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Central Delaware Sports
Who will be Blue Hens' first-round partner in Big Dance?
Delaware players withe the trophy after winning the CAA title on Monday night. (Delaware sports information photo/Mark Campbell).

NEWARK — Monte’ Ross is having a pretty good week.

To be sure, the Delaware men’s basketball coach has kept busy.

He’s done his share of interviews since the Blue Hens won the Colonial Athletic Association title on Monday night in Baltimore.

But since Ross doesn’t know yet who Delaware will face or where it will be playing in the NCAA Tournament, he’s also had a little extra time to watch some of the other conference tournaments.

“Having the (CAA) tournament early is great when you win and you know that you’re in,” said Ross. “It’s pretty neat to watch these other games, know that you’re already in and just see how these other things play out. It’s a lot of fun.”

The Hens have to wait until Sunday when the 68-team NCAA bracket is revealed starting at 6 p.m. on CBS-TV to see what happens next. The team will watch the show on a big-screen TV in the Carpenter Sports Building off Main St. on campus.

There’s more information for fans who want to attend the ‘watch party’ at the school’s website, bluehens.com.

Until Sunday evening, however, no one knows who, when or where Delaware will be playing when the Big Dance gets rolling with first-round games next week.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not endless speculation about the bracket. ‘Bracketology’ they call it and you can find the entire 68-team bracket predicted at any number of websites.

So if the experts know what they’re talking about, the Hens seem like they’ll be a 13th seed in one of the 16-team regions. That’s not a bad guess considering Delaware has been a No. 13 in three of its previous four NCAA appearances (it was No. 15 in the other).

A couple people do have Delaware as a No. 12 or 14 this year.

And who will the Hens play? Well, if they’re a 13th seed that means they’d draw a fourth seed.

If you want to use the national polls as a guide, a fourth seed would translate into an overall ranking of 13-16. In the final regular-season polls (AP, USA Today Coaches), that pool of teams includes Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Creighton, North Carolina and Iowa State.

Sure enough, a couple experts have Delaware going up against Iowa State or North Carolina. But schools like Duke, San Diego State and Ohio State – which the Hens lost to by 12 points earlier in the season – have also been thrown out there.

As to where the Hens will play, there’s eight possibilities: Raleigh, Buffalo, Orlando, St. Louis, Milwaukee, San Antonio, San Diego or Spokane, Wash. The NCAA committee likes to keep the fourth seed reasonably close to home when it can so the matchup will probably go a long way in determining Delaware’s destination.

In the Hens’ four previous tournament trips they’ve played Cincinnati in Dayton, Louisville in Indianapolis, Purdue in Chicago and Tennessee in Charlotte, N.C. A few experts have Delaware going across the country to Spokane this time.

Of course, with the major conference tourneys being played this weekend, the whole picture is in a constant state of flux. And, until it comes up on the TV screen on Sunday evening, it’s all just educated guesswork.

In the meantime, Ross will get his team ready to play the program’s biggest game in 15 years against somebody, somewhere at some time.

“You just don’t know,” said Ross, who went to the NCAAs four times as an assistant at St. Joseph’s. “You just don’t know. For us, it doesn’t really matter what seed you are, you’re going to play somebody good. You’re going to have to play well in order to win the game.

“The great thing about it is, it really doesn’t matter. We’re going someplace.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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