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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Richmond doesn’t view its win over Vanderbilt as an upset

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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DENVER — It didn't take a degree in bracketology to see that Thursday's opening-round matchup between Vanderbilt and Richmond had all the makings of an upset.

The fifth-seeded Commodores had lost first-round games to double-digit seeds Murray State and Siena the past two years. The 12th-seeded Spiders have a long history of being a scary Cinderella first-round opponent.

Sure enough, both those trends held true. Richmond sprang the second upset of the day in Denver, rallying from a six-point second-half deficit to eke out a 69-66 victory that sets up a Round of 32 matchup of double-digit seeds between the Spiders and Morehead State.

"We're definitely excited, but we don't want to be one-and-done," Anderson said. "We want to keep looking further into the tournament, not just be satisfied with this win."

If Richmond forged a reputation as a giant killer with memorable first-round upsets over highly touted Syracuse, Indiana and South Carolina, this year's Spiders possess a different aura despite the double-digit seed alongside their name. This is a Richmond team that has won at least 20 games each of the past three seasons, that boasts a potential first-round draft pick in its frontcourt and that probably deserved better than a No. 12 seed after going 13-3 in the Atlantic 10 and winning the conference tournament.

That the Spiders did not view this as a monumental upset was evident from their subdued postgame celebration. Whereas Morehead State's bench stormed the floor and created a near-mosh pit at midcourt, Richmond players high-fived, shook hands with the Commodores and then quietly walked back to the locker room. {YSP:MORE}

"I don't view it as an upset, with all due respect to Vanderbilt and the great program they have," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "I don't see it as an upset, as a fan or being out on the court for the last 40 minutes. I think we have a program that can compete on a national level. We're proud of our tradition and our history. But at the same time right now, we feel like we're a national program."

For Vanderbilt, the loss was symptomatic of the troubles it has endured late in close games this season. The Commodores missed key free throws down the stretch, failed to get defensive stops when they needed them and could not even get off a potential game-tying 3-point attempt on their final possession.

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