America may be surprised by a little school from a President Clinton’s home state or from a small South Carolina town. Whichever one wins on Tuesday may be in line for the upset of the year when they line up against Duke on Thursday.
Just kidding; these poor kids are going to get slaughtered by Coach K and company. That’s no reason for the teams playing in the NFL Draft’s equivalent of Mr. Irrelevant (except its Team Irrelevance) to get a little press. After all, these kids had to do something right to get invited to the Big Dance when there are traditional basketball powerhouses like UCLA, Indiana, Connecticut, Arizona, and last year’s champion North Carolina.
One has to wonder a little just why there is talk about expanding the tournament to other teams when the likes of these two are in. The Golden Lions from Pine Bluff (Arkansas) lost their first eleven games, do not have a dominant threat, and had the worst turnover margin in their conference. After losing approximately one-third of their games they did rally and make a valiant comeback to win the SWAC with a 17-15 record.
The Eagles from Winthrop started a bit better going 5-9 on their way to finishing 19-13. Conference winners (Big South) like the Golden Lions, Winthrop appears to have the slightly better pedigree than Pine Bluff due mostly to the fact that they were able to rally after losing 3 of 4 prior to the conference tournament and knock off the top two teams on the way to winning the Big South for the tenth time.
For all intents and purposes, Winthrop will easily win the game on Tuesday against Pine Bluff. The Golden Lions have no real threat offensively and give the ball up way too often to be a serious contender against a quality team. Only two Lions average more than 10 points a game (neither more than 11). When the going gets tough, a team needs a go to man and there is not a Lion to count on in the bunch.
If the 65th team is generally pretty irrelevant than why bother expanding the tournament? The answer to that is simple- money. People love their college teams and will watch whenever they play, but especially if they are apart of something like the March Madness Tournament and getting national exposure.
More games mean more money, bottom line. What it will also do is dilute the quality of the teams playing in the tournament and essentially cheapen the process. Let’s be smart NCAA and keep it just like it is.
Beer: HopArt IPA from the good people at the Coast Brewing Company in North Charleston, South Carolina- This uniquely labeled beer carries more kick than the offense of either Winthrop or Pine Bluff (7.7%ABV). Made with organic malts (Two-barley, Munich, and Caramel 20), the sweet, malt flavor is second to a hop character that makes you want to come back for more.