The Unvictorious

Posted by jstevrtc on January 13th, 2011

After Florida State’s victory over Duke last night, there are but four undefeated teams left in D-I college basketball: San Diego State, Kansas, Syracuse, and the heir apparent to the #1 ranking on Monday, Ohio State. You’ve probably heard about that today just as much as you’ve heard the analysis about how hard it is for a team to go undefeated any more (no kidding). Soon, we’ll make our predictions on when the remaining four undefeateds will lose. Because they will.

Kyle Randall and UNCG Have Made It Just Past the Midpoint of Their Schedule Without a Win

But what about the other side — the unvictorious? It’s been three seasons since a school has gone through the entirety of their schedule without a single win, an ignominy achieved by the 2007-08 New Jersey Tech (NJIT) Highlanders, God love ‘em, and their 0-29 run as an independent. Last year, two teams came close, when Marist and Bryant both went 1-29. Marist rung in 2010 by beating Manhattan, 72-66, on January 2nd. Bryant, however, had everyone holding their breath late into the season until, with only four games left, they finally snagged that first victory on February 18th — a 53-51 squeaker at Wagner.

This season, there are still two teams without a victory. UNC-Greensboro is 0-15 with 14 regular season games left on their schedule. And even though they may have one of the best nicknames in the game — the Gentlemen — Centenary is 0-17 with 13 games remaining.

The future is a tad brighter for UNCG than it is for Centenary, it would seem. The oracle that is KenPom projects the Spartans to finish at 4-25 and has them winning their first game on January 20th against Georgia Southern,  a game that also represents their best chance at a victory (75%). Unfortunately for the Gentlemen, it’s pretty dire. KenPom’s projection relegates them to the dustbin of history, a perfectly unvictorious 0-30, with their best chance for a win coming on February 24th against Western Illinois — a mere 15% chance, at that. We should note that Centenary, the smallest D-I school in the country,  is playing with lame duck status. They’ll move back down to Division III next season.

Good luck, fellas, and we’ll be watching. We hope you both get at least one before season’s end!

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Great West Conference: Another Play-In Game on the Horizon

Posted by rtmsf on September 27th, 2008

Several sources today are announcing the formation of the 32d Division 1 league, the Great West Conference, which will begin organized basketball operations in the 2009-10 season.  You may recall that the GWC already exists in football as a transitional league between D2 and D1-AA (or whatever they’re calling it now).  The basketball counterparts at most of these schools have largely been relegated to the dreaded Independent status, which forces those teams to schedule games anytime, anywhere, anyplace, in order to complete a full schedule.  One of these teams, the much-maligned New Jersey Tech, made infamy last year with an 0-29 season, earning the lowest Sagarin rating (46.91) of the past several years.

Frankly, despite the league’s spin on the matter, reading down a list of these schools sounds a little like something out of the American Chiropractic Colleges Association manual.  Houston Baptist, Texas-Pan American, New Jersey Tech, Utah Valley, North AND South Dakota. Not to mention the fact that with two Texas schools, a Utah school, two Dakota schools and a freakin NEW JERSEY school, this new league is all over the place (Cal Poly, UC-Davis and Southern Utah, each of whom play in the football version of the GWC, are not expected to leave their basketball conferences – the Big West x2 and Summit, respectively).

In fact, looking at the map below, this ”Great West” conference is 2,194 miles from east to west, 1,639 miles from north to south, and if you decided to drive the circuit between all six schools, it would take you through 22 states, 6,540 miles and approximately 41 Waffle Houses.  Oh, and only one team is even in a “western” time zone, with UVU in MST.

So what’s really going on here?  Of course, money.  The GWC is attempting to become the 32d league that gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and while that may be a decade away (fulfilling all the requirements would take until 2020), Kyle Whelliston thinks that’s a possibility.

NCAA men’s basketball rules require conferences to pass a three-step eligibility check for auto-bid qualification: at least seven fully fledged Div. I members, seven that have been Div. I for at least eight years (known as “core members”), and six core members who have been league mates for five years. The current membership wouldn’t meet all of those guidelines until the year 2020.

You can rest assured that if the GWC eventually gets an automatic bid that the NCAA won’t take away one of the current 34 at-large bids, so the natural response would probably be to add another play-in game to the scorecard.  That would allow for two more teams to “make” the dance, and it would balance the brackets on both sides.  While this makes economic sense from an NCAA Tournament perspective, it’ll end up minimizing the achievements of the MEAC, SWAC and other league champions that have gotten accustomed to playing in the “real thing” on Thursday like everyone else.

And what happens to everyone’s bracket if one of these teams actually beats a #1 seed one of these days?

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