We out here covering teams that have never made the NCAA Tournament.
First, we must tackle the disaster that took place on Tuesday night. Nebraska-Omaha had a chance to escape the and were favored to defeat North Dakota State. Everything went badly. The Mavericks were sluggish in the first half and could not mount a comeback in the second. For the second time in three years, Nebraska-Omaha has made it to the final hurdle, only to trip and fall. The NMTC had three teams in the Summit League semifinals, but could not prevail.
I blame everything on this article:
Meanwhile, we mourned the end of Savannah State’s time in Division I, which ended with an ignominious 71-67 loss to the worst team on Kenpom in the entire country heading into the game. The Tigers shot a cool 8-for-35 from three and were never really in the game. You know, against Delaware State. The worst team in the country in shooting percentage and adjusted offense outlasted our guys. That’s...certainly something (insert Curb Your Enthusiasm music here).
Savannah State spent 19 seasons in Division I. In 2005, they went 0-28. They set the NCAA record for fewest points in a half (four, against Kansas State in 2009). The only real shot they had to make the NCAA Tournament came in 2012, when they went 14-2 and had the No. 1 seed in MEAC. They lost by 13 to Hampton.
Historically, I think Savannah State might be the saddest member of this club not named Northwestern (and Northwestern has relinquished its title forever after making it in 2017). Head coach Horace Broadnax has been there for 13 years. The whole experiment began incredibly poorly with Savannah State as an independent. Then, after they joined a conference, they blew their chances with actually good rosters. In 2016, after a full 10 years of playing at a significantly slower than average tempo, Broadnax decided said “screw it” and went full Moreyball, playing ridiculously fast while only jacking threes. That made everything extremely entertaining, but it didn’t work.
But we will always have this:
Farewell, Savannah State. You will not be forgotten. You guys better win the SIAC and come back to us someday.
And then there was Hartford. Oh, Hartford. The Hawks came back after going down 50-24 to UMBC and took it to double overtime, only to lose. The two overtimes were some of the worst college basketball played this century. Hartford’s point guard fouled out with two minutes left in double-OT and that was the end of it.
Life is not fair.
The second act of the NMTC starts today. It is a much more difficult time, with only the WAC, Big Sky, Big West, Southland, and SWAC still possessing members. The most important team in this second week will be Abilene Christian, the No. 2 seed in the Southland. Grambling State picked up a huge 59-52 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff, which means the Tigers are still alive to face No. 1 seed Prairie View A&M on Friday.
Today and Tomorrow’s Games
(9) Sacramento State vs. (8) Northern Arizona - happening now, 25-16 Sacramento
Sacramento State is the most obscure NMTC team. They’re in the most obscure mid-major conference and have done pretty much nothing in recent years. Maybe this year can change that.
(6) Seattle vs. (3) Grand Canyon - 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, ESPN+ [70% Grand Canyon]
The Lopes are the Prince Who Was Promised of this column, and frankly, they must win this game for the sake of respectability. The Lopes lost to Seattle at the end of the regular season and have no momentum whatsoever. Sigh.
(7) UMKC vs. (2) Utah Valley - 9 p.m. on Thursday, ESPN+ [Utah Valley 80%]
But the Wolverines are back! Utah Valley has won seven straight and are the new “most likely team to challenge New Mexico State” in the conference. Catch the fever!
(8) Chicago State vs. (1) New Mexico State - 3 p.m. on Thursday, ESPN+ [1%]
You know, congratulations to the Cougz for still having a Division I basketball team. There was some doubt that the university would exist due to the stupid plans of the city of Chicago and Bruce Rauner. But they are alive, they are here, and they are going to lose to New Mexico State.
(5) Cal State Bakersfield vs. (4) UT-Rio Grande Valley - 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, ESPN+ [59%]
You know, if the Vaqueros can get past Cal State Bakersfield, they have played New Mexico State close twice this year (2-point loss at home, 8-point loss on the road). But first, they need to defeat a solid Bakersfield squad that has done damage to the NMTC since making it out in 2016.
(8) UC Riverside vs. (1) UC Irvine - 9 p.m. Thursday, ESPN3 [10%]
UC Irvine is a top 60 Kenpom team. UC Riverside is not a top 300 Kenpom team.
still thinking about Gardner-Webb dancing for the first time ever pic.twitter.com/Zl1hQ8zZ3l— Nebraska Omaha Appreciator Tristan Jung (@tristanjung0) March 13, 2019
Coming back next year...
Cal Baptist (transitioning to D1)
Incarnate Word (will miss the Southland Tournament)
Maryland Eastern Shore
North Alabama (transitioning to D1)
St. Francis (NY)
Stetson (missed ASUN Tournament)
William and Mary
We’ve reached the point where the “coming back next year” list is essentially the Class of 2019 list.
THE NEVER MADE THE TOURNAMENT CLUB CLASS OF 2019
Big Sky: Sacramento State Hornets
Big West: UC Riverside Highlanders
Horizon League: Youngstown State Penguins
MAAC: Quinnipiac Bobcats
Ohio Valley Conference: SIU-Edwardsville Cougars, Tennessee-Martin SkyHawks
Patriot League: Army Black Knights
SoCon: The Citadel Bulldogs
SWAC: Grambling Tigers (BACK AT IT)