Blog & Tackle: NCAA Opening-Round Game to have Maryland flavor

March 16, 2008 | Chris Pika

The NCAA has announced that Coppin State will take on Mount St. Mary’s in the NCAA Division I opening-round game set for Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, and televised at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The NCAA traditionally takes the two lowest-rated teams and unfortunately, it means one of the teams from the state will not make it to the actual field of 64.

The good news is that the game is nationally televised and that the country can see two teams that had decidedly different runs to the NCAA tournament.

Coppin State is 16-20 and the only team in the field with a losing record. The Eagles were 4-19 after 23 games and won 12 of their final 13 games, including four in four days to qualify.

Mount St. Mary’s, 18-14 overall, was 9-3 over their final 12 games in capturing the Northeast Conference title.

By the way, a familar face to local basketball fans will be seen later today during the NCAA selection show. Tom O’Connor, the chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Committee and the athletic director at George Mason, was the former AD at Loyola College from 1976-86. He also served as the Greyhounds’ head coach from 1974-76.

Congrats to UMBC, Coppin State and Mount St. Mary’s for their accomplishments this season. Congrats also to Morgan State, whose regular-season MEAC title gives them an automatic bid to the NIT.

I have just heard about a third postseason tournament this year — the College Basketball Invitational. The 16-team tourney will battle with the NIT for at-large teams, and in an interesting twist — the two finalists will play a best-of-three series for the title.

Is it a positive that two Maryland teams are on national TV on Tuesday or it is unfair to Mount St. Mary’s to be in the play-in game? What do you think? Leave a comment below …