First, a poem:
This is no country for old tourney-less teams,
Even in weak conferences, they still get creamed
Those dying dreams of tournaments never witnessed
Every single one, they have missed, out-fitnessed
By teams better, more polished, some even clad in plum
The NMTC waits for what is past, or passing, or to come.
After three days of cautious optimism, four Founding Fathers of the Never Made The Tourney Club have all fallen into a familiar pit that has dogged them for 68 years. Since the Division I distinction was made in 1948, five schools have failed to make the NCAA Tournament. After the events of this weekend, of the five, only Northwestern has a shot at making it. Godspeed.
Up until this week, Bill Carmody's first year at Holy Cross was not very good. The team went 5-13 in the Patriot League, finishing 9th in the conference. KenPom gave Holy Cross a 0.4 percent chance of making the final and a 0.05 percent chance of making the NCAA Tournament.
But after a 60-38 dismantling of Army, Holy Cross is one game away from playing in the NCAA Tournament. The irony of Bill Carmody leading a team clad in purple to the doorstep of glory is not lost on any Northwestern fans. Meanwhile, Holy Cross fans cannot stop marveling at his accomplishments.
Holy Cross might have a good in-game hoops coach for the first time in my life basically.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 6, 2016
Holy Cross' victories have come at the expense of an NMTC team, however. Army will remain in the Never Made The Tourney Club after its blowout loss at home. The Black Knights were 9-point favorites but shot 22 percent from the floor. That 1-3-1 zone proved to be impossible for Army to break. This was Army's best shot in years, but Bill Carmody made sure to reaffirm his position as the warden of the NMTC. Army is out, but the Holy Cross Crusaders take on Lehigh on Wednesday to decide the Patriot League title.
William & Mary was tied at 65-65 against Hofstra with 3:41 to go. The Tribe would go on to score just one more basket for the rest of the game. Hofstra was not much better, but a Denton Koon layup with 8 seconds remaining doomed William & Mary to yet another year in the NMTC.
Stetson may be ineligible for the Tournament, but it came within inches of pulling off an improbable victory in the Atlantic Sun Final. The Hatters' Derick Newton missed a late free throw that would have given Stetson a lead in regulation. The game went to overtime and a last second block from Florida Gulf Coast's Zach Johnson stopped Stetson from going all the way. Stetson's 80-78 defeat takes another NIT bid away from Northwestern, as North Florida will get an auto-bid because North Florida would have made the Tournament if Stetson had won.
No. 6 seed Denver knocked off Nebraska-Omaha 78-70. Both squads are in the NMTC, but considering Nebraska-Omaha had a better chance of making it than Denver, this was not an ideal result. On Saturday, IPFW defeated fellow NMTC member South Dakota. Denver will take on South Dakota State, the Summit League's tournament veteran. IPFW will face North Dakota State, the Summit League's other tournament veteran. If the two NMTC teams can win and break the Dakotas' stranglehold on the Summit, perhaps we will get a guaranteed bid for an NMTC team.
Monday's Never Made The Tournament Action
No. 1 Stony Brook (96% KenPom) vs. No. 7 Hartford — 6 p.m. CT, ESPN3
Hartford did Stony Brook a huge favor by knocking out perennial favorites Albany, but KenPom gives the Hartford Hawks little chance to upset Stony Brook in the second round. Anything could happen, but this has been Stony Brook's year thus far. This is the best Stony Brook team since 2013, which won the regular season title but was forced to go to the NIT after losing to Albany in the conference tournament.
No. 4 New Hampshire (20% KenPom) at No. 3 Vermont — 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3
New Hampshire looked competent in its victory of Binghamton last week, but defeating Vermont will be a different matter entirely. Vermont defeated New Hampshire twice in the regular season, including a 16-point blowout at New Hampshire. But we all know it's hard to defeat a team three times in one season, right? If New Hampshire and Stony Brook win, an one team is guaranteed to leave the club.
No. 1 IPFW (54% KenPom) vs. No.5 North Dakota State -— 6 p.m. CT, ESPN3
No. 2 South Dakota State vs. No. 6 Denver — 8:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3
Can IPFW end the four-year run of North Dakota State and South Dakota State making the tournament? The IPFW Mastodons will have to defeat North Dakota State first. Denver faces South Dakota State, a team that is statistically far superior to the Denver Pioneers. However, this is March, so Denver should be able to take its shot.
No. 5 Savannah State (74% KenPom) vs. No. 12 Delaware State — 4:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3
Delaware State is one of the worst teams in the country. Delaware State is 348th of 351 teams in KenPom Pythagorean rating. Savannah State should win this game handily.
Back Next Year
South Carolina Upstate
Grand Canyon (ineligible)
Northern Kentucky (ineligible)
UMass Lowell (ineligible)
St. Francis (NY)
William and Mary