You used to be much more…muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.
– The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland
We’re off and running with the Never Made The Tournament Club. The eyes of the nation were on the Atlantic Sun, where 5 different club members were set to do battle. Already, we have our first victims. Three members of the Never Made the Tourney Club will have to wait until next year. Wave goodbye to the Hatters, Highlanders and Spartans. Sisyphus watches the rock tumble down the hill once more.
The South Carolina Upstate Spartans and the Kennesaw State Owls played unquestionably the game of the night. While you, the common rube, the child, the ignoramus, were watching Virginia and UNC chuck rocks at each other and pretending that Tony Bennett-coached games where teams combine to score 90 points are good, I, the book reader, the literary connoisseur who quotes Lewis Carroll, the brain genius, the good boy, was watching some primo A-Sun action.
Neither of these teams are serious threats to the North Florida-Lipscomb-Florida Gulf Coast hegemony of the Atlantic Sun, but that didn’t stop this game from being good as hell. It was a back and forth game with a ton of lead changes and a bevy of great performances. For the Owls, they got 18 big points from three-point marksman Nick Masterson, and 18 points by Kendrick Ray just in the second half en route to a game high 24.
USC-Upstate meanwhile had 3 different players in double figures, including a double-double from my very Large Son and burly boy, Michael Buchanan, who notched 14 and 10, pictured here killing a man.
Oh, how I loathe my Large Son.
The game had it all. Shot making? Check. Terrible officiating? Check, check. AN ANNOUNCER WHO IS ACTUALLY NATE TAPHORN??? OH YOU KNOW WE GOT IT.
Anyway, the game went down to the wire. Kennesaw State was up two with 15 seconds left and clanked a clutch free throw. Then USC-Upstate decided to not grab the rebound and had to foul again. Then Kennesaw State clanked TWO clutch free throws. Then, with 3 seconds left, USC-Upstate threw it in to the Burly Boy Buchanan for a post-up. He chucked a line drive that was still going up when it hit the front of the rim, and the Spartans lost. A tough day for Large Sons everywhere.
As for the other games, let me first just point out that the plural of bison is actually just bison, and yet Lipscomb has decided that it’s actually Bisons. It’s similar to how Rutger has decided to call itself “Rutgers.” As you may know, it’s the Year of the Buffalo, and the Lipscomb Bisons represented their mascot well by smashing the NJIT Highlanders 97-57. For the most likely team in the Club to escape the Atlantic Sun, it was a clinical performance, led by 30 points from Garrison Matthews. Lipscomb will face North Florida on Thursday, who survived a thrilling contest against Jacksonville in the 3/6 game.
Meanwhile, the Stetson Hatters, the team with the best nickname in the Club, flamed out in their quest for glory. Florida Gulf Coast (Dunk City) is legitimately decent, and Stetson got completely outmatched, losing 87-57. Turns out playing defense against teams that pass the ball well is important! FGCU played 15 players and 14 of them scored points. It was, as they say, a dumpster fire for the Hatters. May they haberdash in peace this March.
LAST NIGHT’S MVP:
KENDRICK RAY (KENNESAW STATE): 24 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
It’s gotta be Kendrick Ray. His 18 second half points were absolutely crucial for the Kennesaw State Owls win on the road against USC-Upstate. He was hitting from the outside, he got to the stripe, and was very clearly the most dangerous player on the floor.
ALSO CONSIDERED: Garrison Matthews (Lipscomb): 30 points, 5 assists, 11/15 shooting.
6 PM CST (CampusInsiders.com): (9) American Eagles vs (8) Army Black Knights (77% chance to win via KenPom)
TRUE RESPECTING TROOP HOURS. Despite being separated by just one game in the Patriot League standings, KenPom sees the Black Knights as solid favorites. I can’t be the only one who thinks that, if they wanted to, the Army could put together a basketball team that would DOMINATE the NCAA.
6 PM CST (Sunny 103.5 FM): (10) Presbyterian Blue Hose (11% chance to win) vs (7) Campbell Fighting Camels
Easily the most ridiculous mascot pairing of the day. Neat thing about the Big South: it has 2 of the worst 4 teams in college basketball! Presbyterian is the bad one of those two!
6 PM CST (WVHL 92.9 FM): (9) Longwood Lancers (13% chance to win) vs (8) Charleston Southern Buccaneers
It’s Longwood, the name that doesn’t make any of us laugh because we are real, bona fide, mature Medill grads who utilize Latin phrases for no reason, id examplum, ad infinitum. Longwood is 348th in KenPom, and they have little chance of winning this game on the road at Charleston Southern. But who cares? Go Lancers!
Teams that will be back next year:
St. Francis (NY)
There’s always next year!