SALT LAKE CITY — As many college basketball followers know, last year was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed when UMBC knocked off Virginia.
So the coaches and players from No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson know such an upset is possible as they get set to take on No. 1 Gonzaga Thursday afternoon at 5:27 p.m. at Vivint Arena.
At Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, FDU coach Greg Herenda joked about how UMBC “beat us to it” last year.
“I always dreamed of it,” he said. “I knew if I got to the tournament this is my seed. I wasn’t going to be a No. 4 seed. I’m a 16 seed. We mentioned it once, the seeds, to our team and that’s the only time we mentioned it. Right now we’re playing one game against one really good opponent.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few has been in the position as the No. 1 seed a couple of times before and has always been wary of his opponent even before last year's upset.
“I have watched enough over the years that I think probably reinforces the hope and belief of the team that’s in the 16 slot,” he said. “Those of us that have been in the 1 slot have fully understood that it could definitely happen and obviously it did happen.”
GO FOR 3: Herenda talked about how different basketball is since he was a kid growing up.
“I used to go to the foul line and start working out,” he said. “Now young girls and boys go to the 3-point line. Even my mother, God rest her soul, when she would come to our practices, she was 69 years old, and she was trying to make 3-point shots. I said, ‘Ma, start with the layup.’”Comment on this story
GAME NOTES: Gonzaga freshman guard Greg Foster Jr. is indeed the son of former Jazzman Greg Foster, who played in Utah from 1995-99 . . . Herenda spent a couple of weeks in a San Antonio Hospital at last year’s Final Four and nearly died after suffering blood clots in his legs and a fever of 104 for several days . . . Fairleigh Dickinson’s win over Prairie View A&M was the first NCAA victory for the program in six tries . . . The Zags have made 21 straight NCAA appearances and are 31-21 all time with nine trips to the Sweet 16, three to the Elite Eight and one Final Four appearance . . . This marks the sixth time Gonzaga has played in an NCAA regional in Salt Lake.