COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — The University of Maryland may be the state’s best basketball school, but they will have to share the spotlight this month with an unlikely team.
Mount St. Mary’s is just a small college in Emmitsburg, Maryland, edging into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in an exciting play-in game against New Orleans. Their star guard, Junior Robinson, had to play all 40 minutes and put up 23 points to will his team to a No. 16 seed in the tournament.
Unfortunately for them, that effort has landed them a spot against the defending national champions Villanova Wildcats.
Storied, strong, tall, well-coached, a well-known mascot — The Wildcats have it all. Mount St. Mary’s does not.
They are one of the smallest schools in the NCAA Tournament this year with only around 2,000 students enrolled. Villanova has about five times that many.
Robinson is the shortest player in the NCAA DI this year at 5 feet 5 inches, according to the NCAA. Villanova does not have a player that gets serious minutes below 6 foot 3 inches.
Villanova may not be the best scorers in the nation — they rank 74th in points per game — but they are efficient, ranking seventh in field goal percentage, second in two-point percentage, and second in free-throw percentage. On top of that, Villanova can make their opponents play how they want, ranking second in free-throw attempts allowed and 17th in points allowed per game.
Mount St. Mary’s ranks below the top 100 as a team in most stats including ranking 289th in points per game and 237th in opponent field goal percentage. They have not beaten a major conference team this season, losing by double digits all five times they had the opportunity.
Plus: a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed.