Gaels Headed to Portland for March Madness

It took until the final bracket, but once the nearly 300 in attendance learned where the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball team would be headed for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the roar inside University Credit Union Pavilion signified only one thing.

The Gaels are headed to the big dance, and they don’t have to go far to do it.

Saint Mary’s will begin its postseason journey a short plane ride away in Portland, Ore. where the No. 5 seed Gaels will square off with either Wyoming or Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off for Thursday's game is set for 4:20 p.m. PT at Moda Center, home of the Portland Trail Blazers, and the game will be broadcast live by TBS. 

Sunday’s announcement again showcased the community that has long buoyed Saint Mary’s basketball. A vibrant crowd enjoyed a pre-show gathering outside of UCU Pavilion, with players and coaches mingling with fans and alums, playing games, taking photos, and enjoying the company of the Gael faithful.

The interactive nature of Sunday’s party showed once more how ingrained basketball is in the Saint Mary’s community. Not only did young fans get a chance to meet and greet the Gaels, alums got a chance to talk x’s and o’s, and fellow students paired off to compete against the team in games like cornhole.

Once the crowd moved inside, the Saint Mary’s spirit team and sports band took over, providing the soundtrack and spirit for an unforgettable afternoon. Fans lined both sides of the court, with the team stationed right in the middle, and those in attendance waited patiently as the first three brackets were announced with SMC’s name absent.

Of course, this time the Gaels were confident they’d hear their name called. With a No. 17 national ranking, 25-7 record, and a resume that includes big wins over No. 1 Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Utah State, and San Francisco, Saint Mary’s wasn’t a bubble team this time around. That resume earned the Gaels a No. 5 seed, the highest in program history.

That led to the eventual announcement that SMC will enter as the No. 5 seed in the East Region. Wyoming and Indiana each earned a No. 12 seed and they will square off in Dayton, Ohio for the right to take on the Gaels. The winner of SMC’s first round game will go on to play either No. 4 UCLA or No. 13 Akron.

Information about tickets for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament can be found HERE. More information about the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament, including a full preview of the first two rounds, will be out on SMCGaels.com later this week.