College basketball fans know about Selection Sunday in March. Teams and fans gather to watch the announcement of which teams have earned an invitation to the NCAA tournament. Players erupt in excitement when their school name flashes on the television screen. Selection Sunday came in November for the University of Indianapolis football team. The Greyhounds celebrated as they earned their first ever invitation to the NCAA Division II tourney.
"Ever since I've been here, that's been the goal," said junior quarterback Chris Mills from Lafayette. "Get to the playoffs and make a run. It's pretty special. This whole campus is definitely feeling the buzz about the football team. I can't wait."
UIndy hosts Midwestern State (TX) Saturday at noon at Key Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the schools. The Greyhounds last played in the postseason in 1975, when the school was known as Indiana Central and played at the Division III level.
"Anytime you do something for the first time in school history, it's real special," said UIndy head coach Bob Bartolomeo. "We're quite proud of the effort our team has put together. We're excited about Saturday."
Bartolomeo points to the leadership of his 15 seniors for this season's success.
"I've always thought since Coach Bart became the coach here and since we've progressively gotten better throughout the years that we would be able to make a playoff run in the near future," said senior linebacker Max Davis, a Cathedral High School product. "So why not this year?"
The Midwestern State Mustangs (9-1) are ranked eighth in NCAA Div. II, Indianapolis is 18th. But the Greyhounds (9-2) host the game due to their No. 4 seed in Super Region Four of the national tourney. Midwestern State is the No. 5 seed. The winner Saturday visits top-seed Colorado State-Pueblo November 24 at 2:00 p.m.
Midwestern State is back in the playoffs for the fifth time in 11 years under head coach Bill Maskill. The Mustangs run for 336 rushing yards per game.
"They're ranked pretty high in the country," said Davis. "I know that they are really good running the ball. That's one of our focal points on defense. We've got to stop the run in order to win this game."
UIndy reached the playoffs after winning the Great Lakes Valley Conference title for the first time in school history. Senior wide receiver Mar'quone Edmonds won GLVC Offensive Player of the Year honors with 17 touchdown catches. Bartolomeo won conference Coach of the Year honors.
"Our kids play real hard for 60 minutes," said Bartolomeo. "Offensively, we've got a lot of firepower. All around, a great football team."