The year was 1989. The year AFTER I graduated from Siena, of course. They never made it to the tournament in the four years that I went there, so it was only perfect that they finally did make it the year after I graduated. Thanks guys!
It was a strange season, to be sure. A measles epidemic broke out on the Siena campus just before the end of the season or during their conference tournament, I forget which. So they got to play the finals of their tournament in Hartford to an empty arena for health reasons. And it was shown nationally on ESPN! A totally quiet arena with cardboard cutouts of fans. I shit you not!
When they won, they were assigned the #14 seed and a pairing against #3 Stanford in the first round. Stanford was a really good club that year with All-American Todd Lichti leading the way. Lichti was something else. A unique player due to his ambidextrous skills, he left Stanford as their all-time leading scorer. A 1st round draft pick by the Nuggets, he looked like he would be an NBA star. Unfortunately, injuries and a serious car crash ruined his career after just a couple of seasons. Very sad.
But he was in great shape and coming off his best season when he and the Stanford Cardinal ran into the mighty underdogs that were the Siena Men's Basketball Team. What's that you say? The Siena Men's Basketball Team? That's right. Not only did they have that crazy measles outbreak to deal with, they had no nickname in 1989! You see, Siena was previously the Indians (had to get rid of that because of the PC police) and they would soon become the Saints, but during the 1989 season they had no official nickname because they hadn't settled on one yet.
So a no-name Siena squad, literally, took down the might tall trees of Stanford in the first round that year. They lost to a decent Minnesota team in the next round, but that really didn't matter. This was Siena's first trip to the dance and they left with a victory. Something Siena has managed to do three times now including last year's 1st round upset victory over Vanderbilt.
This year they get Ohio State in the 8/9 game. OSU will be heavily favored in large part because it basically is a home game for them. But don't count Siena out in your brackets. They've worked some magic here before.
Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. All the Saints and sinners are doing it.