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Originally published Monday, March 18, 2013 at 9:50 PM

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For Saint Mary's, it's a hectic time getting to Dayton ready to play in NCAA tournament

Preparation time lacking for Gaels

Seattle Times news services

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DAYTON, Ohio — The Saint Mary's men's basketball team had no time to celebrate its selection to the NCAA tournament.

Soon after learning they'd be playing 48 hours later in a "First Four" game more than 2,000 miles away, players rushed home to do laundry, pack and learn as much as they could about the Middle Tennessee State team they're facing Tuesday at the University of Dayton.

"I'll tell you this, I didn't see the rest of the (selection) show," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "Once I saw our name called and that we were playing Tuesday, it was a mad scramble."

Saint Mary's left Moraga, Calif., at about 6 a.m. Monday for its charter flight and arrived in Dayton just 90 minutes before its late afternoon news conference.

Gaels (27-6) senior Matthew Dellavedova said he spent time Sunday night watching film of the Sun Belt tournament and noted how hard and physical the Blue Raiders (28-5) play. Bennett called them "athletic, strong and physically gifted."

The Blue Raiders are known for putting a lot of pressure on the ball and defending the three-point line well. At times, they've gone with a four-guard starting lineup.

"Their strength is guard play; our strength is defensive guard play," Middle Tennessee State coach Kermit Davis said.

Gonzaga finishes

No. 1 in polls

Gonzaga's first stint on top of The Associated Press' poll lasted through the final Top 25 of the season.

The Bulldogs (31-2) were a runaway No. 1 for a third consecutive week, receiving 45 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. They become the first school from a non-BCS conference to finish No. 1 in the final poll since Massachusetts of the Atlantic 10 in 1996.

NOTES

• James Madison coach Matt Brady has suspended scoring and rebounding leader Rayshawn Goins for the first half of the Dukes' game Wednesday against LIU Brooklyn after Goins was arrested. Harrisonburg (Va.) police say Goins was arrested Sunday on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice.

• Police in Spokane have confirmed they are investigating two USC players over a series of fights on March 10. USC officials had said last week they had suspended starting center Dewayne Dedmon and backup big man James Blasczyk for violating an unspecified team rule. The fights in the downtown area early March 10 sent four people to the hospital.

• Former Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle has been named head coach at Grand Canyon as the Phoenix school begins a four-year transition to NCAA Division I. Majerle was in his fifth season as an assistant coach of the Suns when he left the organization earlier this year after he was passed over for the interim coach position after Alvin Gentry was fired.

• Overall graduation rates improved among players at schools in the NCAA basketball tournament this year, and African-American players in particular did better, according to a study released Monday. The annual report by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport shows African-American players' graduation success rate increased from 59 percent in 2012 to 65 percent this year, while white players' rates increased from 88 percent to 90 percent. The overall graduation rates for programs in the tournament increased from 67 percent in 2012 to 70 percent. Six out of the tournament's 68 teams have an APR score that falls below the NCAA's new 930 line, which could lead to future penalties. Those teams are Southern, James Madison, Saint Louis, New Mexico State, Oregon and Oklahoma State.

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