PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- As promised, we're going to crown our ARRRGH contest winner today and give out a free stuffed Bally. We were looking for the best mid-major ARRRGH moment, the worst instance of thwarted victory, the most crushing realization that the big guys have won again and that "Hoosiers" moments are all too rare and precious.
We had a lot of great entries, but Pierce from N.C. (the winningest U.S. state in Mid-Majority contest history) won it with a UNC Wilmington 2003 tale that hit all the right notes: snide nicknames for opposing players and teams, vivid detail, and -- most importantly -- the sense of devastation that occurs when a mid-major season goes from triumphant to "over" in just a few seconds.
The most disheartening mid-major defeat in NCAA history took place on March 21, 2003 at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn. The 11-seeded UNC-Wilmington Seahawks were pitted against the defending national champion, 6-seeded Maryland Terrapins. The Seahawks sank two free throws to take a 73-72 lead with just several ticks remaining. Dubya did an outstanding job in preventing the ball from going to Steve "I'm-better-than-I-look" Blake, and instead the Twerps inbounded to Drew Nicholas. I remember sittingâ€¦ scratch thatâ€¦ standing with my brother saying a few "Hail Marys". As Nicholas drove down the court, we embraced, as it appeared as though there would be no open looks. Nicholas got forced into a corner and threw up a desperation three off his back foot. As the ball floated through the air, we prematurely began our victory celebration. Swoosh! Improbable. Unexplicable. Devastating. "This can't be happening." Over 10 minutes later, I was still in the fetal position on my living room floor. I'm not sure I ate or slept that night. I love March Madness.
-- Pierce G.
And on the last weekend before the two-day Christmas break, there was a gigantic frustrating ARRRGH moment in Hoops Nation, followed by a few which were quite wonderful indeed. Davidson.
The Wildcats' nonconference slate is now complete after a trip to N.C. State on Friday, a 66-65
loss. Davidson played from behind nearly the whole game, but poked through at 42 seconds left when Stephen Curry hit his 27th, 28th and 29th points with a 3-pointer that gave DC a 65-64 lead. An offensive rebound on the other end led to two free throws, and Curry's long 3 attempt at the buzzer caromed off the rim. That's an ARRRGH moment if ever there was one.
You can point to Davidson's 4-6 record, which contains an 0-4 mark against the ACC and Pac-10, as a disappointment... and you could look at the perfect 2-0 SoCon record as an indication that this is still the best team in this league. But none of that matters in late December. What does matter is that Davidson has faced elite competition and now knows more about itself than 90 percent of the teams out there. I'd rather be Bob McKillop right now than any of those coaches with a double-digit collection of soft wins who have no idea of their team's capabilities. American.
In the old days, American was an anonymous Patriot League team, known for Kermit Washington
and experiments with international players. Still hasn't made the NCAA's, despite a few honorable mentions as league runner-ups.
So you could definitely say that Friday's 67-59
win at Maryland was the biggest win in school history, after years of trudging out to College Park every holiday season to take its preordained whipping. The Terrapins are an honorary mid this year, having lost to Ohio and VCU, but that doesn't diminish the Eagles' victory one bit. American took control of the game at halftime and never let go, and beat an ACC team despite shooting 39 percent (Maryland helped, shooting 36). Friend of the site Marco
sent in this picture of the scoreboard, as proof it really happened. Rider.
Having a bonafide NBA prospect on your roster is nice, but depth is nicer. Six-eleven former MMBOW Jason Thompson
had 12 points and seven rebounds against Rutgers on Friday, but if not for the supporting cast, the Broncs wouldn't have been able to overcome their in-state Big East opponents in their first meeting in seven years. The Broncs were awful from the free throw line (7-for-18), but balanced scoring carried the day in a 61-57
win. Appalachian State.
A 25-win NIT team from last year lost a few key pieces to graduation, but the returning mix and new players were too interesting to short-sell. But an early conference loss to defending champs Davidson undermined the squad's confidence, and it was evident that the drop had severe humbling effects that lasted far beyond the final buzzer. A three-game losing streak ensued, followed by a too-close win over non-D1 Virginia Wise -- that "we're not good" feeling began to set in, which is out of place at a school that just won its third straight football championship.
