American earns date with Wisconsin

American earns date with Wisconsin
March 16, 2014, 9:45 pm
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(Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY)

The American University Eagles knew they would be dancing, they just didn't know where. On Sunday, it became official.

American was named the No. 15 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night and will play their second round matchup on Thursday.

The Eagles already had their tickets to the big dance punched by winning the Patriot League tournament. Their reward? A date with the Wisconsin Badgers in Milwaukee.

"We're excited to still be playing," said first-year head coach Mike Brennan.

It's been a roller coaster season for the Eagles. After opening conference play with ten-straight wins, American lost five of its last eight to close out the regular season.

“With all the wins to start, we knew it wasn’t going to be as easy playing these teams the second time around,” said Brennan, “but I’m proud of the way we responded.”

Respond they did.

Despite stumbling in the regular season, the Eagles were able to finish what they started by winning the Patriot League tournament including a finals win over top seeded Boston University. It is American’s third Patriot League Championship in seven years.

Now things get interesting with the second round matchup with Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the top basketball teams in the country, lead by head coach Bo Ryan. The Badgers have made the tournament every year since 1999. In that time, they have been to the Sweet Sixteen six times, the Elite Eight twice and the final four once.

History also highlights the enormity of the task ahead for the Eagles as a 15 seed has only defeated a 2 seed seven times in the history of the tournament.

None of that is news to coach Brennan, but that doesn’t make the opportunity any less exciting for him or his team.

"We’re excited to get back to practice tomorrow.”

This is American's third NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2009. The Eagles will face Wisconsin on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET.