Gaels Are No. 5 Seed in NCAA Tournament

For the opening round of March Madness, Men's Basketball heads to Albany to take on VCU on March 17.

by SMC Athletics | March 13, 2023

Here’s the big news from NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday for Saint Mary’s Men’s Basketball: For the second year in a row, the Gaels are a number-five seed in the tournament. Saint Mary’s will be playing in Albany on Friday, March 17, against Virginia Commonwealth University.

Selection Sunday is when the full bracket for the 68-team NCAA men's basketball tournament is revealed. The tournament is filled with 32 conference champions who have earned automatic bids, as well as 36 at-large teams. 

For the big reveal, Saint Mary's hosted a Selection Sunday event at the UCU Pavilion, with students, alumni, and fans from across the generations on hand. The event drew reporters from television, radio, and major news outlets as well.


Sixteen Straight Seasons of Postseason Play

Saint Mary’s return to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season is also the second time in program history the Gaels have done so; the previous run was 2012 and 2013. Overall, this is the 13th trip to the NCAA Tournament for Saint Mary's in program history, including the canceled 2020 NCAA Tournament. And it's the tenth time under Head Coach Randy Bennett.

With another NCAA Tournament berth secured, the Gaels will be in the postseason (NCAA or NIT) for the 16th straight year. For the record, that’s the fourth-longest active streak in the country—behind Kansas, Michigan State, and Gonzaga.


Two men's basketball players and mascot Gideon celebrate March 12 2023 NCAA bid announcement
The big reveal: Saint Mary’s is a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. / Photo by Ben Enos 


This year’s initial matchup is against Virginia Commonwealth University, who the Gaels have history with in the NCAA Tournament. These two programs first met when Saint Mary's was a seven-seed and VCU was a ten-seed in Salt Lake City, during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. In that game, the Gaels bested the Rams 85–77. 

VCU is coming into the tournament with a lot of momentum, winning nine straight games, and having won the Atlantic Ten Tournament on March 12, beating Dayton in the title game 68–56. They are 27–7 through the end of the tournament. One of the things that stands out about the Rams is their defense. They rank 17th, according to KenPom in defensive efficiency, and 23rd in fewest points per game. Their style of defense also creates a lot of turnovers; they rank 16h in the NCAA in most turnovers forced.


Mid-Major Momentum

By virtue of owning a top-five seed for the second-straight year, Saint Mary's becomes the first true mid-major basketball program to receive a top-five seed in consecutive NCAA Tournaments since Saint Louis in 2013 and 2014. Last year as a program-best five seed, Saint Mary’s beat Indiana by 29 points. That was the largest NCAA Tournament loss in program history for the Hoosiers.


Campus Sendoff on March 15

On Wednesday, March 15, at 8:45 a.m., the Saint Mary's community will gather outside the UCU Pavilion to show support as the team boards their bus to begin the big cross-country trek. There will be free Johnny’s Donuts available beginning at 8:30 a.m. to get the morning started right!

Also, be sure to keep an eye on CBS Sports this week as they follow the Gaels for their “March Madness Confidential” series. Go Gaels!


Where to Get Tickets, When to Watch

Here is where you can find more information about tickets for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. More information about the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament, including a full preview of the first two rounds, will be out on later this week.

Tip-off for the Gaels vs. VCU is preliminarily scheduled for 11:00 am Pacific Time on TBS.

Campus Watch Party: The Saint Mary's Campus Community is invited to Dryden Hall to watch the Gaels take on the VCU Rams at 11 a.m. on March 17. 


Story updated March 14, at 1:45 p.m.

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