Over the weekend, the Mountaineers' psychological tailspin was reversed. In Little Rock on Saturday, App-State got back to doing what last year's version did best: beat SEC teams on neutral courts. Shooting a ridiculous 67 percent from the floor, the Mountaineers prevailed over a nine-win Arkansas team 74-67
. Donte Minter had 20 points and nine rebounds, which was the total App-State rebounding margin over its power-conference opponent.
We might as well take this opportunity to alert the rest of the SoCon to App-State's freshman shooter and future star, a young 6-0 guard named Donald Sims
. We saw him at the Middle Tennessee tournament at the start of the year, and he was bringing the ball up and hitting ridiculous flappy-handed shots all over the place. We thought it was cute at the time, and he did go into a prolonged slump soon thereafter. But with 24 points on 7-for-9 shooting on Saturday (including four 3's), he, ummm, you know, might be pretty good. He's hit 29 of his 55 shots so far in his college career. Oakland.
We've already given the Golden Grizzlies the yellow arrow
for their fashion sense, but they get the green for their surprising 68-62
win Saturday night over our old school. At the Palace of Auburn Hills, a venue chosen to give Detroit natives Malik Hairston and Tajuan Porter a home game, Oakland won its first-ever contest against an opponent ranked in the AP Popularity Contest since its Division I life began a decade ago.
Three Griz ended in double figures, and 6-5 junior Derick Nelson
had 22 points -- 11 coming off free throws. Oakland only turned the ball over 13.7 percent of the time, held the Pac-10 Ducks even on the glass, and scored on more than half its possessions. Generally a good design for an upset.
Speaking of design (and forced segues), this was also a matchup of two of Nike's most willing lab rats. Because the U of O is basically the birthplace of the company (Phil Knight used to make shoes with a waffle iron and sell them out of his trunk at Hayward Field), the Ducks will wear any new fabric or test out any 22nd Century uniform design Nike throws at them. Oakland just got on the bus this summer with its Rollerball jerseys from the future. So this game played out in the year 3402, when the mid-majors have taken over and ref-bots are embedded in basketballs. At least Oregon didn't wear lightning yellow. Upsets in general.
We talked about the percentage of upsets going from 13 to 11 to 9 in the past three years, but it's Christmas and we're going to focus on the positive. Seven mid-major over major upsets over the weekend, bringing our 2007-08 total to 111.
We didn't get our 111th last year until December 30, and there were 103
last Christmas Day, so we're still a week ahead of things.
What's an upset? So glad you just joined us. Any win by a BracketBuster conference, lower-RPI league or independent over the Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC, Big XII, ACC or the two money leagues (C-USA and MWC) counts. Atlantic 14 wins do to, but only if they're over the Big Six.
So we count and celebrate McNeese State's 63-57
win over Southern Miss (way to go, Coach Simmons), the Cowboys' second win over the Golden Eagles in the last three tries. Aforementioned UNC Wilmington didn't get a chance to avenge its loss to Maryland, but it did beat a Conference U$A school in East Carolina on Saturday, 71-67.
UNCW has had the better of that rivalry in recent years on the court, but ECU has three times the athletic budget, and football. Elsewhere in Conference U$A topplings, Wichita State beat UAB 61-52
and Southland member Lamar beat Rice at home, 66-49
. The holidays.
We love the holiday season here at TMM Mobile HQ. It offers the chance to spend a few days at home with The Official Wife and our two cats Bill and Murray. Instead of hours of watching game tape, we'll be locked on the Lifetime Movie Network with a seemingly endless marathon of low-budget made-for-TV Christmas movies that try to make Vancouver, B.C. look like New York City. It's a tradition.
But if you get a laptop for Christmas and need a website to go to in order to test it out, try midmajority.com. We'll be posting some of the Travelogues from the past three weeks on time delay, and will be up to Chapter 10 by the time the break's over. There won't be a Boubacar on Wednesday (Boxing Day) on account of the light schedule, but Game! Of! The! Night! and The State Of The Other 22 will return mid-week, and we'll be back on a regular posting schedule by Thursday.
Most importantly, have a wonderful holiday, cherish your family and friends, and above all drive safe. Missouri Valley Conference season starts at the end of the week, and you want to be alive for that.#boubacar
onclick=simpletogglediv('boubacar')>Do you have a nomination for Thursday's Boubacar?