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Nicholson and St. Bonaventure face Florida State in NCAA tournament first round

Saint Bonaventure and forward Andrew Nicholson will face Florida State in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. CRAIG MELVIN


Fresh off winning their first Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, the Andrew Nicholson-led St. Bonaventure Bonnies were awarded the 14th seed in the NCAA tournament's East Region, and will open against Florida State at Nashville, Tenn., on Friday.

The Bonnies (20-11) learned of their seeding in Atlantic City, N.J., on Sunday, hours after beating Xavier 67-56 in the championship game. Nicholson, the A10 player of the year, led the way with 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks.

The 17th-ranked Seminoles upset North Carolina 85-82 earlier in the day to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

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It will mark the first meeting between the Bonnies and Seminoles.

The Bonnies earned their sixth tournament berth and first since 2000, when they lost 85-80 in double-overtime to Kentucky in the first round. It's a significant step forward for a program that had floundered because of a recruiting scandal in February 2003. Bonnies players boycotted playing their final two games of that season, and the scandal eventually led to NCAA sanctions.

The Bonnies' 20 wins this year are their most since going 21-10 in 1999-2000

The turnaround began with the hiring of coach Mark Schmidt in 2007. One of his first major moves was landing the 6-foot-9 Nicholson out of suburban Toronto.

Nicholson was under-recruited in part because he didn't start playing basketball until high school. He was the A10 rookie of the year in 2009, and this season led the conference in scoring, averaging 20.6 points in league games before the tournament.

With 2,083 career points, Nicholson surpassed both Bob Lanier and Earl Belcher on Sunday to now rank second on the school list. And his 242 blocks are the second most since the school began keeping track of that statistic in 1975.

Schmidt now has a 74-79 record at St. Bonaventure after the team went a combined 24-88 in the four seasons before his arrival after a six-year stint at Robert Morris.

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This marks Schmidt's first NCAA tournament berth as a head coach. As a player, he appeared in three tournaments with Boston College in the 1980s. He's also been to five tournaments as an assistant, four times with Xavier, the last in 2000, and in 1994, with Loyola, Md.

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