I CAN'T BE THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS IF THE TROOPS WANTED TO THEY COULD PUT TOGETHER A FOOTBALL TEAM AND DOMINATE THE NFL.
— YOUNG CONSERVATIVES (@YOUNGCONS) FEBRUARY 3, 2014
Good morning, everyone.
If you missed the action last night, you are waking up in a world that is, well, exactly what you expected it to be when you went to sleep. The two big underdogs lost, the heavy favorite won, the sun set, and the sun rose. And on and on and on and on. The day had its storylines, but lacked entertainment. All of these games were bad, with the possible exception of Longwood-Charleston Southern, and even that is a little bit of a stretch. Let’s start with the only undefeated team in the NCAA, THE GOSH DARN AMERICAN FREAKING ARMY [STRIPS OFF SHIRT REVEALING A GIANT BALD EAGLE TEMPORARY TATTOO, SHOOTS OFF FIREWORKS].
Yes, the Army Black Knights, who are not actually undefeated (they entered last night’s game at 12-18), played the American University Eagles in the Patriot League opening round, which is enough of a patriotic buzzword salad to fit into last night’s speech, folks. PoliticsPoliticsPolitics. American is very bad and, despite battling the Black Knights to a functional draw in the first half, was outlasted and outmatched by Army. The Black Knights never trailed, shot over 50 percent from the field, and unleashed an artillery barrage from the outside, knocking down 10 triples. Jordan Fox hit five of them en route to piling up 23 points on just 11 field goal attempts.
Still, it’s hard to feel confident about Army’s next game in the Patriot League. Top-seeded Bucknell has the Knights in their sights, and Army has serious turnover problems that are about to get exposed. KenPom has the line set at Bucknell -15 and gives the Bison a 91% chance to win. Sounds about right. But that’s Thursday. Moving on.
Longwood earns the prize for “Most Overperforming Clubmember” of the night. Longwood is one of the five worst teams in the country, but they gave Charleston Southern a scare. The Lancers were carried by Isaiah Walton and Khris Lane, who both poured in 24 points.
Despite trailing the entire second half and most of the first half, Longwood certainly had a chance to win this game. In the final seconds, Charleston Southern missed some big free throws and gave Longwood the ball back down just 3. But the Lancers’ three glanced off the rim and that sealed the deal. A good effort from Longwood, but it wasn’t meant to be. We’ll try again next year.
The Presbyterian Blue Hose earn our last slot, only because we can’t put them any lower. The first half of their game against Campbell was an affront to not just basketball, but to common human decency. They were outscored 45-17. Not great! They turned it over 14 times. That’s a problem! Twice as many possessions of theirs ended in them giving the ball to the other team instead of putting it in the hoop. That’s not a winning move!
The best thing to happen in the first half was the Campbell student section chanting about the Presbyterian coach removing his jacket, or more accurately, the way the good folks at Sunny 103.5 FM announced it. One broadcaster remarked that the crowd was "starting a jacket off" chant, which is not a great combination of syllables to say into a live microphone. Me and both of the other people listening were appalled.
All in all, it led to the Blue Hose notching a cool 0.5 points per possession and them getting run out of the gym to a team that lost to the aforementioned Longwood Lancers (No. 347 in the KenPom rankings). ‘Twas a truly disgusting display that I couldn’t even hate watch. Presbyterian earned their membership renewal this year. I just don’t want to be responsible for watching them play another basketball game ever again.
LAST NIGHT’S MVP:
JORDAN FOX (ARMY): 23 points, 1 assist, 3 rebounds, 5-of-9 from three
Fox had a great night shooting the ball from three. His 23 points were enough to knock out the Eagles and earn him the MVP for last night.
6:30 PM CST (ESPN3): (4) New Hampshire Wildcats vs (5) MD Baltimore City Retrievers (69% chance to win via KenPom) (nice)
In what is likely to be the only good game of the slate, the New Hampshire Wildcats will take on UMBC. New Hampshire is basically Northwestern Lite. Case in point:
New Hampshire is in its 56th season of Division I basketball and has never made the NCAA tournament. They haven’t even made a conference title game the 34 previous appearances. This might be the best team the Wildcats have fielded and they have just a 1-in-20 chance of an NCAA tournament bid.
Change a few numbers around and you have the 2016-17 Northwestern Wildcats. New Hampshire is not as good as Albany, Vermont or Stony Brook, but to even get to that point the Wildcats must defeat the Retrievers. Thankfully, the game is at home, and they are favored, but the Wildcats will have to stop UMBC’s Jarius Lyle and score a boatload of points to win.
6:30 PM CST (ESPN3): (3) Albany Great Danes vs (6) Hartford Hawks (7% chance to win)
6 PM CST (ESPN3): (1) Vermont Catamounts vs (8) Maine Black Bears (2% chance to win)
These two games will probably be snooze-fests unless Hartford repeats some of last year’s magic. The Hawks stunned a decent Albany team in the conference tournament last year (fine by us, as it enabled Stony Brook to escape this hell) and the Great Danes are most definitely looking for revenge. Punches were nearly thrown after their previous encounter included a bench clearing, and this game should have some fireworks, even if Hartford is likely going to lose.
As for Maine, the Black Bears are facing Vermont, who haven’t lost in 2017 and are probably one of the 50 best teams in the country. Maine, coming in at 7-24 and 334th in KenPom’s rankings, are going to get torched.
Teams that will be back next year:
St. Francis (NY)
There’s always next year!