It’s official: the No. 13-seeded Stony Brook Seawolves (26-6) will play the No. 4-seeded University of Kentucky Wildcats (26-8) in the first round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament at Des Moines, Iowa.
Stony Brook will have its work cut out for them on Thursday, March 17 after rallying in a come-from-behind win over the University of Vermont Catamounts (21-13).
Senior Jameel Warney helped lead the team to the dance for the first time in school history with 43 points against Vermont. Stony Brook trailed by 15 at one point before coming back for 80-74 victory.
Kentucky beat the Texas A&M Aggies (26-8) by an 82-77 final in overtime to secure its spot in March Madness. It was the 29th time that the Kentucky men’s basketball squad has won the Southeastern Conference.
Warney, who is averaging 19.8 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game, will be the key player for Stony Brook. The Seawolves will likely need him to replicate his Vermont performance in order to have a shot at winning. That means he’ll need to stay strong on the inside, grab rebounds and continue to knock down shot after shot.
Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray averages even more points per game than Warney at 20.2.
Secondary players will also play a key role in the match-up. Kentucky sophomore Tyler Ulis is averaging 16.8 points per game with 7.2 assists per game.
Stony Brook’s strong defense will need to be at its best to slow down players like Murray and Ulis.
Stony Brook senior Carson Puriefoy is averaging 15.1 points per game with a .401 three-point percentage.
“It’s a dream come true,” Puriefoy said. “It was one of the best moments of my life and it’s still going. So [I] can’t wait. I know everybody here is just on Cloud 9.”
Stony Brook dominated the America East this season, posting a 14-2 conference record. After being viewed as the favorite for so many games, Head Coach Steve Pikiell’s team will have to get used to being heavy underdogs.
“They’ve [Kentucky] been there, done that before, storied program, but we’re here to play,” Puriefoy said. “We can make some noise in the tournament, I think.”