Delaware Denied NCAA Tournament Berth; Blue Hens End Season with 7-4 Mark
Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- Despite a 7-4 record, ending the season with three straight victories, and being the only team in the nation to knock off two Top 10 teams during the season, the University of Delaware football squad was denied a berth in the 20-team NCAA Tournament field announced Sunday morning.
Delaware, which closed out the season with a 26-16 victory over rival Villanova Saturday evening, was hoping that its late season surge would be enough to rate among the 10 at-large selections. Ten teams earned automatic berths as conference champions.
Instead, the Blue Hens were left out of a tournament in which they advanced all the way to the national championship game a year ago. Delaware also advanced to the national title game in 2007 and captured the national championship in 2003.
"We are tremendously disappointed especially when you think about how well we played at the end of the season," said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler. "When you look at our three wins to end the season, the fact that we had two Top 10 wins, and that we will most likely finish in the top 15 in the polls, it’s hard to think they couldn’t find a way to get us in. But the coach in me sees the things we could have done to put us in a better position.”
Among the reasons stated by the NCAA FCS Football Selection Committee for Delaware not receiving a post-season tournament bid was the fact that the Hens did not have seven NCAA Division I wins.
"We are very disappointed," said Delaware senior defensive end Michael Atunrase, who posted two sacks and blocked an extra point in his final collegiate game as a Blue Hen Saturday vs. Villanova. "We always talk about how we want to be a playoff team and we didn't achieve that goal. We ended on a three-game win streak and it would have been nice to have another game to show what we could do."
The Colonial Athletic Association placed a record-tying and nation-leading five teams in the tournament, advancing that many squads for the third time in the last five seasons. The CAA has now placed at least four teams in the tournament five straight years.
James Madison (7-4) will take on Eastern Kentucky (7-4) and Old Dominion (9-2) will play rival Norfolk State (9-2) in first round games this Saturday, Nov. 26. The ODU-Norfolk winner will advance to play Georgia Southern (9-2) in a second round game on Dec. 3 while the JMU-Eastern Kentucky victor will travel to No. 2 North Dakota State (10-1) on Dec. 3.
New Hampshire (7-4) will take on Montana State (9-2), league champion Towson (9-2) will face Lehigh (10-1), and Maine (8-3) will play Appalachian State (8-3) in second round games on Dec. 3.
In other first round matchups, Albany (8-3) will take on Stony Brook (8-3) and Tennessee Tech (7-3) will face Central Arkansas (8-3). In other second round games, Northern Iowa (9-2) will play Wofford (8-3), Montana (9-2) will take on the Tennessee Tech-Central Arkansas winner, and Sam Houston State (11-0) will play the Albany-Stony Brook winner.
Delaware finished the season with at least seven victories for the second straight year and for the fifth time in the last nine seasons. Among the victories were a 27-17 win over Old Dominion on Sept. 24 and a 35-30 road win at Towson on Oct. 29.
- DDD -
Football Story Archive