North Carolina A&T got the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament win on Tuesday night. The Aggies topped the Liberty Flames in a back and forth affair that officially opened the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Liberty was looking to make history of its own in the tournament’s opening round. The school was the second team to ever make the “Big Dance” while sporting 20 losses. Liberty had entered Tuesday’s play winning their last five. Obviously being the first team with 20 losses to record a tournament victory wasn’t quite in the cards.
Liberty got out to a fast start in the game, with a 9-2 lead but the Aggies, who were a three point favorite entering the game surged back and the two schools traded punches for the rest of the contest.
North Carolina A&T looked like it was going to blow its big break when they allowed Liberty’s John Caleb Sanders to drive coast-to-coast with just seconds left in the game. Sanders put up a left handed layup that trickled off the side of the rim and the Aggies held on for a 73-72 victory.
The win ended a 30 year streak for NC A&T. The school had a career record of 0-9 in the NCAA Tournament and the Aggies hadn’t sniffed the Big Dance since 1995. No matter who won tonight, it would have been a bit of a Cinderella story.
Neither the Aggies nor the Flames finished higher than sixth in their conference during the regular season. Both teams had to go on improbable conference tournament wins to get to this point.
First year NC A&T coach Cy Alexander said he’ll let his team savor the win for a few hours, but then they have to get ready to take on the #1 seeded Louisville Cardinals on Thursday.
Do you think North Carolina A&T has any chance to knock off Louisville?