As the Selection Show nears, I can’t help but to examine teams that had a breakout year, however it’s likely that they won’t be dancing.
Team: Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
Best Win(s): Temple Owls (X2)
Bad Loss(es): Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, SEOS Savage Storm (Division II)
Note: The Golden Hurricanes had a great year, however they lack quality wins. Their non-conference schedule is just terrible and losing to Oral Roberts is bad, but a loss to a Division II school is just bizarre. Expect the Golden Hurricanes to be much better next year, as they have no seniors on the rosters.
Team: George Washington Colonials
Best Win(s): Wichita St. Shockers, Dayton Flyers
Bad Loss(es): Duquesne Dukes
Note: The Colonials were looking destined heading into conference play, as they enjoyed a relatively successful non-conference schedule, notably defeating the top ranked Wichita St. Shockers. They however went 10-8 in a tough Atlantic 10, with the only quality win over the Dayton Flyers. If they could of managed to beat the Davidson Wildcats, Rhode Island Rams or VCU Rams once, we would have a case for the Colonials as an at-large bid. The Colonials only have one senior and he’s not even one of their top five scorers, so expect them to be players next year.
Team: UC Davis Aggies
Best Win(s): UCSB Gauchos, UC Irvine Anteaters (2X)
Bad Loss(es): Seattle Redhawks, Idaho Vandals
Note: The Aggies had an exceptional year and looked like they were headed towards their first NCAA tournament. However, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors defeated them in the Big West tournament, ending their only chance to get in the big dance. It’s a tough one for the Aggies too, with leading scorer and senior Corey Hawkins departing.
Team: Old Dominion Monarchs
Best Win(s): VCU Rams, LSU Tigers
Bad Loss(es): UTSA Roadrunners, Middle Tennessee St. Blue Raiders (2X)
Note: The Monarchs put forth one of the better non-conference schedules and did very well, defeating the likes of the VCU Rams, LSU Tigers, Richmond Spiders and Georgia St. Panthers. The knock on the Monarchs would be their bad losses inside conference play, which have them on the outside looking in. I personally love when mid-majors get at-large bids, as they can surprise and create havoc in the NCAA tournament.
Team: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Best Win(s): UTEP Miners (2X)
Bad Loss(es): North Texas Mean Green
Note: The Bulldogs were the best team in a tough Conference USA, however minus beating the UTEP Miners twice, they failed to notch any other quality wins. They had the Temple Owls, North Carolina St. Wolfpack and Syracuse Orange on their non-conference schedule, which if they had won, we’d probably be having a conversion on why they were deserving of an at-large bid.
Team: Green Bay Phoenix
Best Win(s): Valparaiso Crusaders, Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Bad Loss(es): Oakland Golden Grizzlies
Note: The Phoenix enjoyed a successful year, led by two time Horizon player of the year Keifer Sykes, who unfortunately is a senior. However, he helped do some damage this year, impressively defeating the ranked Miami (FL) Hurricanes on the road, as well as beating the Georgia St. Panthers and Valparaiso Crusaders at home. That was the extent of their success though, as they were one half away from representing the Horizon League, but fell to the Crusaders.
Team: Yale Bulldogs
Best Win(s): Harvard Crimson, Connecticut Huskies
Bad Loss(es): Quinnipiac Bobcats, Columbia Lions, Darmouth Big Green
Note: The Bulldogs were one game away from punching their ticket into the NCAA tournament twice, which many teams wish they had the opportunity to do. They however, failed both times.
Team: Central Michigan Chippewas
Best Win(s): Buffalo Bulls (2X)
Bad Loss(es): Bradley Braves, Ball St. Cardinals, Northern Illinois Huskies
Note: The Chippewas managed to put forth a great season, finishing first in the Mid-American conference. They were able to beat the second place Buffalo Bulls twice, but had to face them once more to get into the big dance. The third time proved to be the hardest, as they fell to the Bulls in an exciting game.
Team: Iona Gaels
Bad Loss(es): George Mason Patriots, Saint Peter’s Peacocks
Note: The Gaels are one of the more exciting teams in college basketball, in terms of their ability to score. They can light up a scoreboard on any given night, however playing defense wasn’t their forte. The Gaels won a bunch of games, but have no signature wins. They should make for a competitive NIT team though.
Team: North Carolina Central Eagles
Bad Loss(es): Delaware St. Hornets, East Tennessee St. Buccaneers
Note: The Eagles were a perfect 17-0 in conference play, but failed to get the job done in the MEAC conference tournament. It looked destined, but this is why we call March, Madness.
Team: Murray St. Racers
Best Win(s): Illinois St. Redbirds
Bad Loss(es): Houston Cougars
Note: This is one of the more disappointing teams to write-up, as I was was advocate of their amazing season. They had a winning streak of 25 heading into the final game and one three point shot sealed their fate from the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. I would love to see them in the big dance, as Cameron Payne and the Racers are fun to watch. I’d give them a good shot to dethrone most teams in the tournament, if not give them a run for their money. Here’s hoping that I’m wrong.
Team: Saint Mary’s Gaels
Best Win(s): BYU Cougars
Bad Loss(es): Santa Clara Broncos, Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
Note: The Gaels remain one of the competitors of the West Coast conference, however the talent of the BYU Cougars and Gonzaga Bulldogs have mightily passed them by. This team doesn’t have an Omar Samhan, Patty Mills or Matthew Delladova, but the way they recruit, I’d expect them to find a talent and rise once more.
Team: Sam Houston St. Bearkats
Best Win(s): Eastern Washington Eagles
Bad Loss(es): Texas A&M-CC Islanders
Note: The Bearkats had an awesome season, but the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks were their kryptonite, defeating them all three meetings.