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Sunday, March 11, 2012
Rapid Reaction: LIU, Iona make Big Dance

By Kieran Darcy

Brackets: PDF | GIF

Some quick thoughts following the NCAA tournament selection show:

BIG SURPRISE! Iona -- the regular season champ in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which was upset in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament -- made the field of 68, which few people expected coming into the day.

The Gaels (25-7, 15-3 MAAC) were one of the final four teams to receive an at-large bid, which means they have to play a play-in game on Tuesday, which will tip off at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET. Iona will play BYU (25-8), which finished in third place in the West Coast Conference at 12-4, behind St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

The winner will be a No. 14 seed, and will face No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky., as part of the West bracket.

SMALL DISAPPOINTMENT: LIU Brooklyn, the regular season and tournament champion of the Northeast Conference, was the only local team guaranteed to be in the field coming into the day.

LIU received the No. 16 seed in the West bracket and will play No. 1 seed Michigan State in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. The Blackbirds, who were a No. 15 seed a year ago, are thrilled to be back in the Big Dance, but they thought they deserved a higher seed (more to come later tonight).

The Spartans (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten) tied for first in the Big Ten during the regular season, and beat Ohio State to win the Big Ten tournament on Sunday.

BIGGER DISAPPOINTMENT: Seton Hall (20-12, 8-10 Big East), the other local team that was on the bubble heading into the day, was left out of the field entirely. ESPN.com's final edition of Bracketology had Seton Hall as the last team in the field, and Iona being left out -- but the selection committee obviously saw things differently.

We'll have reaction from Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard later tonight as well.