Mercer holds the perfect attitude needed to capture America's heart and grab another NCAA Tournament win.
"With these guys, I don't know who's beating us," said head coach Bob Hoffman when asked about the Bears now holding the glass slipper in a post-game interview with Rachel Nichols.
With slipper in hand, they'll have a chance to accomplish what their #DunkCity counterparts did a year ago, something they felt they missed out on: a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
After defeating Duke in the 2nd round on Friday, the Bears will face off against No. 11 Tennessee, a team who Bob Hoffman and squad are familiar with. In fact, they defeated the Vols in the 1st round of the NIT last season.
"We're just focusing on tomorrow. Last time they just outplayed us and we didn't really have good energy," said Tennessee guard Jordan McRae in the pregame press conference.
In that contest, McRae was just 3/14 from the field while Mercer star while Langston Hall tallied 16 points and dished 7 helpers. In order to repeat that result on Sunday, the Bears will need more than just that.
In Knoxville they found a way to win while being out rebounded 40-29, that won't cut it this time around. The Vols are coming off a thumping of UMass and are a playing a man's game right now. Things will be even harder for Bob Hoffman's team as big man Monty Brown suffered a concussion in the win over Duke. Even more unfortunate, Brown can't remember a single moment from the historic win.
Brown's absence will be sorely felt against a large Tennessee front court. While the Blue Devils settled for outside shots against the Mercer zone, don't expect a tough nosed Vols squad to do the same. The Bears will need help down low from reserves TJ Hallice and Ike Nwamu. Against Florida Gulf Coast earlier this season it was Hallice who came up big and against Duke it was Nwamu.
"They’re different than last year. They have another big man in there, so when Stokes goes out, they still have another huge person down there we have to keep off the boards," Hall said at the pregame press conference.
On the offensive end, they'll have to continue their unselfish play which gave them five double digit scorers on Friday. One weapon who has yet to get involved is senior forward Bud Thomas. Add his outside shot to the diverse Bears arsenal and you might just see another Atlantic 'Stun' appearance.
Location: Raleigh, NC (PNC Arena)
Date/Time: 6:10 p.m. ET / Sunday, March 23