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Never Made The Tourney Club, 3/5: MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (AND GAMECOCKS)

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The Gamecocks are in the Tournament, the Penguins are in dreamland.

NHL: Stadium Series-Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s anything I learned from childhood, penguins love to dance, preferably to Pitbull or Stevie Wonder.

I was informed this movie is a documentary.

The Youngstown State Penguins picked up the upset of the day by defeating the Oakland Golden Grizzlies 81-80. It was fantastic. The basketball gods have clearly given certain NMTC members the ability to make unbelievable buzzer-beating layups to keep their Tournament hopes alive.

There’s a lot to digest here. First of all, Oakland is a good basketball team, probably even a very good basketball team. Why every one of the five people on the floor found it prescient to simultaneously rush at a guy 30 feet from the basket is a head-scratcher. BUT WHO CARES? WE LIVE IN THE ANTARCTIC NOW BABY, IT’S PENGUIN SZN. GET OUT YOUR SMALL FISH AND GET MORGAN FREEMAN TO DO SOME NARRATION.

But the Penguins only had the most dramatic win of the day. The most important, surely, must be the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, who clinched their FIRST-EVER NCAA Tournament bid with a 66-55 win over UT-Martin. The game was never very close, and Jacksonville State prevented the UT-Martin Skyhawks from getting their own first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. So close, yet so very far. You didn’t expect a hawk with aviator goggles to best a FIST-FIGHTING CHICKEN, did you? This poultry ain’t faulty, brah. WE DANCIN’.

There are so many birds in this article. The Elon Phoenix will stay in the Club for one more year. William and Mary, one of the Founders, live to fight another day. This game is better treated as a statistical exercise than as an actual basketball game.

We all know that basketball is becoming more and more reliant on the outside shot. Depending on your personal feelings, that could be good or bad. If you are a Big Baby Boy, you might consider this to be a harbinger of the end times. If you have matured past the age of eight, you acknowledge that the three-pointer is actually extremely good. Elon and William and Mary played this game for you.

Of the 121 shots that were put up, 66 of them were threes. Neither team was efficient, the Phoenix hitting 32% and the Tribe hitting 31%, but that’s unimportant. Both teams had the green light from the outside, which made this game, while perhaps bad in quality, interesting in the way it was played out. William and Mary pulled away late to win 71-66.

While you were watching Duke play North Carolina in a regular season game (you amateurs, you children, you coastal elites living in your liberal bubbles), the writers of this column were watching No. 1 seed in the Summit League South Dakota survive a scary test against 8th-seeded Western Illinois. The two teams were dead even at halftime and dead even again in regulation. South Dakota thought it’d won it when Matt Mooney hit a three with 32 seconds left, but then C.J. Duff tied it up with a three 20 seconds later.

Unfortunately, Western Illinois scored precisely one (1) point in overtime, and South Dakota advanced with a 78-69 win. We shall see if South Dakota can fend off South Dakota State or Denver, who feature prominently in tomorrow’s NMTC’s games.

Yesterday’s MVP: Cameron Morse (Youngstown State)

34 points (12/28 FGs, 5/11 3FGs), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal

Is there anything Cameron Morse didn’t do for the Penguins last night? He scored 34 points, provided a brilliant, game-winning assist, and pulled down seven boards. He’s a true Penguin, all the way.

TODAY’S GAMES

Colonial

1:00 p.m. (4) William and Mary Tribe (27% to win) vs. (1) UNC-Wilmington Seahawks

Can we get another Founding Member in the Tournament (assuming NU gets in, of course)? William and Mary take on the best team in the conference at 1 p.m. Be there, or be square.

Summit

6:00 p.m. (ESPN3): (4) South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. (5) Denver Pioneers (45% chance to win)

When the pioneers first trekked across this nation, they never expected to make the NCAA Tournament. They probably didn’t expect to make it very far without getting typhoid (or stealing land) either, a fact that I learned from the classic video game Oregon Trail. Denver will hope to improve the Pioneers’ legacy.

I’m being told that Denver has died of tuberculosis. Shame.

They will have to beat South Dakota State though, the perennial contender from this conference on a down year. The Jackrabbits beat Denver by 22 last time out, but that was in February. This is March.

8:30 p.m. (ESPN3): (3) Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks vs. (6) IPFW Mastodons (60% chance to win)

Once again, we have NMTC on NMTC crime in the Summit League. You hate to see it. The Mastodons are behind the Penguins and the Stetson Hatters for best nickname award, but they have a decent case. Both of these teams are notable for having upset Big Ten teams on the road, as Nebraska-Omaha beat Iowa and Fort Wayne defeated Indiana. Both games were hilarious. The Big Ten is really bad.

Jon Rothstein certainly called the two games “the epitome of brutality”, even though the definition of epitome states that it can only be one thing. Don’t define vocabulary to men with Twitter accounts.

Horizon League:

6:30 p.m. (ESPN3): (4) Northern Kentucky Norse (52% to win) vs. (5) Wright State Raiders

It’s time to get...medieval? With the Penguins taking out Oakland and Milwaukee (the worst team in the conference) taking out Valparaiso, the door is open for the Norse and the Raiders. Is it as open as the richer communities of Northern Europe that were attacked by the Norse and Saxon raiders during the Middle Ages? Uh, no.

Northern Kentucky is a slight underdog to Wright State despite the KenPom edge (in 917 AD, Bishop Kenneth Pomeroy was calculating advanced statistical predictions for tournaments involving knights, in case you didn’t know, before he was attacked by a Viking raider, who proceeded to burn all of Bishop Kenneth’s parchments and call him a giant nerd boy). The games aren’t played on parchment though, and the Norse have a really good shot at getting out of this Club forever. If they make it, expect me to be reenacting this:

Teams that have escaped forever:

JACKSONVILLE STATE GAMECOCKS, HIT THE MUSIC AGAIN

Teams that will be back next year:

UT-Martin

Western Illinois

Elon

Gardner-Webb

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!