2006_03_smonncaa.jpgThe NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has lost its first team. Last night, Monmouth defeated Hampton 71-49 in the play-in game. It's Monmouth's fourth trip to the big dance and its first victory. Their reward? A trip to Philadelphia to play Villanova. While Phily might ordinarily be a great place to play an opening round game if you're from the West Long Branch, New Jersey school, Villanova is less than 20 miles away. That should be a nice home-court advantage for the Wildcats.

Monmouth, the champions of the Northeast Conference, were led by Chris Kenny who had 20 points, including six 3-pointers in the lopsided victory. John Bunch, a 7'2" mammoth 320-pound center for Monmouth had 5 blocks off the bench.

Monmouth's impossible task of trying to advance past the round of 64 begins Friday. Bronx native Allan Ray will lead the Wildcats despite injuring his eye in last week's Big East tournament. Doctors have cleared him to play sans goggles.

Photo by AP/Al Behrman