NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Iona College in New Rochelle will be taking on Big Ten champions Ohio State on Friday, while a first-year coach will lead Long Island University Brooklyn against James Madison to days earlier in the First Four.

Iona is the No. 15 seed in the Northeast Region Bracket, and Big Ten Champion Ohio State is the No. 2 seed in the West Region Bracket.

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At Iona Sunday, the Hynes Athletic Center was packed, 1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels reported. All the Gaels were there, along with their families, coaches, and a host of others. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the big screen, watching the brackets fill out.

Everyone cheered when the names popped up.

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Coach Tim Cluess said his players had earned the moment – particularly following a season mired in tragedy. High school standout Mike Haynes of Chicago had just committed to Iona when he was shot and killed over the summer while trying to break up a fight over a stolen necklace near his home on that city’s Far South Side.

“I’m so proud of my guys. This is a group of nine new players. I mean, we had injuries and illnesses all year long – the loss of Mike Haynes –and our guys we just fought and fought and fought, and improved as the season went on – little steps, and they put it together in the end,” said Iona men’s basketball coach Tim Cluess. “A great group of guys.”

The Iona State Gaels (20-13) won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament last winter, but were eliminated by Brigham Young University.

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