Sampson Carter’s buildup to the Big Dance was six years in the making.

The redshirt senior got the good word Sunday night when the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament selection committee awarded UMass a No. 6 seed in the Midwest Regional.

The Minutemen will take on the winner of tomorrow night’s play-in game between Tennessee and Iowa on Friday in Raleigh, N.C.

“I’ve dreamed about it for so long, and if we win our (second-round) game, we’ve got Duke,” Carter said. “It shows the kind of team that we have and we finally get our chance. This is a wonderful feeling, and I want to go out there and show them and prove some people wrong. At the same time seeing a No. 6 seed shows the kind of respect that we’ve earned. We’ve had a great year and we’ve beaten some great teams. I’m so ready, so pumped and excited.”

Carter’s sojourn to Raleigh began in Worcester County when he competed for former UMass player Mike Byrnes at Winchendon Prep. The forward was recruited out of Winchendon by Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg, but their paths had crossed earlier. Kellogg was former UMass coach John Calipari’s assistant at the University of Memphis when Carter was leading Ridgeway High School to a fourth Tennessee state championship.

After playing in 32 games for the Minutemen as a freshman and 32 (15 starts) as a sophomore, Carter saw his junior year derailed by a hip injury just seven games in. He returned last year to play games and then, with a fifth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, started all 32 games this season on the run to the tournament.

“He’s been in the area for six years now and for him to kind of stay the course and stay true to the program I think is a testament to his character,” Kellogg said. “That’s what we try to do here, we try to recruit high-character kids like Sampson that buy into UMass and the (basketball) program. He’s really a good testament and a good role model for the young kids. If you put the time in and you are patient and buy into the program, you get to do something special like going to the NCAA tournament.”