The LIU Blackbirds began NCAA Division I tournament action Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, as they tipped off against James Madison University. They reached the national tournament with a 91-70 NEC championship game win over St. Mary’s, as seen on ESPN.

It was their third consecutive trip to the “Big Dance.” Blackbirds coach Jack Perri, along with his staff of assistants–Chuck Bridge, Mark Catzonetti, Jason Harris, and Josh Pelletier, director of basketball operations-have done a tremendous job, in that they are achieving for the most part without local products, many of whom play at local high schools spitting distance from the campus.

The roster includes just two local kids, Gerrell Martin from Wings Academy and Booker Hucks, who played at Bay Shore in Queens. The majority of Perri’s squad comes from Texas, while squad members from Maryland, New Jersey and Toronto, Canada, round out the team.