Tiny Dancers: Mount St. Mary's upsets Robert Morris, makes NCAAs

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

C (USATSI)
Senior point guard Julian Norfleet leads the charge for the Mount. (USATSI)

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About every other year we get a team that sneaks into the Field of 68 with a .500 or sub-.500 record. Mount St. Mary's is that club this season. The fourth-seeded Mountaineers knocked off No. 1 Robert Morris (21-13), which has now lost in the NEC title game three times in the past four years and been knocked out of the NEC tournament by Mount St. Mary's four times in the past eight seasons.

Robert Morris won both meetings between these teams during the regular season, each by eight points. But the team was just off on Tuesday night. MSM led the entire way.

It's a program -- the Mount! -- that is 1-3 in the NCAA Tournament all-time, that one victory coming in the first round back in 2008. This group went 4-9 in non-conference play and is certainly more suited to offense than defense.

Player to know: Julian Norfleet. Senior point guard whose assist rate is 38.3, meaning 38.3 percent of the time he's on the court and a basket is made, he's responsible for it. Very impressive number. Norfleet had 17 points in MSM's win Tuesday night. This is not a deep team, but it does have a 7-footer and it likes to run. For such a thin bench, the Mountaineers sure know how to go.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 16-16 overall, 9-7 in the Northeast Conference
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2008 (lost to UNC in Round of 64 as 16 seed)
  • Jerry Palm predicts: 16 seed
  • RPI: 214
  • KenPom ranking: 207
  • Sagarin ranking: 220
  • Best wins: vs. American, at Robert Morris
  • Worst losses: at Maryland-Eastern Shore, at UMBC, at LIU-Brooklyn
  • Notable stat: The Mountaineers have opponents take just 23.9 percent of their shots from 3-point range. That's a good thing, but there's a reason for it. Allowing 54.4 percent from inside the line makes for one of the worst 2-point defense in the country.
  • Closing quip: This team will be headed to Dayton, almost definitely. Congrats to the kids for making a run no one outside of that campus thought was coming. But we've got another case where the top seed in a conference, a dominant team in the league, is booted and a small conference won't have its best chance at stealing an upset in the bracket that matters most.
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