It came down, Morehead State Coach Donnie Tyndall said, to three teams. Two would face off in the play-in game of the NCAA Tournament Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. The third team would go right to the first round.
Chattanooga drew the short straw. Tyndall's Eagles and Alabama State will tip off at 7:30 p.m. at the Dayton Arena.
Tyndall said Morehead's Ratings Percentage Index was significantly better than Chattanooga's.
"Bottom line ... we're excited to be in Dayton," Tyndall said. "This gives us an opportunity to play a similar opponent and possibly get a win."
Alabama State (22-9) won the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAAs. This will be the Hornets' third appearance in the tournament.
Morehead (19-15) is playing in its sixth NCAA Tournament. The Eagles defeated North Carolina A&T 70-69 in a similar game in 1984, their last appearance.
That year, Morehead lost to Louisville in the first round 72-59. Tuesday's winner will play the No. 1 seeded Cardinals in the first round on Friday.
Tyndall doesn't consider the play-in game as a slight to the Ohio Valley Conference. An OVC team hasn't won an NCAA game since former member Middle Tennessee State upset Florida State in 1989.
"We don't look at this as a negative at all," said Tyndall, who is finishing his third year at his alma mater. "Somebody has to play this game. We'll play very, very hard."
Tyndall watched some of Alabama State's 65-58 victory over Jackson State in the SWAC title game on Saturday.
"They are athletic and long. They have a 7-foot shot blocker," he said, referring to Chief Kickingstallionsims. They press some and try to create tempo. They're disciplined, and they've won a lot of games."
Tyndall said the Hornets remind him of Murray State's style of play in the OVC.
The Racers used to dominated the OVC, usually with a talented, physical team featuring one star with player-of-the-year credentials.
Tyndall said the days since Morehead won the OVC Tournament on March 7 have been a "whirlwind of a week ... everything has been a blur."
He has been most pleased with the maturity and growth of the MSU backcourt.
"When our guards have played well with a positive assist/turnover ratio and defended the right way our team has been really good," he said.
"We've not turned it over a whole bunch (during tournament victories over Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin and Austin Peay). We've been a pretty complete team for a mid-major school."
Tyndall also has been pleased with center Kenneth Faried and wings Leon Buchanan and Maze Stallworth, "a formidable front line for our level."