Excitement surrounds University of Richmond Spiders dancing in NCAA Tournament

Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard (0) goes to the basket against Davidson guard Grant Huffman (5)...
Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard (0) goes to the basket against Davidson guard Grant Huffman (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament, Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)(Nick Wass | AP)
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 7:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After clinching the A-10 against top-seed Davidson, the Richmond Spiders will make their 10th trip to the NCAAs since making the Sweet 16 in the 2011 season.

“The fact that we won hasn’t set in yet,” Senior Forward Matt Grace said. “That was always the goal: win the A-10 conference championship and then to get to the NCAA tournament. That’s been my dream since I was young.”

Now dreams do come true, not only for players like Grace, who have wanted to experience March Madness since childhood but for Coach Chris Mooney who was brought to tears celebrating with his team.

Six seniors elected to use their additional year of COVID-19 eligibility to return to Richmond this offseason to make it to this moment.

“I’m just so happy for them that it paid off and happy for Coach Mooney and everyone,” Grace said.

After a win like that, Grace is a campus celebrity.

“Matt Grace is a legend,” University of Richmond student Jack Bogdan said.

“Just walking here, people were saying great game, you know, everybody is excited,” Grace said.

The March Madness and excitement have spilled over beyond the court. Students on campus are ecstatic.

“I was shocked. I mean, it was a huge upset,” University of Richmond student Hampton Massie said. “It was great to see a team that not a lot of people expected to make it to the tournament this year actually make it to the tournament.”

Grace says he likes going into the tournament as the underdog.

“We thrived off that, off the doubters, so why not do it again,” Grace said.

The fan base seems to like being the underdog, too.

“You can just tell we have a chip on our shoulders, and we’re looking to make a run,” University of Richmond student Owen Shin said.

“The Richmond Spiders are typically looked at as underdogs, but we embrace that mentality, and we own it. we’re the spiders; we’re a small school out of Richmond, Virginia. we’re not going to back down to teams like the Iowa Hawkeyes.”

“They just seem to be a really close team, and I think that’s what sets them apart...just the comradery and teamwork,” Massie said.

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