Now that I've depressed PITT and Duquesne fans, here's some good news.
The Pittsburgh region has a local school that is on their way to the NCAA Tournament. To find the team, take a 15 mile trip from downtown Pittsburgh to Moon Township. There you will find the Robert Morris Colonials of the Northeast Conference.
What Should I Know About Robert Morris?
The Colonials, as stated earlier, play in the Northeast Conference.
They finished the season with an overall record of 19-14 and a conference record of 12-6.
This past Tuesday, Robert Morris defeated St. Francis of Brooklyn 66-63 for the NEC title and the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. It is their first appearance since 2010.
Why does Robert Morris sound Familiar?
In 2013, the Colonials made the NIT Tournament and played one seed Kentucky. Yes, that Kentucky who went 31-0 during the regular season this year.
Since Lexington was hosting early round games in the NCAA Tournament, the Colonials, the road team in this case, got a "home game" at their home arena, the Sewall Center.
Robert Morris defeated Kentucky 59-57. And yes, the road teams fans stormed the court.
Who Is Their Coach?
The head coach of the Colonials is Andy Toole. He is 34, but looks young enough to be a player on his team.
Toole was hired in 2010 and is in his fifth season with Robert Morris.
Since his hiring, Toole has led the Colonials to the NIT Tournament twice, and his team has been in the NEC Championship game four times. Of course, they finally took home the title this past Tuesday.
Before leading the Colonials to the NCAA this season, Andy Toole's finest hour came in the 59-57 win over Kentucky in the 2013 NIT Tournament.
Any Local Players on the Team?
There is one local guy.
Elijah Minnie, a freshman forward who is from Monessen, PA, but attended Lincoln Park, a charter school for the performing arts that has built its basketball team into a powerhouse in AA in District 7 (known by local and most of Pennsylvania as the WPIAL). He helped lead the Leopards to a district and state title in his senior year.
With the Colonials, Minnie has average 21.5 minutes per game this season, had a great performance in the NEC Championship Game and will be a big part of Robert Morris' future success.
And also, everyone loves the local player.
Where Will They Land in the Tournament?
Well, according to the latest prediction from bracket guru Joe Lunardi, Robert Morris would be a 16th seed that would have to play one of the "First Four" games on Tuesday against projected 16th seed Manhattan. If the Colonials win, they go to the Round of 64, and awaiting them in Charlotte would be one seed Villanova.
So, What are Their Chances of Going Deep in the Tournament?
As a projected 16th seed that will most likely play that extra game in Dayton, the Colonials won't be picked to beat whichever one seed they play in the next round. But they call it "March Madness" for a reason, so you never know. There's always one Cinderella team.