Lipscomb’s biggest March Madness moment of my short career came on the first of the month against Jacksonville in the conference tournament.
The Dolphins were the third seed of eight. We had the chance to end the regular season with the third seed but lost badly to Kennesaw and fell to sixth.
In the Atlantic Sun Conference, the better seed hosts each game. So the team (without me, of course) went to Jacksonville, JC dropped 35, and we just flat-out won.
I guess it was Madness. Stetson also got in on the madness, upsetting NJIT 82-67 on the Highlanders’ home court. That set the stage for Lipscomb to host the semifinal right here in Allen!
As the seventh seed, Stetson wasn’t under much scrutiny until this point. But then everyone realized Stetson, despite being 4-10 in conference play, could beat anyone on the right night.
(In fact, the Hatters murdered us on our home floor. It was an emotional locker room, especially around the seniors–J.J. Butler, Talbott Denny, Dylan Greene, Charles Smith and David Wishon. I was going to write a lot more about this but decided to respect the privacy of these teammates).
The other problem with Stetson was the fact that the Hatters were even in the tournament at all. Due to poor APR scores, they suspended themselves from going to the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think anyone thought it was even a big deal, because they didn’t seem to have a chance at the beginning of the year.
After Stetson ended our season, it advanced to the conference championship to play Florida Gulf Coast. This is where it got really weird. Since Stetson couldn’t play in the NCAAs, Gulf Coast would earn the A-Sun’s automatic bid, as the runner-up, right…?
For some reason, the A-Sun has a bylaw or something that says the regular-season conference champ receives the bid if the tournament champion forfeits it.
So the North Florida Fish Eagles (or whatever Ospreys are) were set to take Stetson’s bid if the Hatters could knock off Gulf Coast, despite the Ospreys losing to Gulf Coast in the semifinals on the other side.
So why were we even playing the tournament?
Luckily, Zach Johnson ate Divine Myles’ lunch at the rim in overtime, and the A-Sun was spared the embarrassment of a meaningless conference tournament, and we didn’t all have to watch North Florida get murdered in the first round by some 1 seed.
What do you think? Was it unfair that Stetson got to play in the A-Sun Tournament?