First a poem:
High Point choked again?
More like Low Point t b h.
@ me on Twitter.
Now let's get into it.
Greek mythology tells the story of Sisyphus, a man damned to suffer in the underworld pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to have it tumble back down as he reached the summit.
Yesterday proved that such a punishment can extend to this world as well.
Members of this group, this Never Made The Tourney Club, are accustomed to going through entire seasons just to have a game, or a half, or a bounce knock them back down to the bottom. To this point in our NMTC adventure, everything has just about been going alright. Saturday, it all came crashing down now.
Tennessee-Martin was handed the best draw imaginable. As the 2-seed, they avoided getting top-seeded Belmont in the final. Eighth-seeded Austin Peay took care of the Bruins. All Tennessee-Martin had to do was knock off the 8-seed, a team they'd beaten twice already.
They got run out of the gym.
The final score may have been 83-73, but it was never close. Austin Peay got out front and stayed there, and despite pushing the boulder to the precipice, the SkyHawks have slipped down the mountain, and the boulder has rolled on top of them.
March is a cruel mistress.
Ah, High Point. The rare combination of a top-seeded team who is also a member of our Never Made The Tourney Club. KenPom tabbed High Point as an underdog, but the Panthers were still the 1-seed and UNC Asheville was still the 4-seed.
Asheville won the first half by 13 and wouldn't look back.
Not only has High Point let us down by not making the tournament, they've let us down by taking away another NIT spot from Northwestern. A truly disastrous day.
Gardner-Webb fared no better. The Runnin' Bulldogs hung with 2-seed Winthrop for a half, but the Bulldogs would surrender 53 second-half points and lose by 13. The one solace is that Gardner-Webb did score 69 points on the dot.
But not really.
A ray of light cuts through the darkness! Founding Father William & Mary gave James Madison both barrels. Omar Prewitt got busy, dropping 25 points to lead the Tribe past a team that beat them back on February 27. The road to glory doesn't get any easier for Bill and Mary just yet, but they certainly announced their intentions on Saturday.
This was the only win a club member got yesterday.
Northern Kentucky is a lot worse than Milwaukee, and never really made a game of its first round matchup with the Panthers. The Norse shall return to the club for another season.
The Penguins of Youngstown State suffered a similar fate, dropping to Detroit 92-79. Detroit's stud guard and All-Name Team representative Carlton Brundidge did most of the damage, scoring 28 and grabbing 7 boards. I'd like to think Bo Pelini was at this game and picked up a technical.
Sunday's Never Made The Tournament Action
You can watch Northwestern on Senior Night or watch the NMTC. I know what I'm doing.
No. 9 Holy Cross vs No. 4 Army (75% chance to win via KenPom)
OHHHHHHHH SNAP. Bill Carmody's upstart, scrappy Crusaders are taking on the Black Knights out at West Point in the Patriot League semis. Talk about split allegiances. Army probably has its best chance in recent memory to make its way out of the Patriot League tournament. It split the season series with Holy Cross, winning 72-68 on its home floor back in mid-February. Still, I am unashamed. LET'S GO CRUSADERS ALL THE WAY TO THE DANCE BABY HERE WE GO.
No. 5 William and Mary (48% KenPom) vs No. 1 Hofstra
A Founding Father looks to move into the finals. Hofstra's offense will be good enough to take advantage of the weaknesses the Tribe has on defense. Hofstra swept the season series, but everyone knows it's real hard to beat the same team three times in one year. This one's a toss-up, folks.
No. 7 Stetson (23% KenPom) vs No. 4 Florida Gulf Coast
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WARNING. Remember that Stetson is not eligible for postseason play due to having an APR score a fraction too low. Stetson is playing for pride. And a chance to help out Northwestern. If Stetson were to win the A-Sun, top seeded North Florida would go to the NCAA Tournament. If FGCU wins, North Florida will accept the NIT auto-bid, shrinking the bubble for Northwestern. Go Stetson go.
No. 3 Nebraska Omaha (65% KenPom) vs No. 6 Denver
Double the pleasure, double the fun in the Summit League quarters. Nebraska Omaha and Denver will do battle to move one step closer to the dream. Omaha is a deserved favorite, led by scoring machines Devin Patterson and Jake White, who both average north of 17 points per contest. A shame both of these teams have to play each other so early in the tournament.
Back Next Year
South Carolina Upstate
Grand Canyon (ineligible)
Northern Kentucky (ineligible)
UMass Lowell (ineligible)
St. Francis (NY)