INDIANAPOLIS -- We pause to repect the accomplishments of Utah State, Richmond and Xavier. Heck, even Gonzaga. And even though we don't draw the line between power conferences and "none of the above" the same way as the people on TV, there were some other schools that don't play in the Premier League of American-Style Collegiate Football (PLASCF) that made it past the Selection Committee too. But the fact remains that all of these teams lost their last game.
Here, Hoops Nation, are your champions. A majority of them won the "marathon" of the regular season. Some didn't. But all survived a March test in miniature, a series of one-and-done games where a loss meant long nights of cold sweat, mentally organizing lists of positive accomplishments, and the real possibility of being sent to a March tournament without office pools. But these teams, pictured below, are ready to do life-or-death battle this week, because they recognize the challenge, and have risen to it.
For most of these teams, the happy moments pictured here will be the last of their kind. They will find their dreams shredded by superior teams. For some of them, this is only the beginning. But all of them are champions, and that's the word that's going on the banners in their home gyms. Here they all are, pictured alongside diagrams and maps of the paths they took to arrive in the Tournament, the bridges between their dreams and their NCAA reality. America East