Delaware opens against Michigan State

Posted: March 18, 2014

The room fell silent. Everyone knew that Delaware's name would pop up on the television screen eventually, but through each commercial break, the blue-and-yellow-clad fans packed inside the Carpenter Sports Building for the Blue Hens' selection-show viewing party stayed on the edge of their seats.

The crowd let out a collective sigh of relief as Delaware (25-9), the Colonial Athletic Association champion, avoided a matchup with Louisville. But when the No. 13 Blue Hens saw their name appear under fourth-seeded Michigan State (26-8) in the East Regional, the raucous cheers turned into looks of astonishment.

"We were going to get a very good team, but I didn't think we were going to get the winner of the Big Ten championship," Blue Hens coach Monte Ross said.

"There were some people we were thinking about getting instead of others," senior forward Carl Baptiste said. "We didn't expect Michigan State. But we're not scared of anybody."

The game, which will be shown on TNT, is scheduled for Thursday in Spokane, Wash., 30 minutes after the end of the Cincinnati-Harvard game - which begins at 2:10 p.m.

The Blue Hens are 0-5 in their previous tournament games and have never beaten a Big Ten team. This season, Delaware lost on the road to major-conference teams Notre Dame (80-75), Ohio State (76-64), and Villanova (84-80).

"We're a completely different team here at the end of the year," Baptiste said. Delaware is ranked 24th nationally in scoring, averaging 79.5 points per game.

In 2006, Michigan State was upset in the first round by former CAA affiliate George Mason on its way to the Final Four.

"We want to play the best team out there," said Delaware's all-time leading scorer, Devon Saddler, who played against Michigan State guard Keith Appling at Chris Paul's summer camp last year.

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