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Never Made The Tourney Club 3/9: RETURN OF THE WAC

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All eyes on the WAC as we head into the stretch run of the NMTC.

NCAA Basketball: Chicago State at Notre Dame Joe Raymond-USA TODAY Sports

Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development.

Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893

We the Never Made The Tourney Club chroniclers do not endorse Turner’s retrograde views on American Indians. We do, however, follow his lead and shift our focus of the story of the NMTC to the Western frontier.

The East is old. Decaying. Resolved. We’ve seen virtually all of our club members east of the Mississippi play their part in this year’s play. Their hour is over. The West is the story of the day. The shining glass horror shops in Silicon Valley, the wastelands of the Dakotas, the deserts of the Southwest. These will be our churches through selection Sunday.

First, some housekeeping.

Both club members in action last night lost. The Central Arkansas Bears got nice and scored 69 points but came up short in a 69-77 loss against Sam Houston State. Fun fact about Sam Houston, he had this really neat quote about the North while trying to argue against secession during his time as Texas governor before he was deposed:

They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche.

He might have been actually talking about the Vermont Catamounts, but I digress.

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats got messed up. They lost 90-65 and allowed every one of the North Carolina Central starters to score in double figures. That’s not awesome. They’ll be back in the club for (at least) another year.

Today’s Games:

Big West:

2:00 PM CST (Fox Sports West): (7) Cal Poly Mustangs vs (2) UC Davis Aggies (67% chance to win via KenPom)

CALIFORNIA IS IN THE BUILDING. UC Davis absolutely has a shot to make it out of the club this year. The first test is to get past the pesky Mustangs who beat UC Davis when they played on Cal Poly’s court. My favorite UC Davis stat is that they’re one of the 50 best teams at getting to the line and one of the 50 worst teams at hitting their foul shots. Also their coach has just six letters in his name: Jim Les. Roll damn Aggies.

8:00 PM CST: (8) UC Riverside Highlanders (16% chance to win) vs (1) UC Irvine Anteaters

The Anteaters may have lost their Large Adult Center Mamadou N'Diaye, but that doesn’t mean they’ve taken a step back or gotten smaller (well that much smaller). The Anteaters are still heavy favorites in the Big West and they still have a 7+ footer in senior and All-Name Team selection Ioannis Dimakopoulos, who checks in at 7-foot-2. UC Riverside is a lot worse. It will be an uphill climb for them in this one.

Big Sky

2:00 PM CST: (8) Portland State Vikings vs (1) North Dakota Fighting Hawks (62% chance to win)

WAIT, WE HAVE ANOTHER NMTC MEMBER AND REGULAR SEASON CHAMPION FROM THE DAKOTAS? THIS IS AWESOME! ALL WE NEED IS CHALK AND WE’LL HAVE ANOTHER ESCAPEE! WHAT CAN GO WRONG?

[Mike Daum comes out of the audience with a folding chair and knocks me out cold]

TRUU WAC-TION HOURS

OH HELL YEAH, IT’S THE CONFERENCE THE NMTC CALLS HOME, THE ONE THAT STRETCHES FROM CHICAGO TO TEXAS TO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, IT’S THE FREAKING WAC. All in all, five NMTC members ply their trade here, though one, Grand Canyon, is ineligible as they continue to transition to Division 1. This especially sucks because they are one of the best teams in the WAC.

4:00 PM CST: (5) Seattle Redhawks vs (4) Utah Valley Wolverines (69% chance to win, nice)

Utah Valley is a team that was nonexistent for me as of two days ago. But now, here they are, with a 69 percent change to make the next round of the WAC Tournament. The Wolverines have somehow won three regular season conference titles but have never graced the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines are decent, however, although they appear to stand little chance against New Mexico State and Cal-State Bakersfield, who have this conference on lockdown.

6:30 PM CST: (7) Chicago State Cougars (6% chance to win)vs (2) New Mexico State Aggies

Oh Chicago State, why must you make me so sad. If you recall, Chicago State came to Welsh-Ryan Arena and had a second half lead over Northwestern after hitting a series of crazy shots. It was insanely fun, even though it’s slightly tragic because Chicago State is really bad and the university itself is nearly out of money and students.

The worst team in the conference now faces the best team in the WAC by KenPom adjusted efficiency. This would be a really great time for Chicago State’s second conference win of the year, but it is not going to happen.

9:00 PM CST: (6) UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (28% chance to win) vs (3) UMKC Kangaroos (72% chance to win)

Alright, technically this is NMTC vs NMTC violence, and in those cases, it’s always best to root for the better team. But this is unique.

Dedicated followers will recognize that UT Rio Grande Valley actually has a long, decorated history with Northwestern. You see, the Vaqueros used to be the Texas-Pan American Broncs, a team Northwestern loved to schedule back in the old days. They were Bill Carmody’s version of what Chris Collins does with Mississippi Valley State. And because of that, I love the Vaqueros. I hope they win tonight. I hope they win the whole thing. I hope they bring back the Bronc mascot. I hope they get the world, which they so richly deserve. VAMOS VAQUEROS.

B1G

8:00 PM CST: (6) Northwestern Wildcats (76% chance to win) vs. (14) Rutgers Scarlet Knights

You didn’t think we’d forget did you? Thankfully, you have the entirety of Inside NU to prepare for this game. Steve Pikiell is turning Rutgers around though—I think New York’s Big Ten team could be decent in a few years. That being said, if Northwestern loses, it will be more painful to the eyes than forcing one’s self to wear the same pair of daily contact lenses for 96 hours.

Please don’t lose, Northwestern.

Teams that will be back next year:

Central Arkansas
Sam Houston State
Nebraska-Omaha
South Dakota
Youngstown State (PENGUINSZN)
New Hampshire
IPFW
Denver
William and Mary
UT-Martin
Western Illinois
Elon
Gardner-Webb
Kennesaw State
Lipscomb

High Point
Army
Quinnipiac
Maine
Hartford
Bryant
Sacred Heart
Presbyterian
Longwood
Stetson
NJIT
SC Upstate
Abilene Christian
Grand Canyon
SIU Edwardsville
St. Francis (NY)
UMass Lowell