AP Photo/Spartanburg Herald-Journal, John Byrum
The Wofford College basketball team watches the NCAA bracket pairings for the upcoming tournament at Leonard Auditorium in Spartanburg, S.C., Sunday, March 13, 2011. Tim Johnson, center, and his teammates react to seeing they will travel to Denver to play against BYU on Thursday in the first round of the playoffs.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Wofford's players weren't shy about who they wanted to play in the NCAA tournament. They laughed and exchanged high fives as No. 3 and No. 4 seeds like Kentucky, Connecticut and Texas passed by Sunday.
And when the 14th seeded Terriers figured out they were playing No. 3 seed BYU on Thursday in Denver, they pointed at the Cougars players on the screen and cheered.
"I think our style of play matches up well with them. A more athletic Big East team — I don't think that match up would have gone as well," senior forward Noah Dahlman said.
BYU features the country's leading scorer in Jimmer Fredette, who is averaging 27.8 points a game. But the back-to-back Southern Conference champion Terriers got to the NCAA tournament by relying on Jamar Diggs to keep the nation's fourth leading scorer, College of Charleston's Andrew Goudelock, in check.
"We're an excited bunch. We think Jamar Diggs is one of the best defenders in the country. Jimmer Fredette is the best player in the country. And for those two to match up will be great," senior guard Cameron Rundles said.
Wofford won't be awed by the NCAA tournament atmosphere. As a No. 13 seed last year, they were tied with Wisconsin in the final minute before losing by four.
This year's team didn't have as impressive a non-conference resume — the only tournament team they've beaten is George Mason — but with four returning starters, they played better together down the stretch, winning eight in a row.
"Last year we were happy to be in the tournament. We were there, like little kids in the candy store," Diggs said. "This year is more about the opponent — I don't know much about BYU, but it is a team we can match up with."
Terrier coach Mike Young tried to temper his team's enthusiasm a little. He doesn't know much about BYU and was antsy to wrap up media interviews so he could head to his office and start watching video of the Cougars.
"I think after I watch Brigham Young tonight for hours on end tonight I will have the same feeling for them that I had for some of the others," Young said.
While Young hasn't seen a whole BYU game yet this year, he has seen plenty of highlights of Fredette.
"I hope we hold Fredette under 75 points," Young said. "There will be some sleepless night here leading into Thursday night."
Wofford's selection show party continued to show off the little school's quirkiness. The event was held in an auditorium where the school usually holds piano and violin concerts. A number of students in the crowd were editing papers or doing other homework as they waited for the selection show to start.
The liberal arts college in Spartanburg is known for its high SAT scores and low enrollment. Wofford has less than 16,000 living alumni. BYU had almost 33,000 students on campus last year.
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Dahlman is student-teaching in a high school American history class and has to be there Monday before the team heads to Denver for Thursday's game. Other players were trying to get out of the party quickly to finish papers or study for exams so they could be clear of assignments by the end of the week.
But don't think the Terriers expect to be heading home before next weekend is out. This team doesn't want its 2011 NCAA tournament to end with just one game.
As Rundles posed for pictures with friends, he said the same thing over and over again as he smiled: "Sweet 16!"