Before massive brands like AT&T cared about college basketball — and long before anyone paid much money to be associated with it — the Mountaineers of Mount St. Mary’s were all-in. You have to go way back in hoops time, of course, back even before those guys in Oregon waffle-ironed the sole of the first Nike. But since basketball is a game that honors its traditions, even as it evolves swiftly, it’s important to point out Mount St. Mary’s pedigree.
No player on Mount St. Mary’s during its glory years ever hit a 3-pointer, for instance (they didn’t exist). And no Mount St. Mary’s game was likely ever stopped for a television timeout. (They won their first conference title in 1944.) But the first round matchup against defending NCAA champion Villanova is still cause to shout out their great hoops history. Head coach Jamion Christian is sitting in the seat long held by Hall of Fame coach Jim Phelan, who coached the Mountaineers for 49 years before retiring in 2003. Phelan is 87 and, as a native Philadelphia guy, will have to root against the local Villanova outfit! Now a Division 1 school, Mount St. Mary’s competed for decades at the Division II level. At that level the Mountaineers reached the Final Four in 1957, 1962, 1962 (champions), 1981 and 1985. Game time: March 16, 4:30pm ET on CBS.