Some SERIOUS stuff went down yesterday.
First off, the North Florida Ospreys - CA-CAW! - advanced to the finals of the Atlantic Sun, putting them one game away from shuffling off this immortal coil we have here and becoming genuine members of the "Made the NCAA Tournament Club", aka not the kiddie table of college basketball. That will be covered below, obvi.
Secondly: The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, aka THE BIGGEST JERKS ON THE PLANET. First, they knock off Tennessee-Martin, our club member homeboys, the Skyhawks. Then, they turn around and beat OVC No. 1 seed Murray State, meaning Murray State gets an auto bid to the NIT, putting even more pressure on Northwestern's chances of making that tournament. Let me put it this way: this blog only has a few legit vendettas: as of right now, they are referee Jim Burr, Howard Eisley (don't ask) and people who use the word "guesstimate". Well, guess what: Tennessee Tech, you just made that list. I hope you all get f*cksawed to death. (First use of the word "f*cksaw" on this site, first of many I assure you.)
Four games today, including North Florida's finals appearance, which will be on ESPN2 - I sorta hope this post develops into a mini gamethread for our bro.
Jump jump jump jump it up.
5 p.m., Atlantic Sun tournament: No. 6 North Florida Ospreys (15-18, 10-10, kenpom ranking 217) vs. No. 1 Belmont (29-4, 19-1, kenpom ranking 24)
Our squad: North Florida. Ca-caw!
To say North Florida's run is improbable is putting it kindly: kenpom put their chances of even making the finals at 8.2, seeing as they had to go through Jacksonville and East Tennessee State, the second-highest and then highest ranked teams the Ospreys had beaten all year. Now they'll have to make an even bigger jump and take down a squad that only lost one conference game and people predicted to win this tourney violently.
Let's turn this into a referendum on who we should really be rooting for: the team that has never made it (and why should we root for them anyway - just makes the Cats lonelier in the nevermadethetourney club) or Belmont, seeing as if Belmont loses, they take away a potential NIT spot from the Cats. Actually, that's easy: North Florida til I die. Swoop, Ospreys, swoop, CA-CAW!
North Florida's chances of winning today: 5 percent.
North Florida's chances of winning the conference tourney (calculated before the tourney) .6 percent
Something North Florida has going for them: They're clearly playing their best basketball of the year: the team had literally never beaten ETSU, ever, before yesterday, and won 59-55 with a solid performance featuring four double-digit scorers, just a day after they rode Jerron Granberry and nobody else to a victory over Jacksonville. The thing that sprung North Florida was their defense, holding ETSU to 35 percent shooting and 2-for-16 from downtown, not completely surprising for a team that actually has pretty average defense.
Some things North Florida distinctly does not have going for them: Belmont is quite good. Like, very good. We learned that the other day before the played our beloved Kennesaw State, North Florida learned it when they lost 91-59 to the Bruins earlier this year. They have the second highest forced turnover rate in the nation (27.4 percent, yes, they force turnovers on 27.4 percent of opposing possessions) as well as the highest steal percentage, thanks in part to bench player Kerron Johnson, the nation's leader in that category. On offense, they have four players who shoot over 40 percent from three, so,they're good at that too.
Reasons to irrationally hate Belmont: First off, for knocking off our boys, Kennesaw State. Hurtful, dog. Secondly, as noted the other day, hipsters like their el stop in Chicago. (I have gone vinyl shopping off that el stop. I'm guilty. Sorry.) Also, for standing in the way of North Florida, who have too much heart to go out like this.
7:15 p.m., America East Tournament: No. 6 Hartford Hawks (10-19, 7-9, kenpom ranking 301) vs. No. 3 Maine Black Bears (15-14, 9-7, kenpom ranking 202)
Our squad: Maine.
Hey, another higher-ranked team! I have a soft spot for the America East after my big bro went to Boston University, giving me ample opportunities to visit Boston and urinate on Fenway Park, and causing a younger me to lead the Terriers to an NCAA Championships in NCAA Basketball 03 or whatever year it was.
Maine's chances of winning today: 64.2 percent
Maine's chances of winning the conference tourney: 9.2 percent.
Something Maine has going for them: They're simply the better team: a win over Penn State, something SOME schools I attend couldn't do in two chances, proves that.
