Asheville relishes chance to make history

Asheville relishes chance to make history
March 16, 2011, 11:09 pm
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 7:07 p.m.

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By Ryan OHalloran

Eddie Biedenbach knows his teams strengths, knows who their wins have come against and knows the quality of teams in the power conferences.

And the longtime North Carolina-Asheville coachbasketball lifer delivered a verdict Wednesday at Verizon Center.

Were not one of the top 68 teams in the nation; we arent, he said, referring to the new size of the NCAA tournament. We dont try to say were somebody were not, but were pretty good. We can beat a lot of teams in the country.

Can we win six more in a row? We can dream.

It will take a dream effort for the Bulldogs to experience The Impossible Dream a No. 16 seed beating No. 1 seed, in this case Pittsburgh.

No. 16 seeds are 0-104 all-time against No. 1 seeds.

The average margin of victory the past five years is 26.3 points, and only one game has been decided by fewer than 10 points. (The closest 1 vs. 16 matchup in history was Purdues two-point win over Western Carolina 16 years ago.)

Last year, the wins came by 16, 23, 29 and 29 points.

People give us a one-in-a-million chance, guard Matt Dickey said before practice. This is a one-in-a-million opportunity. We have a chance to make history. It hasnt happened, but theres a first time for everything. Hopefully, tomorrow, we can do something good.

Something good was Dickeys second-halfovertime performance (16 of his 19 points came after halftime) against Arkansas-Little Rock in Tuesday's first-round NCAA victory. That win triggered a chaotic 20 hours.

A second charter flight in as many days, this one to Washington, and a middle-of-the-night arrival. It feels presidential, junior J.P. Primm said.

Seeing themselves all over ESPN when they got up Wednesday morning. I hadnt been on TV since the Mickey Mouse Club,' Biedenbach joked.

A police motorcycle escort to the arena hours later. I was more nervous there than Ive been all year on the bench, Biedenbach said.

And a date with Pittsburgh Thursday at about 3 p.m. Its not every day that a small school gets to be on TV, so its been cool, Dickey said.

That Asheville is even in position to talk about playing the "David" role is unexpected. This is a program, after all, that posted one winning record the previous nine seasons, hadnt reached the tournament in eight years and was 13-13 on Feb. 19 after losing to Northeastern.

Since then, though, the Bulldogs havent lost, including two wins at Coastal Carolina and the victory over Little Rock.

We had a couple ups and downs where I used the term, Fifty-cent millionaires they won a couple games and thought they had done something, Biedenbach said. We finally put it together late in the season.

Asheville relies on three juniors to lead the way Dickey (15.3 points per game), Primm (14.4) and Chris Stephenson (12.7). Dickey and Primm have combined for 134 3-pointers.

I coached the same way last year and the year before and we didnt get here, Biedenbach said. Particularly, Matt and J.P. have been tremendous leaders.

Do the Bulldogs have to play a perfect game to make history?

I dont know, Biedenbach said. Were going to make some mistakes and miss some shots.

Obviously, the chances are slim that Asheville can take down the Panthers. But that wont negate what the Bulldogs have already accomplished.

Its been an almost overwhelming experience this past year, Dickey said. Its been fun. I want to keep it going. Hopefully, tomorrow night we can pull off the big upset. That would top everything.

Yes, it would.

Contact O'Halloran at
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