Welcome back to the Never Made the Tournament Club, where we track the teams that have never made the NCAA Tournament.
It was a day of staggering highs and disappointing lows for the NMTC, as the three Big South teams in action went 1-2. Presbyterian crushed perennial Big South darling UNC Asheville 106-59, a smashing result for Dustin Kerns’ team, which Greg Mitchell profiled for this very site yesterday. UNC Asheville went 21-13 last year, winning the Big South regular season title and making the NIT. Presbyterian went 11-21. Asheville is in rebuilding mode, but that beatdown signaled the Blue Hose are back in style. And if you’re wondering where the Blue Hose nickname comes from, here’s the official Presbyterian website
The nickname “Blue Hose” began in the early 1900’s, when sportswriters referred to the Presbyterian College athletic teams as the “Blue Stockings” because of the blue socks they wore. Writers used the terms “stockings” and “hose” interchangeably over the years. They often shortened “stockings” to “hose” in newspaper headlines.
Next up, we have the Longwood Lancers, who valiantly fought against the Hampton Pirates, but lost 77-71. Hampton went 30-of-32 from the line, sealing the game for the Pirates down the stretch. USC Upstate played a decent first half against Charleston Southern, but couldn’t keep it up.
Of the eight conference tournament games, six of them feature an NMTC member. This is the best night of unfettered hope you’ll get all season. Assuming all games are independent, there is a 0.17 percent chance that every NMTC member wins tonight. Never tell me the odds.
(6) LIU Brooklyn at (3) Sacred Heart (NEC Front Row) - 6 p.m. EST [69% chance to win on Kenpom]
(5) St. Francis (NY) at (4) Robert Morris - 7 p.m. EST (NEC Front Row) [36%]
(8) Bryant at (1) St. Francis (PA) - 7 p.m. EST (NEC Front Row) [20%]
Clearly, NEC Front Row is a must-have for NMTC fans tonight. Sacred Heart is one of the best candidates to escape this year, and the Pioneers stand a good chance of beating LIU Brooklyn on their home floor. The real must-have, though, are the St. Francis Terriers, who have been one of the surprises of the NEC season. The Terriers are one of the Founding Fathers: one of four teams who have missed every NCAA Tournament since it was created.
(6) Youngstown State at (3) Oakland - 7 p.m. EST (ESPN+) [24%]
The people are clamoring for more Penguins!
I’m going to commit the cardinal sin of blogging and admit I have no clue what I’m talking about in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament. All I know is the Penguins made a run to the conference semifinals in 2017 before falling to fellow NMTC member Northern Kentucky. Let’s make the magic happen again, Penguins.
(8) SIU Edwardsville vs. (5) Morehead State (ESPN+) - 7:30 p.m EST [28%]
(7) UT-Martin vs. (6) Eastern Illinois (ESPN+) - 9:30 p.m. EST [52%]
Alright, admittedly the Ohio Valley doesn’t look very promising with Murray State, Belmont, Jacksonville State and Austin Peay all significantly better than any of these teams. But the Skyhawks should be favored against a bad Eastern Illinois team that has lost five straight, and SIUE has a puncher’s chance against Morehead State.
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)
Coming back next year...
Cal Baptist (transitioning to D1)
Incarnate Word (will miss the Southland Tournament)
North Alabama (transitioning to D1)
Stetson (missed ASUN Tournament)