NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Students at Iona College in New Rochelle are showing their support and enthusiasm for the basketball team's placement Sunday as the No. 15 seed in the West Bracket in the NCAA Tournament.
The Gaels will play Ohio State, the No. 2 seed in the West Region Bracket, on Friday.
"I'm really excited to see Iona finally making it to the national tournament," said Swainos Gill III, a junior. "I have a bunch of family members at other colleges, and they're always talking trash about Iona not making it, so it's good to just rub it in their faces."
Having family at other big basketball schools provided a reason to be extra proud of Iona for others as well.
"I support Iona and go to all the games, and I love basketball because my family's really into sports," said Caitlin Brown, whose sister goes to Gonzaga University, which got a No. 1 seed. "I'm so glad we're going to the tournament. I really think the team's good."
Fans around campus purchased Gaels clothing items from the bookstore to show off their school spirit and made plans about where they would watch the game.
Gill said he bought a hoodie and a T-shirt to wear Friday when he catches the game on TV with friends.
"We just got our March Madness T-shirts in last week, and last night people were buying them and wearing them, showing their pride for Iona," said Rich Tonns, the manager of the campus bookstore. "People are really excited."
Iona had already secured a tournament berth by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last week.
"It's great to see them qualify," sophomore Ron Distante said. "They're going against Ohio State, but hopefully they'll put up a good fight. It will be a good game."
Senior Liz Caruso said the team deserves the berth after a season of hard work. "I just wish them well and congratulate them. It's very cool for Iona."