“And worse I may be yet: the worst is not
So long as we can say 'This is the worst...”
- Edgar, King Lear, Act IV, Scene I
In these parts, it is an ignominious tradition to track the fortunes of the multitude of teams that have never made the NCAA Tournament. Rodger Sherman performed this task for years at Sippin’ on Purple, and we will keep his endeavors alive here at Inside NU until, you know, it happens.
By this point in time, you surely know Northwestern is the only power conference team to have never made the NCAA Tournament. After Saturday’s loss to Indiana, I have nothing to say on that matter. The rest of the blog is for that particular chronicle.
Last year, Cal. State-Bakersfield and Stony Brook made the NCAA Tournament and left this club. Good for them. I’m sure that felt great.
(sits cross-legged, stares blankly into space)
There are four other teams that were around when Division I basketball started who have been with us the whole way. They are William & Mary, Army, The Citadel and St. Francis (NY). We must give them special treatment here:
THE FOUNDING MEMBERS
William & Mary - The No. 4 seed in the Colonial Athletic conference will play fellow NMTC member Elon in its first game. Getting past UNC-Wilmington will be a very difficult task. They have a shot, even if it’s not a great one.
Army - After Bucknell got upset last year, it looked like Army had a chance to make a run at a Tournament bid. Then they lost to Bill Carmody’s (!!!!!!!!!) Holy Cross team. Army is the No. 8 seed in the Patriot League Tournament this year and will face Lafayette on Tuesday.
St. Francis (NY) - St. Francis went 4-27 and did not qualify for the NEC Tournament. The drum beat marches on, eternal, and deafeningly silent.
The Citadel - The Southern Conference regular season is not over yet, but The Citadel is languishing in in a three-way tie for eighth with a game against Chattanooga this week that The Citadel will probably lose. It does not bode well for the Bulldogs. They will not make the Tournament.
Here’s the rest of the Never Made The Tourney Club:
THE OTHER SAD SACKS WHO HAVE NEVER MADE THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
America East: Hartford Hawks, Maine Black Bears, New Hampshire Wildcats, UMass Lowell River Hawks
Atlantic Sun: Kennesaw State Owls, Lipscomb Bisons, NJIT Highlanders, South Carolina Upstate Spartans, Stetson Hatters (GOAT NAME THOUGH)
Big Sky: North Dakota Fighting Hawks, Sacramento State Hornets
Big South: Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, High Point Panthers, Longwood Lancers, Presbyterian Blue Hose
Big Ten: Northwestern Wildcats (sobs uncontrollably)
Big West: UC Davis Aggies, UC Riverside Highlanders
CAA: William & Mary Tribe, Elon Phoenix
Horizon League: Northern Kentucky Norse, Youngstown State Penguins
MAAC: Quinnipiac Bobcats
MEAC: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, Savannah State Tigers, Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks
Northeast Conference: Bryant Bulldogs, St. Francis (NY) Terriers, Sacred Heart Pioneers
Ohio Valley Conference: Jacksonville State Gamecocks, SIU-Edwardsville Cougars, Tennessee-Martin SkyHawks
Patriot League: Army Black Knights
SoCon: The Citadel Bulldogs
Southland Conference: Abilene Christian Wildcats, Central Arkansas Bears, Incarnate Word Cardinals
SWAC: Grambling Tigers
Summit: Denver Pioneers, IPFW Mastodons, Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, South Dakota Coyotes, Western Illinois Leathernecks
WAC: Chicago State Cougars, Grand Canyon Antelopes, Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, Utah Valley Wolverines, UMKC Kangaroos
TEAMS WITH THE BEST CHANCE TO ESCAPE THIS HELL
The obvious one is Northwestern, who I believe will make the tournament even if they lose their next three games (please feel free to @ me). They are, obviously, the only team on this list on the bubble. Moving on from there, we have a small handful of teams who have a decent shot to make The Dance through winning their conference tournament.
It wouldn’t be the biggest shock in history if fellow Founding Member William & Mary made a run. Sure they finished 5th in the CAA and are about 80 KenPom slots below top seeded UNC-Wilmington, but the Tribe handed UNC-W a biblical smackdown in Williamsburg to the tune of 96-78. Elon is in a similar spot, seeded 4th in the CAA and having split the season series with UNC-Wilmington.
Only one NMTC member earned the top slot in their conference, the South Dakota Coyotes, who went 12-4 in the Summit League. The Summit League also is a jumbled mess that had the sixth fewest amount of “blowout” conference games (according to KenPom) in the country, so honestly, who knows what will happen there. A potential roadblock to the Coyotes is fellow NMTC member Nebraska-Omaha, who locked up the 3 seed and play the 11th fastest tempo in the nation.
Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun has the 2-seed and could pose a serious challenge to Dunk City Florida Gulf Coast.
The UT-Martin SkyHawks won their division of the Ohio Valley Conference, but will be considered massive underdogs if they play top-seeded Belmont, who reside a cool 125 KenPom ranks higher than UT-Martin. This is March though.
Selection Sunday is 13 days away. So throughout the next 13 days, as sir Rodger used to do, we'll track the progress of our fellow Never Made The Tourney Club members to see which, if any, will leave us and the rest of our comrades behind. So follow along!
However, there are a number of teams that have officially failed to make it to their conference tournaments. This list will expand throughout the week as the regular season finishes up.
St. Francis (NY)
Also, UMass Lowell, Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian, and Grand Canyon will not be eligible for the NCAA Tournament as they transition into D1. Savannah State is ineligible due to low APR scores.
Better luck next year, y'all!
THAT’S RIGHT Y’ALL THE CLUB IS ALREADY POPPIN WITH SOME HOT A-SUN ACTION.
6 PM CST (ESPN3): (1) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles vs (8) Stetson Hatters (6% chance to win via KenPom)
MAD HATTER SZN LET’S GET IT. Reminder that BYU beat Gonzaga with just a 1% chance, so why not?
6 PM CST (ESPN3): (4) USC Upstate Spartans (68% chance to win) vs (5) Kennesaw State Owls (32% chance to win)
NMTC on NMTC violence! It is a crime when this happens I hate it so much.
7 PM CST (ESPN3): (2) Lipscomb Bisons (85% chance to win) vs (7) NJIT Highlanders (15% chance to win)
Year. Of. The. Buffalo.