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Never Made the Tournament Club, 3/4: Highlanders are taking over

The NMTC is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Beerbohm Tree Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

NMTC is back for Day 2. Rodger Sherman, now of The Ringer, wrote about all the schools that had never made the tournament on Sippin’ On Purple, the forerunner to the current Northwestern SB Nation blog, Inside NU. This elite group of teams would be dubbed the “Never Made The Tournament Club.” Let’s get to it.

Two truths are told, as happy prologues to the Never Made the Tournament Club—of ASUN theme. I thank you, readers.

Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,
Why hath it given me NJIT’s success,
Commencing in a truth?
I am fan of Sacred Heart
If good, why do I yield as Kennesaw State
Whose horrid final ten minutes doth unfix my screen
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of Garrison Mathews
Big South fears are less than horrible imaginings:
My thought, whose games are yet but fantastical,
Shakes so my single NMTC club that functions is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is
But what is not.

The NJIT Highlanders defeated Florida Gulf Coast 83-78 last night, sending the world into a frenzy of jokes about Scottish people. And thus, we have led off with a reworking of the Scottish play. There’s so much Macbeth in the NJIT Highlanders, a trusted lieutenant of more worthy teams that has bravely offed an old conference foe. But we should hope that, when the hurly-burly’s done, the Highlanders are more Robert the Bruce than Macbeth or William Wallace. All hail the ASUN’s outlaw kings.

The Highlanders beat FGCU in the best way possible. With the Eagles hosting and pumped to defeat a much-downtrodden foe (NJIT had never won a game in the ASUN Tournament before tonight), NJIT was up against it. But ignoring history, the Highlanders stunned the crowd by jumping out to a double-digit lead. FGCU got it back to 38-33 at halftime, but the damage was done. FGCU could not get back into the game, and NJIT’s 32-10 free throw disparity sealed the Eagles’ fate. NJIT’s Diandre Wilson wins NMTC Player of the Day with 26 points on 4-of-7 shooting and 12 made free throws.

That was all she wrote for the first night of the NMTC. North Alabama, already ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, nearly made things interesting with North Florida. Unfortunately, North Alabama’s horrendous offense could not turn the tide. Despite averaging 0.9 points per possession, North Alabama kept it to 76-66, which is not bad for their first try. Kennesaw State covered the 27.5-point spread easily and was even within single-digits for three-quarters of the game, but Lipscomb was not messing around and won 86-71.

But what about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow? Does NJIT have a shot against Lipscomb. Well, that’s another story entirely, but in the meantime, here are some Big South games!

Today’s Schedule

Big South

(6) Charleston Southern vs. (11) USC Upstate (ESPN3) - 7 p.m. EST [8% chance to win on Kenpom]

(8) Hampton vs. (9) Longwood - 7 p.m. EST (ESPN3) [20%]

Alright, time to laugh at Longwood Lancers jokes. Yes, they have a player named Shabooty Phillips. Yes, they are really called the Lancers. No, they have not scored 69 points nor allowed an opponent to score 69 points all year. Not nice. Oh wait, Kenpom has them scoring 69 points against Hampton tonight. D’oh.

Longwood, the basketball team, has been much better this year than the recent past. After going 7-26 last year, Longwood has improved to 15-16. They are still big underdogs to a supposedly good Hampton team, but you can’t count out the Lancers. USC Upstate is really bad and I’m not expecting much there.

(7) Presbyterian vs. (10) UNC Asheville (ESPN3) 7 p.m EST [93%]

Usually the Big South is reserved for a dumb joke at the Lancers’ and Blue Hose’s expense, but this year the Blue Hose have shown up! After years of futility, the Blue Hose are in the top 200 in Kenpom with a 9-7 conference record. This is coming after one conference win in 2017, and 4 in 2018. You could argue they’ve actually underachieved in conference this year, based on the numbers. What a world. They should crush a confusingly bad UNC Asheville team.


America East: Hartford Hawks, Maine Black Bears, New Hampshire Wildcats, UMass Lowell River Hawks

Atlantic Sun: Kennesaw State Owls, North Alabama Lions (NEW MEMBER!!), NJIT Highlanders, Stetson Hatters (GOAT NAME)

Big Sky: Sacramento State Hornets

Big South: Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs, High Point Panthers, Longwood Lancers, Presbyterian Blue Hose, South Carolina Upstate Spartans,

Big West: UC Riverside Highlanders

CAA: William & Mary Tribe, Elon Phoenix

Horizon League: Youngstown State Penguins

MAAC: Quinnipiac Bobcats

MEAC: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, Savannah State Tigers, Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks

Northeast Conference: Bryant Bulldogs, St. Francis (NY) Terriers, Sacred Heart Pioneers

Ohio Valley Conference: SIU-Edwardsville Cougars, Tennessee-Martin SkyHawks

Patriot League: Army Black Knights

SoCon: The Citadel Bulldogs

Southland Conference: Abilene Christian Wildcats, Central Arkansas Bears, Incarnate Word Cardinals

SWAC: Grambling Tigers (BACK AT IT)

Summit: Denver Pioneers, IPFW Mastodons, Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, South Dakota Coyotes, Western Illinois Leathernecks

WAC: California Baptist Lancers (NEW MEMBER!!) Chicago State Cougars, Grand Canyon Antelopes, Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, Utah Valley Wolverines, UMKC Kangaroos

Coming back next year...

Cal Baptist (transitioning to D1)
Incarnate Word (will miss the Southland Tournament)
Kennesaw State
North Alabama (transitioning to D1)
Stetson (missed ASUN Tournament)