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It's Notre Dame! ODU Basketball Team Off to New Orleans for Round One of NCAA Tournament

A few hundred ODU basketball faithful, along with members of the men's team, filled the food court in Webb Center Sunday night to find out where the Monarchs will play their first game of the NCAA Tournament.

The announcement of a date with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in New Orleans on Thursday - the final pairing of the 32 announced during the CBS Selection Show - caused a noisy din to erupt.

ODU was awarded an 11 seed in the South Region. Notre Dame is a six seed. ODU and Notre Dame have met only once before. The Irish beat ODU, 67-62 in the 1983-84 National Invitational Tournament (NIT).

In the matchup with Notre Dame, ODU will play its second team this season from the powerful Big East conference. The Monarchs sprung an upset at Georgetown just before Christmas.

"It's exciting. When you have 32 matchups and you're the 32nd one announced, it kind of teases you along pretty good," ODU Coach Blaine Taylor said. "You're talking about one of the storied cities around, one of the storied schools around, so it's a pretty scintillating matchup. Great interest. When you're talking about a non-BCS school versus a BCS school, it's one of those matchups you hope to get."

The game will tip off at 12:25 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. The team had already gathered tape of several opponents for scouting purposes, including Notre Dame, so they'll spend a busy few days preparing a game plan to take on the Irish.

Forward Frank Hassell, who was cheering for any opponent, provided the first-round site was close to home and warm, is thrilled with both the matchup, and the city.

"I love it. Notre Dame is a really good team. I've been watching them play a lot. I'm actually a fan of (Notre Dame forward Luke) Harangody, but we match up well. We're a tough team, and we're going to bring everything we've got," Hassell said. "It'll be fun. We're not scared of anybody. We're all going to go out there and do our thing."

Many ODU fans are already planning to take the trip. Season ticket holder John Costulis said the opportunity to take on a Big East school in the NCAA Tournament doesn't come along that often. Besides, Costulis said, this year's team is a pretty special group of kids. "This team just really feels like it connected with the community and the kids. I really love their togetherness. It's just a wonderful opportunity for them and I'm happy for them."

This article was posted on: March 15, 2010

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