Ladies and gentlemen. It has happened. There is no poetry today, because today is a day of pure jubilation.
For there is good news from Long Island and California! No need for depressing poems; Stony Brook has advanced to its first NCAA Tournament in school history behind 43 points from Jameel Warney! And Cal State Bakersfield made its first NCAA Tournament on a last-second shot from Dedrick Basile! Congratulations!
The NMTC bids farewell to Stony Brook and Cal State Bakersfield. We will miss the Seawolves and Roadrunners, but they will certainly not miss us. They are free, free at last.
This is why college basketball is amazing.
No NMTC fanbase has had more heartbreak than Stony Brook in the last 15 years. After joining the America East conference in 2001 and being terrible for years, Stony Brook developed a really good squad. Stony Brook has made the America East Conference Final in four of the last five years and lost all four times. The one time it didn't make the final was in 2013, when it had the best team in the conference by a large margin but had to go on the road against Albany and lost. Albany has actually knocked Stony Brook out in three consecutive years, including a buzzer-beater in last year's conference tournament.
Needless to say, Stony Brook entered its fifth conference title game with a ton of baggage. Fellow NMTC member Hartford took out Albany, but Stony Brook still had to beat Vermont. KenPom gave Stony Brook an 80 percent chance of victory, but Vermont led by 9 at halftime and opened a 15-point lead midway through the second half. It looked like Stony Brook was going to blow it again.
But then, Jameel Warney, noted Mack Morrison fan, took over. He scored 43 points on 18-of-22 shooting and completely dominated Vermont inside. Carson Puriefoy added 23 points and sunk the free throws in the final seconds that secured the win. Stony Brook was helped by a number of dubious calls, but whatever. THE SEAWOLVES HAVE ESCAPED!
Stony Brook was given a No. 13 seed by the Selection Committee and will face Kentucky in the first round. While Kentucky is a difficult matchup for any team, Warney and Puriefoy should be able to hurt Kentucky on offense. Kentucky is only 70th in the nation in adjusted defense, which is actually behind Stony Brook at 61. However, the main problem will be stopping Kentucky's No. 1 offense. Stony Brook does not have the athleticism to match up with Tyler Ulis and co., and this could end up being a shootout.
Cal State Bakersfield
Again, college basketball is amazing. Dedrick Basile is clutch! Cal State Bakersfield played a close game with perennial WAC powerhouse New Mexico State, but that buzzer-beater sends them through to the tournament. The Roadrunners joined Division I in 2007. Prior to this season, their only postseason tournament experience was a bid to the CIT in 2012.
Cal State Bakersfield was the best team in the WAC statistically, but received the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament because of two losses to New Mexico State during the regular season. But as the old saying goes, it's hard to beat a team three times. As expected, Bakersfield and New Mexico State did not score many points. Both previous matchups failed to break 70 points, even though the first game went to double-overtime.
Cal State Bakersfield was given a No. 15 seed by the Selection Committee and will face Oklahoma in the First Round. That is a very tough matchup. Bakersfield has an elite defense (25th in the nation), but will have difficulty scoring against Oklahoma's equally impressive defense. Oklahoma is also a much better shooting team than any team that the Roadrunners have faced all season. It will be tough for Bakersfield to pull the upset, but crazier things have happened.
Someday, I hope that every team and fanbase on this planet can experience the sheer joy and elation that Cal State Bakersfield and Stony Brook had this weekend. Remember, there's always next year.
This concludes our 2016 coverage of the Never Made The Tourney Club. See you next year,
South Carolina Upstate
Grand Canyon (ineligible)
Northern Kentucky (ineligible)
UMass Lowell (ineligible)
Abilene Christian (ineligible)
Central Arkansas (ineligible)
St. Francis (NY)
William and Mary
Texas-Rio Grande Valley