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Liberty Flames get ready to tip off the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio

Published On: Mar 18 2013 08:07:02 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 19 2013 11:54:53 AM EDT
Liberty Flames get ready to tip off the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio

After a crazy travel day, the Liberty Flames are in Dayton, Ohio where tomorrow night they'll tip off the NCAA Tournament in the First Four against the Aggies from North Carolina A&T. 

The Flames have had more than a week to relish their Big South Championship. 

Tuesday night they'll become just the second team in history to take the court in the NCAA Tournament with 20 losses. 

That included an 0 and 8 start.  In many ways, Liberty's travel plans to Dayton mirrored the season. 

Mechanical problems made the Flames nine hours late getting to Ohio Monday.

"I don't know but they wouldn't let up take off.  That's about all dumb coaches know.  They're probably on a need to know basis and I didn't need to know but they had to bring in another plane.  It kind of puts the pressure on us, but we've done our best," said coach Dale Layer. 

A big stage with a national TV audience awaits but the Flames insist they won't be in awe of the moment and they shouldn't be after the ups and downs they've endured this season.

"None of us have ever experienced playing in the NCAA Tournament so it's something different, but it's just a basketball game.  We're out there for fourty minutes but honestly I don't know if you want to forget about it.  Everything is on the line and you don't want to put pressure on yourself but this is what we practice six months out of the year for, so it's a good experience.  You don't wan to put too much pressure but at the end of the day, this is what we play basketball for," said John Caleb Sanders. 

"The first thing that coach told us was to just focus on the game, not the media or what people think or say about us.  We know we trust each other, and we're gonna do a good job," said JR Coronado. 

"I told them back in January that there's gonna be a story in March of somebody, there is every year.  A Cinderella story or a feel good story of March ans I said why not us, just think if it was us after losing eight games to start the season and we're in the dance.  And they've kind of embraced that and started saying why not us.  Slogan's don't do much for ya, but work does," said Coach Layer. 

The Flames are making their third appearance in the Big Dance and first since 2004. 

Most folks don't expect them to advance but here is a piece of good news. 

Since 2006, two other Virginia schools, VCU and George Mason have started the NCAA Tournament here in Dayton and gone on runs to the Final Four.