Some things Maine distinctly does not have going for them: Actually, there are quite a few of these: the most troubling is that Maine enters the conference tourney on a seeeeerious tip of a backslide, having lost seven of eight coming into the postseason including OT losses to Stony Brook and Albany and a loss to Maryland-Baltimore County (the Retrievers!), the 339th best team in the country per kenpom. Next, they lost both their conference matchups to Hartford. Eeesh. And to add to that, the tourney is being hosted by Hartford, which turns this from a neutral site game into an away game, which just adds to the unfortunateness of Maine's scenario.
Reasons to irrationally hate Hartford: Have you ever been to Hartford? It's a terrible, terrible place, much like every city in Connecticut. (You think I'm joking, but I've been in ghettos before, and the one place in the world I've actually been scared for my life is Waterbury, Connecticut. It's like a city where all of the good things about cities decided to leave.) Also, having met one graduate of the University of Hartford, I guarantee that every graduate of Hartford says "Hartford" kinda quick and mumbly the first time they say it when talking about where they went to college in hopes you think they went to Harvard and then are reluctant to clarify. Jerks.
7:30 p.m., CAA Tournament: No. 11 William and Mary Tribe (10-21, 4-14, kenpom ranking 205) vs. No. 3 Hofstra Pride (20-10, 14-4, kenpom ranking 143)
Our squad: William and Mary
A battle of teams with singular team names. William and Mary beat a pretty damn good James Madison team yesterday on the strength of 35 points - 35 points! - by Quinn McDowell, who dropped 20 in the second half and pretty much ran train on his least favorite colonial leader, shooting 5-for-6 from three. (although I wish he hadn't eliminated James Madison's Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens, but that's besides the point.)
William and Mary's chances of winning today: 33 percent. (Better than yesterday!)
William and Mary's chances of winning the conference tournament (calculated before the tourney): .1 percent.
Something William and Mary have going for them: James Madison was only a six seed, but for whatever reason, kenpom thinks they were the better team compared with Hofstra. (JMU was kenpom ranked at 104). The Tribe's games in the season are indicative of that - lost both times to the Pride by a three points, including an overtime showing on the road.
Something William and Mary distinctly do not have going for them: Hofstra had a first-round bye, so they're well rested. Also, yeah, the two games were close, but they were 0-2.
Reason to irrationally hate Hofstra: Long Island. (By the way, I ETHERED this girl who was trying to talk to me about how she was from New York with a "wait, are you really from New York?" "Yeah! Totally!" "Or are you just pretending you're from New York but you're really from Long Island?" a few weeks back. Yes, she was from Long Island. ("But it's only a half hour away from the city! I go there every other weekend!") And yes, she continued to try to talk to me about how similar we were, because people from Long Island are the worst. But the look on her face after that Long Island line was pretty damn priceless.) Jerks.
8:30 p.m., Southern tournament: 4N Elon Phoenix (14-16, 7-11 kenpom ranking 230) vs. 1S College of Charleston Cougars (22-9, 14-4, kenpom ranking 76)
Our squad: Elon
Yeah, you can beat The Citadel, who also haven't made a conference tourney, in some serious never-made-the-tourney-on-never-made-the-tourney crime. But can you beat a team that pretty much ran your conference and also beat Tennessee? Proooobably not.
Elon's chances of winning today: 14 percent.
Elon's chances of winning the conference tourney (calculated before the start of the tourney): .8 percent.
Something Elon has going for them: They shot 50 percent from three yesterday! And they're more likely to make the tournament than The Citadel, now.
Something Elon distinctly does not have going for them: Charleston is way, way better than them. Note: an 18-point victory at Elon, and the fact that they are No. 1 in the nation in blocking shots per kenpom
Reason to irrationally hate College of Charleston: Way to name your college after a 1930's dance trend. Jerks.
and on to our one dearly departed bro - never-made-the-tourney teams went 3-1 yesterday, so, that's why there's a lot of things up there and less things down here.
Club member since: 1948. (OG Status.)
Felled by: Never-made-the-tourney bro Elon, 85-74, in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament, despite shooting 10-for-19 from three.
Great moments in The Citadel basketball history: They are famous for never having made the NCAA Tourney.
Why they will be missed: For their institutionalized system of hazing, racism, and sexism based on a system that has nothing to do with the actual military, outlined in this fantastic article from when Rick Reilly was good at writing.. Oh, wait, that's why they're douchebags. I suppose they won't be missed.