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Iona Among NCAA Tournament’s Last Invitees Year After VCU’s Run

Iona College of New York has a chance to become this year’s Virginia Commonwealth after getting one of the last two invitations to the national men’s college basketball tournament.

New Rochelle, New York-based Iona celebrated its place in the field of 68 schools for the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament one week after an upset loss to Fairfield University in the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

Iona was selected over schools such as the University of Miami, Drexel University, Mississippi State, the University of Nevada, Oral Roberts University and the University of Washington. A year ago, Virginia Commonwealth was in Dayton as one of the last schools in the NCAA field and pulled off five straight upset wins to reach the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

“They had a very good non-conference strength of schedule,” NCAA Tournament selection committee chairman Jeff Hathaway said of Iona on TruTV. “A very good basketball team, very good on offense. Obviously a lot of people will debate it and that’s what makes it fun.”

The Gaels, who went 25-7 and won the MAAC regular-season title, will play Brigham Young University tomorrow in Dayton, Ohio, for a chance at a No. 14 seed in the West Regional. The winner advances to a matchup against Marquette University in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 15.

Iona has a 1-8 record all-time in the NCAA tournament, with its lone victory coming in 1980, when the Gaels beat Holy Cross under late coach Jim Valvano, who went on to win a national championship at North Carolina State.

Iona’s last NCAA tournament appearance came in 2006, a 16-point loss to Louisiana State.

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