By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia University Rams are set to open play in the Division II NCAA Tournament on Saturday.  Herb Magee’s squad is the eight seed in the East region and that earns them a first-round match-up with the top seed in the region, Franklin Pierce.

The Rams bring a 19-9 mark into the tournament after receiving an at-large berth.  They lost in the semifinals of the CACC conference tourney to Bloomfield.  That defeat left the Rams squarely on the bubble.  But that bubble did not burst, much to the relief of junior guard Jimmy Connolly.

“I think our whole team’s excited.  All the players, our coaching staff.  We weren’t sure if we were going to get in.  Definitely the feeling right now is excitement.  We’re ready to get another opportunity to play and this weekend we are hoping we can make the most of our opportunity.”

Philadelphia University has had to overcome a lot to get here.  Connolly, the Rams leading scorer at 16.7 points a game,  missed time at the start of the season because of concussion.  Forward Corey Francisco, the team’s third leading scorer and top rebounder, is out with a foot injury and guard Nick Christian battled through a late season shoulder problem, but is okay now.  Under the stewardship of the Hall of Fame coach Magee, however, the Rams kept it afloat and now focus on the Ravens – who are 21-7 and hail from the very tough Northeast 10 Conference.

Connolly says they know what they have to do to try and pull off the upset.

“I think sticking to our offense, not rushing anything.  Certainly we’ve got to defend,  they’re very talented.  We’ve got to play both end of the floor.”

Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Jimmy Connolly:

Philadelphia University and Franklin Pierce will play Saturday at 6:00pm in Worcester, Massachusetts.  The winner of this game plays the winner of UMass-Lowell and Bloomfield on Sunday.

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