LIU coach disappointed with 15 seed

NEW YORK -- All across the country on Sunday evening, NCAA tournament-bound teams danced, screamed and celebrated as they found out their first-round matchups.

But not in Brooklyn.

The Long Island University Blackbirds were flat-out disappointed upon learning they were seeded 15th and would face No. 2-seed North Carolina in Charlotte, a practical stone's throw from UNC's Chapel Hill campus.

"I think we were just a little shocked. We didn't expect to be a 15 and play North Carolina," said senior Kyle Johnson. "We felt like we deserved a 14 seed at least."

Blackbirds coach Jim Ferry echoed those sentiments.

His first reaction upon learning his team earned a 15 seed?

"I'm disappointed in the seed to be quite honest," Ferry said. "When you take our body of work -- 27 wins ... the longest win streak in the country, the most road wins in the country, I don't see how we're a 15 seed to be quite honest. I thought we should have been a 13 maybe and then no lower than a 14. I thought we should have gotten a little bit more respect than that."

LIU has won 13 straight -- the longest current win streak in the country. They lead the nation in road wins with 13 and rank fourth in Division I in scoring, averaging 82.6 points per game.

"All the formulas that we've been told and all the formulas that I've listened to, I thought we would have been a lock at 14," Ferry said.

Long Island reached the tournament with an 85-82 overtime win over Robert Morris in the Northeastern Conference championship game.

The Blackbirds will be making their fourth tournament appearance. The Blackbirds are 0-3 in tournament games. In their last tournament appearance in 1997, Long Island lost 101-91 to Villanova.

On Friday, they'll face a North Carolina team coming off a loss to Duke in the ACC championship game.

The fact that they will be playing in the Tar Heels' backyard was a bit disappointing to Blackbirds' leading scorer Julian Boyd.

"It will just be another road game and we'll see what we can come up with," Boyd said.

The Tar Heels and Blackbirds have one common opponent this season -- St. Francis (Pa.).
The Blackbirds finished 1-1 against St. Francis this season, winning one game by 14 and losing another by 15. North Carolina beat St. Francis by 49 points on Jan. 2.

"They have size they can rebound they have speed they have shooting. There's a reason that they're a team that can win a national championship," Ferry said.

Ferry brings a hungry, unselfish group into the tournament. All five starters (three sophomores, two seniors) are averaging at least 10 points per game. Seven players have led the team in scoring in a game. And 11 players have scored at least 10 points in a game.

"We aren't going to change much going into this game," the coach said.

Ferry, in his ninth season with LIU, is one win shy of the school's single-season record. If he sets the mark on Friday against North Carolina, he'll go down in LIU lore for more than a season win total. He'll be the first Blackbirds coach to earn a 'W' in the Big Dance and just the fifth coach in NCAA history to lead a No. 15 seed to a first-round win.

Ferry wasn't happy with the seed on Sunday night. But it doesn't sound like he and his players will be the least bit intimidated by the Tar Heels.

"I've got a bunch of tough kids here," he said. "We'll take the underdog role."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.