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Eleven days ago the College of Charleston beat Northeastern in overtime to capture the Colonial Athletic Association’s championship title and secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  

It has been a very long 11 days. But today the wait is over. Soon the College will step onto the court in San Diego’s Viejas Arena to play the Auburn Tigers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – a fact that is emblazoned in a blue NCAA patch on the front of the team’s maroon jerseys for tonight’s game. 

Jarrell Brantley, Joe Chealey and Grant Riller at a pre-game press conference.

Jarrell Brantley, Joe Chealey and Grant Riller at a pre-game press conference. (Photos by Mike Ledford)

And junior forward Jarrell Brantley says he is ready to lace up his shoes and start the game.

“I would say for myself I think this is an amazing experience,” says Brantley. “Some people never get to cherish this moment, so I think that’s the biggest part of what we’re doing, embracing everything we’re going through. We’ve been through adversity, good times and bad times. So, I think when we get on the court after we get past the first few minutes we will be alright.”

The Cougars head into Friday’s matchup as a 13 seed in the Midwest Regional while Auburn is a 4 seed. Even though Auburn is a higher seed, the Cougars are a popular pick by some sportswriters to upset Auburn. But senior guard Joe Chealey says he isn’t paying attention to the noise surrounding those predictions. 

“We try to focus on our preparation and go about it the same way,” says Chealey. “We’re confident in our game plan, and we will go out and do our best and try not to focus on what everybody else is saying.”

Coach Earl Grant agrees.

“We’ve been working and preparing and getting ready for this moment and we know we’ve got a huge challenge in front of us, and I think it’s a great opportunity for our conference, our program, our campus and our city,” says Grant. “We want to go out and play basketball the way we’re capable of.”

The Cougars will tipoff with the Tigers tonight at 7:27 p.m.(EST). The game will air on truTV (Channel 72 on Comcast and Channel 38 on Spectrum). The College is hosting a game-watch Party at TD Arena for all Cougar fans. Doors open at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.