Maze Stallworth said he and his Morehead State teammates have been "on the bracketology" watch since March Madness began.
The Eagles had to make a place for themselves on the 65-team bracket and did that by winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on March 7. That gave them several days to wonder whether they would be part of the play-in game or get a regular spot on the bracket.
"Some of us didn't want to play in that game," said Stallworth, whose three-point marksmanship helped Morehead through a successful OVC campaign and tournament. "We felt we were good enough to get a 16 seed and a regular game. Just waiting for our name to be called, my heart was beating faster than it ever has before. I didn't think I'd be that nervous but I was."
Morehead, indeed, got the opening-round game against Alabama State Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. Tip-off is 7:35 p.m.
Never miss a local story.
Stallworth liked the notion of several practice days after the OVC tourney. The Hornets, on the other hand, were competing in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament through Saturday night's victory over Jackson State in the finals.
"It will be a quick turnaround for them," he said. "We feel we're playing real well now and, on a neutral court, it's anybody's game."
Forward Leon Buchanan, Morehead's lone senior, at first wasn't excited about the play-in game.
"Now it gives us a great opportunity to play a good team and get a win in the NCAA Tournament," he said. "We'll be the only (NCAA) game on national TV and have a chance to advance and play against the number one overall seed (Louisville on Friday)."
Buchanan hopes the Eagles live up to their motto of getting better every day.
"We try to learn from our previous games and find ways to strengthen our team," he said. "We've been through some adversities, but we're a better team now."
Morehead (19-15) started the season with six consecutive losses. The Eagles finished 3-12 on the road then won the OVC semifinals and finals in Nashville.
Alabama State (22-9) had a similar start at 2-7, playing Mississippi State, Mississippi and Auburn to single-digit losses. The Hornets have won 13 of their last 14 games.