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Never Made The Tourney Club, 3/3: THE TIME HAS COME

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Northwestern’s misery may soon be over, but what about everyone else’s?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Our long nightmare is finally over. The light at the end of the tunnel was actually Dererk Pardon making a layup as time expired. The greatest and most agonizing Founding Member of the Never Made The Tourney Club may have finally gotten it done.

This is not a great movie, but this scene is particularly apt for recent events.

Northwestern has, finally, escaped the prison. Or have they? Here’s a list of a few things that could prevent Northwestern from making it:

  1. The Selection Committee is extraordinarily dumb and Northwestern loses out. The Big Ten is really awful this year, but this is still highly unlikely.
  2. A meteor hits the planet.
  3. The NCAA decides to disband?
  4. Northwestern suddenly has all its money stolen when Bane robs the stock exchange.
  5. Everybody gets mono? Too soon?

With Northwestern essentially in, we now focus on the other prisoners. They are still down there. They need our help. Seven NMTC members got knocked out over the past two days. While we are probably going to walk away like Batman after this year, we must finish our solemn task until the very last moment. Into the breach!

Patriot League - The troops are going home...but Bill Carmody?

Founding Member Army faced the best team in the Patriot League and lost. It was a disaster. The Black Knights went down 36-18 by halftime and never recovered, despite acquitting themselves well in the second half. Bucknell avoided repeating its catastrophically bad 2OT loss to Holy Cross last season. The only non-Northwestern Founder left is William & Mary (Correction: and CITADEL).

Speaking of Holy Cross, Bill Carmody and Ed DeChellis met again, and despite the two teams combining for just 31 points in the first half, the game was somewhat interesting (in a morbid, exhibitionist way). DeChellis’ Navy team won (of course) and Holy Cross will not be returning the NCAA Tournament. Thus ends any hope of bringing back Inside Holy Cross for 2017.

America East - The Wildcats Escape (redux)

On the same night Dererk Pardon brought Welsh-Ryan across the veil, the America East Tournament began. Because this is a long update, we must quickly skip past Maine’s 86-41 catastrophe against Vermont. That was ugly.

Hartford didn’t get much closer, losing 100-71 to Albany, but I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Albany’s David Nichols breaking the Great Danes’ all-time scoring record with 40 points in his first game since the death of his sister after a long struggle with leukemia. It was a staggering performance. He drained 8 threes and went 14-of-22 from the field. Hartford didn’t even come close to repeating its upset win over Albany from last season, and maybe that was for the best this time around.

New Hampshire continued the trend of Wildcats winning games by cruising to a 74-65 win over UMBC. New Hampshire led the whole way and picked up 20 points apiece from Tanner Leissner and Jaleen Smith. The last remaining NMTC member in the America East faces Vermont next. Vermont beat the Wildcats twice in the regular season, but anything could happen.

Atlantic Sun - The Bison(s) have been wiped out

I am very, very angry that Lipscomb lost to North Florida 91-85. The Bisons were at home and were 9.5-point favorites heading into that game, and they blew it. Garrison Mathews had 29 points and they still blew it. It’s no longer the Year of the Buffalo, and Lipscomb was a giant NMTC tease this year. It wasn’t even a very good game—North Florida just outplayed the Bisons. Argh.

Kennesaw State ran into the Dunk City buzzsaw and lost 74-62. It was a mess. Kennesaw State was only down 3 at halftime, and then it just collapsed under a hail of good ball movement. The NMTC had a lot of carnage this week. All the karma went into that one Taphorn pass, apparently.

Big South - Runnin’ Bulldogs stomping on everyone

Gardner-Webb came into its matchup against High Point favored by just 3 points. Gardner-Webb won by 36. The Runnin’ Bulldogs got 21 points and 14 boards from Miles Bowman Jr. en route to the victory. While we hate to see NMTC on NMTC crime, Gardner-Webb has a much better shot at knocking off Winthrop today then High Point did. We’ll take it.

MAAC - Quinnipiac implodes.

Quinnipiac had a three-point lead against Niagara at the beginning of the second half, and then lost by 19. It’s really hard to win basketball games, unfortunately, and Quinnipiac just could not stop the favored Niagara Purple Eagles from scoring. It was bad.

MVP OF THE LAST TWO DAYS

David Nichols, Albany - 40 points, 14-of-22 shooting, 8-of-12 3PT, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 rebound, 0 turnovers

Everyone on NMTC teams played from decent to utterly mediocre. Albany’s David Nichols, to reiterate, dropped 40 in an knockout game one week after his sister passed away. I don’t really care, he’s getting MVP. He was possessed. He had zero turnovers. It was easily one of the best individual performances in a college basketball game this entire season.

TODAY’S GAMES

Ohio Valley Conference:

6:30 CST (ESPNU): (4) Jacksonvile State Gamecocks (19% chance to win via KenPom) vs (1) Belmont Bruins

Oh hell yeah. OH HELLLLLL YEAH. GIMME THAT NATIONWIDE VIEWING AUDIENCE FOR THE NMTC BAYBEE. Jacksonville State, while generally pretty not good, are fresh off a beatdown of Southeast Missouri State. Let’s go, Gamecocks.

9:00 PM CST (ESPNU): (7) Murray State Racers vs (2) UT-Martin SkyHawks (47% chance to win)

Little known fact about SkyHawks, they are much more lethal than their GroundHawk, or even SeaHawk cousins. Murray State will be playing its 3rd game in as many days while the SkyHawks are fresh. Should be a good one.

Southern Conference:

4:00 PM CST (ESPN3): (9) Citadel Bulldogs (60% chance to win) vs (8) Western Carolina

The Citadel is the most fun member of the NMTC. They play the 2nd fastest tempo in the nation, the 10th worst defense, and the 6th most threes per game. They are crack and I am going to watch this.

Horizon League:

7:00 PM CST (ESPN3): (9) Youngstown State Penguins (34% chance to win) vs (8) Cleveland State Vikings

ARE YOU READY FOR THE COLDEST OF THE COLD? THE REALEST OF THE REAL? THE PENGUINS ARE COMING TO YOUR TOWN, CLEVELAND STATE. ARE YOU READY FOR THE RUCKUS? FOR THE FUNK? Probably.

Big South:

7:00 PM CST (ESPN3): (4) Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs (23% chance to win) vs (1) Winthrop Eagles

This one would be a rather large surprise. Winthrop beat Illinois. Who are somehow on the tournament bubble! The Big Ten is good!

[vomits for eternity]

Teams that will be back next year:

Kennesaw State

Lipscomb

High Point

Army

Quinnipiac

Maine

Hartford

Presbyterian

Longwood

Stetson

NJIT

SC Upstate

Abilene Christian

Grand Canyon

SIU Edwardsville

St. Francis (NY)

UMass Lowell

There’s always next year!