Massachusetts has just one squad representing the Bay State in the NCAA’s March Madness tournament: the Holy Cross women’s team, which will take on the University of Tennessee at Martin at 9 p.m. Thursday.

For the second year in a row, Holy Cross is the only Massachusetts team — men's or women's — to play in the NCAA Division 1 tournament. The Crusaders earned their bid after 61-55 victory over BU on Sunday to win the Patriot League.

After the game, head coach Maureen Magarity said the team took “tremendous pride” in their achievement.

“It's a hard thing to do, to get to the NCAA, but to do it back to back and then, like you said, to be the only team men's or women's from Massachusetts is even more incredible,” Magarity said. “But nothing that this group does doesn't shock me and surprise me. They're just, they are incredible. And, you know, anytime you have them on your team, you know, you can do amazing things.”

Massachusetts was close to having at least two other teams in the tournament, but the men's teams at both UMass Lowell and Merrimack lost in their conference championship games.

A woman in a basketball jersey with the number 13 and the word Crusaders runs on a basketball court.
Holy Cross guard Bronagh Power-Cassidy (13) in action in the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament against Maryland, Friday, March 17, 2023, in College Park, Md.
Nick Wass AP

One Holy Cross player to keep an eye on: Bronagh Power-Cassidy, a senior guard from Dublin, Ireland, who's averaged over 16 points per game this season. She put up 21 points in the championship game against BU, while also nabbing MVP honors, all on St. Patrick's Day. After the game, she said the win was a dream come true.

“We were making jokes about it being on St. Patrick's Day and it just kind of seemed like the perfect coincidence,” Power-Cassidy said. “I know luck of the Irish is one thing, but I don't think anything about this win was luck. We all worked so hard all season.”

If the Crusaders win their first game, they have a challenge ahead: Facing Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes on their home court in Iowa City. It’s akin to getting to the second round and having to play the game's final boss.

Holy Cross knows playing in the tournament is a challenge, Magarity said.

“I think we've just got to go into this,” she said. “We have experience. We've obviously been there. We've kind of seen it all this year. We've been down, we've been up, we've been underdogs, we've expected to win. So you know, hey, at this point with this crew, what do we have to lose now?”