The Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball team could not accomplish the same thing it did last year in the NCAA Men’s Division II Tournament.
That is, to go to the No. 1 team in the country’s home gym and knock off the best team in the land in front of a hostile crowd.
The Norse did the unthinkable last year when they upset then-No. 1 Findlay.
Grand Valley State, at 35-0, plays of all people, Findlay, for the regional title.
The only shame is that the Norse, well, are done for the year. Had this been the regular season, this would have looked like a “good” loss on the Norse’s tournament r’eacute;sum’eacute;.
But if you’re going to get bounced in the NCAA, you might as well do it to the North Carolina equivalent of Division II, and not the Portland States of Division II.
A loss is a loss, but it doesn’t look nearly as bad when you lose to a team that could conceivably win the whole tournament.
The bottom line though is that this is March. Every game is a must win, whether you’re playing Grand Valley State or North Dakota State. “Survive and Advance” is the motto we coin for basketball this month.
Although it sounds as though we are living like animals, it’s true. Bring your “A” game, whether you are a 16 seed playing a one seed or an eight seed playing a nine seed. Otherwise – go home. There are no second go arounds this time of year.
To be fair, the Norse had an excellent year. Things could have been much worse.
The Norse had a collection of balanced scorers, led by a former West Virginia walk-on Dennis Gagai, who lit up Regents Hall and eventually “cooled off” to shoot 45 percent from three-point range.
Harrison Morton, a senior from Lexington, Ky., came on strong at the end of the year to lead the team in scoring.
If it wasn’t for him, the Norse could have been on the outside looking in when it came to tournament time. Unfortunately, he was quiet in what turned out to be the last game of his career.
Again, a loss is a loss. But a four-point loss to Grand Valley State this year sounds better than a 24-point ripping from last year.
Nevertheless, a loss is a loss. The Norse tried and came up short.
Sometimes upsets happen, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the unthinkable happens and sometimes the favorite wins.
Unfortunately, the higher seed won this time.