I WAS GONNA WRITE A POST ABOUT MERCER. I SWEAR. LOOK, HERE'S THE EMAIL I SENT MY BOSSES:
BUT INSTEAD, I WROTE ABOUT NDSU, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN, NC CENTRAL, AND NEW MEXICO STATE.
I DECIDED THE CHANCES WERE TOO SLIM THAT KENPOM NO. 96 MERCER WOULD BEAT KENPOM NO. 6 DUKE. HE SAID JUST 11 PERCENT. THAT'S NOT A VERY GOOD CHANCE.
BUT ALAS, THAT 11 PERCENT WAS THE RIGHT PERCENT. THE 14TH-SEEDED BEARS ENDED UP BEATING DUKE, AND WE ARE GIDDY BECAUSE WE USE THE INTERNET AND DUKE LOSING IS ALL WE WANT IN LIFE.
Let us celebrate Mercer by learning who they are.
Shockingly, the stuff that allowed Mercer to get the W vs. Duke wasn't very Mercer-esque, looking at their fingerprint for the year.
Mercer has the A-Sun Player of the Year Langston Hall, which is probably a building on most campuses. Hall averaged 14.7 points and 5.6 assists per game this year for the Bears. Hall is No. 35 in the nation in assist rate, which is pretty solid. He was held to just five shot attempts, although he did turn it into 11 points.
And what generally helps the Bears click is the three-ball: They shot 38.9 on the year, 24th in the nation, and also hold opponents to just 30.5 percent beyond the arc, 21st best in the nation. They only took 13 threes on the game, while allowing Duke to hit 15 threes on 37 attempts.
Weirdly, Duke just couldn't hit shots inside against Mercer. They didn't get blocked once, but shot just 7-for-25 from two. Their 6'10 forward Daniel Coursey, who was second on the team with 9.9 points per game and led them with 6.6 boards, stepped up, shooting 7-for-12 from the field en route to 17 points. Duke's interior play was bad, and Coursey was great, and that's how a strange upset happened.
WHY TO LOVE THEM
AND THEIR COACH IS JUST A GOOD OL' BOY YELLIN WOOOOOOOO
HOW TO BANDWAGON
Conference: Atlantic Sun! You might remember this silly low-major from something called FLORIDA GULF COAST last year. Mercer was actually the No. 1 seed last year in the Atlantic Sun tournament, but lost to FGCU in the conference finals at home. They had to sit at home and watch as the Eagles became the Internet's Most Favorite Thing Ever.
This year, the tables were turned. Mercer met top-seeded FGCU and won the Atlantic Sun tournament final. The Bears were allowed to dance.
That said, Mercer is headed for the SoCon next year. As the WWE learned: NEVER LET THE CHAMPION LEAVE THE PROMOTION WITH THE TITLE. The A-Sun has now lost two champions in three years, after Belmont ditched out for the OVC after winning the 2012 title.
Where: Macon, Ga. It's like 80 miles southeast of Atlanta and 100,000 people live there. LET'S DO IT, WIKI:
Macon was the birthplace or hometown musicians Emmett Miller, The Allman Brothers Band, Randy Crawford, Mark Heard, Lucille Hegamin, Otis Redding, Little Richard, Mike Mills and Bill Berry of R.E.M., as well as more recent names like violinist Robert McDuffie and country artist Jason Aldean. The rapper Young Jeezy was discovered in Macon. September Hase, an alternative rock band, was discovered in Macon.
If you don't like Otis Redding OR Young Jeezy, we just can't get along. I think one is considerably better though.
Mascot: Toby, the Bear. It's kinda boring, because it's a bear. Incidentally, it is the only bear that lost in our mascot death bracket.
Hoops history: This is the third tournament bid for the Bears, but their first since 1985. Their first two trips ended in losses, this one ... uh ... didn't. Their lone NBA player in school history is Sam Mitchell, so, pretty dece, actually!
The school has definitely seen a revival under Bob Hoffman. He'd previously coached at his alma matter, Oklahoma Baptist, then had jobs with Texas-Pan American and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League before Mercer's president, also an Oklahoma Baptist grad, hired him away. They've gotten progressively better each year: Two years ago, they won the CIT. Last year, they made the NIT after winning the A-Sun regular-season title. And this year, well ... this year.
Peeps who went there: It basically comes down to one person: NANCY GRACE. Please hashtag all Mercer-related things with, like, #SpermNCAATournamentUpset or #TrashBagDukeBaby.