fell behind by 12 and then battled to within two before losing, 59-55.
*Princeton, 1989. Pete Carril's Tigers hooked up with John Thompson's Georgetown Hoyas. Princeton was reportedly a 23-point underdog but had the Hoyas fighting for their lives. Georgetown escaped, 50-49. The Hoyas' Alonzo Mourning blocked two shots at the end.
*East Tennessee State, 1989. In the same tournament during which Princeton nearly upset Georgetown, East Tennessee State frightened Oklahoma, 72-71. East Tennessee may have pulled off the upset but scored just three points in the game's final five minutes.
*Murray State, 1990. Murray went to overtime with Michigan State before losing, 75-71. A Murray three-pointer at the end of regulation sent the game into OT.
*Western Carolina, 1996. The Catamounts missed two jumpers on the last possession in losing to Purdue, 73-71.
*Albany, 2006. The final score -- Connecticut 72, Albany 59 -- doesn't tell the story. The Great Danes led by 12 points, 50-38, with 11 1/2 minutes left in the game. UConn, a 21 1/2-point favorite snapped out of its offensive lethargy and went on a 17-2 run during the next six minutes to take the lead.