HARTFORD, Conn. (WCAX) The UVM men's basketball team is back in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in program history.
Thursday afternoon, they'll take on Florida State.
Jack Fitzsimmons is in Hartford, Connecticut, the site of tomorrow's game. He spoke with Galen Ettlin about some of the parallels between this contest and the most famous win in program history.
The Cats tip off against those Seminoles at 2 p.m. the XL Center in downtown Hartford.
In Vermont's six previous NCAA Tournament appearances, they've racked up two wins.
One of those was a First Four matchup with Lamar in 2012, but the one that came seven years earlier carried a little more significance.
We are, of course, talking about the 2005 upset of Syracuse when T.J. Sorrentine hit one from the parking lot and Tom Brennan threw his arms up in unadulterated joy.
Now, believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities between that game and Thursday's matchup with Florida State. Vermont was a 13 seed back then, and they're a 13 seed now. Florida State is a trendy Final Four pick after an impressive run in their conference tournament, as was that Syracuse team. Thursday's game is being played in New England, the first time the Cats have played a tournament game in the region since 2005.
That 2005 Vermont team had a freshman guard by the name of Kyle Cieplicki on their roster and he is still a staple with the program, having worked his way up to the position of associate head coach under John Becker. We spoke with Cieplicki Wednesday to get some of his thoughts on the similarities between Thursday's game and that famous night in Worcester.
"I think the biggest thing, the biggest parallel from that year to now is just the ability to come into this game and play as loose as you have all year," Cieplicki said. "Having been a part of those teams that were 14-2, 15-1 like we have been the last couple of years, you feel a lot of pressure in the conference tournament, those one-and-done games. So, I think the guys are excited to play in front of a lot of their home fans and just be able to go out there and let it go and have some fun."