MORAGA -- After nearly a week of sweating out their NCAA tournament fate, the Saint Mary's College men's basketball team got good news right away Sunday.
The Gaels are in -- barely.
Saint Mary's (27-6) was picked to play Middle Tennessee State (28-5) in a "First Four" game in Dayton, Ohio, meaning the Gaels were among the final teams to earn an at-large bid. The Gaels and Blue Raiders, both No. 11 seeds, will square off Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. (PT) at the University of Dayton.
But Saint Mary's starting guard Jorden Page is doubtful against Middle Tennessee, coach Randy Bennett said. Page suffered a knee injury in last Monday's loss to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference tournament final.
Page's status for the rest of the NCAA tournament is unknown, should the Gaels advance, but his return hasn't been ruled out. Page averages 6.4 points and 19.1 minutes per game.
The Gaels-Blue Raiders winner will face Memphis, the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region, on Thursday in Auburn Hills, Mich.
While Saint Mary's was relegated to bubble status after falling to the Zags in the conference tournament final, Bennett said he wasn't all that worried about hearing his team's name called Sunday.
"I felt good going into this," Bennett said. "This is the best our numbers have been, other than when you win your conference tournament and you know you're in.
"It would have been a bad sign for our conference (if we didn't get in) ... Honestly, I'm surprised we were seeded as low as we were, but it doesn't matter. We're playing and that's what matters."
The Gaels, who made school history by being selected to the tournament for a second straight year, didn't have to wait long to hear their fate once the selection show began. The Midwest Region was announced first.
Though the Gaels made the tournament for the third time in four years, this trip will be different. They've never been in a play-in game, and they don't know much about Middle Tennessee, which won the Sun Belt's regular-season title before falling in the conference tournament semifinals.
"I've actually heard a lot about them recently because Bruce Bowen on ESPN has been hyping them up a lot," junior Beau Levesque said. "I don't know anything about their game plan, but I know they're going to be a tough matchup."
Middle Tennessee is making its first NCAA appearance since 1989, when it lost to Virgina in the second round. Bennett is familiar with Blue Raiders coach, Kermit Davis, calling him a friend.
"We have to get a good grasp on who these guys are, how they play, who their best players are in a short amount of time," Bennett said. "In the scheme of things, 48 hours is not a long time to get ready for an opponent. This game's going to be more about what we do than what they do. Same for them."
The Gaels had reason to be nervous heading into Sunday, even though they owned an RPI of 30 and their only losses since Dec. 23 came against No. 1 Gonzaga. With just one top-50 RPI win (at home against Creighton), St. Mary had a resume that lacked luster.
Saint Mary's knows what it's like to be passed over by the NCAA selection committee. When the Gaels sat on the bubble in 2009 and 2011, Selection Sunday ended in disappointment.
"I had a TV on in the locker room (before the selection show), and they said we were the last four in, and that makes you a little bit nervous," senior Matthew Dellavedova said. "We're obviously happy we got in, but we're not just excited about that. We're going there to do a job."
Saint Mary's (27-6) vs. M. Tennessee St,. (28-5), 6:10 p.m., Tru-TV