It's a tie game. The ball finds its way into the hands of the player who's supposed to have the ball. His shot goes up, and what happens next is a matter of interpretation.
Our eyes tell us this depends on the moxie of the person. If they're clutch, this shot has a better chance of going in. If they're not, it doesn't.
The numbers say there's no such thing as "the hot hand," there's no such thing as clutch. If a player hits 35 percent of his threes, he'll hit this shot 35 out of 100 times. Our interpretations of how good he is in any particular scenario are foolish. Shooting is a repetitive action based on how good we are at flinging a thing into another thing, and if we're good at it, we're good at it. If we're not, we're not.
I think there's something in between these two. Numbers are right, because numbers are always right. But there's something -- something -- that determines how our sports happen. Something we can't control. Something that looks at all the goods and evils and the merits and demerits of the action about to take place, and weighs them, and decides. Sports are spectacular, and they wouldn't be so fascinating if there wasn't some higher power making sure the most insane things happen, but only rarely enough so that we appreciate their insanity.
I'll call this higher power Basketball St. Peter. It stands, watches your shot, and mid-flight, looks upon its merits and decides whether it should go in the hoop.
Coincidentally, there's a team called St. Peter's -- the Peacocks. We talked about them yesterday. They have a player named Desi Washington, a junior transfer from Delaware State. Washington, a 6'2 junior from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is not a particularly great shooter. He hit 37 percent from deep as a sophomore -- pretty solid, to be honest -- but this past year, he shot 33.1 percent from deep. That's decidedly mediocre.
St. Peter's drew the Fairfield Stags in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. It was the third time they played Fairfield this season.
In the first game, at Fairfield, 33.1 percent three-point shooter Desi Washington hit a game-winning three, giving the Peacocks a 56-55 win:
In the second game, at St. Peter's, 33.1 three-point shooter Desi Washington hit a game-winning three, giving the Peacocks a 63-62 win.
You'd think this would alerted Fairfield. You'd think that if there was a clutch situation in their third meeting, they'd know: don't let Desi Washington within 40 miles of the ball. We even kinda joked about it yesterday.
In the third game, Thursday night, in the first round of the MAAC Tournament, 33.1 three-point shooter Desi Washington hit a game-winning three, giving the Peacocks a 65-62 win in overtime.
The odds of this are so incredibly low. In the MAAC, every team plays every other team twice, but in some leagues, that's not true. And you don't play the majority of teams in your conference in a league tournament. The odds of playing one team close and winning three times are very slim. Equally slim are the odds of a 33.1 percent shooter going 3-for-3 from three: Statistically speaking, there's a 3.62 percent chance of that happening. It's possible -- probable -- that this has never happened before, and there's no way we can look it up.
Perhaps Washington has a clutch gene. Perhaps in big moments, he's a better basketball player.
Perhaps this was luck. Perhaps if Washington took 97 more threes, he would hit only 30 of them, whereas if he had gone 0-for-3 in these situations, he'd have gone 33-97 in his next 97 shots.
Washington himself had this to say:
We're not religious, so we won't credit God. We turn to Basketball St. Peter, hovering above the hoop, making sure only the fascinating shots get past the Pearly Gates to hit nylon.
In other news, sports are really impractical, stupid, and kinda beautiful. More teams should be called the Peacocks.
Yo, March has not had a disappointing day thus far.
In the 7-10 game, Loyola (Chicago) led by as much as 11 before Bradley took their first lead of the second half with 37 seconds to play. They'd trade leads one more time, and after Bradley went up 72-71, Milton Doyle brought it back the length of the floor and did this:
Doyle scored the final nine points for the Ramblers, sending Bradley and their creepy mascot home. Arch Madness, y'all.
In the other game, Evansville won and confused us.
Evansville’s team name is "The Purple Aces." Why are these their jerseys? pic.twitter.com/5rGvT7CKZX— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) March 7, 2014
When reached for comment, Drake said "ohhhhhh girrrrrrl / why'd Evansville have to beat me in the MVC Tournament girrrrrrrrrrrrl / Arch Maaaaaaaaadnessssssssssss"
Atlantic Sun Tournament
Two real thrillers here. ETSU played FGCU tight, and then, Dunk City:
That's Brett Comer sparking a 7-2 run that would give the Eagles a 69-64 win.
In the other semifinal, Mercer and USC-Upstate went to two OT's before the Bears won. It'll be Mercer and FGCU for a trip to the tourney -- just like last year.
It probably won't matter, but it's neat to see the last-place team in a league get a W, and Loyola Marymount topped Portland 69-64 in the 7-10 game. What a great day for Loyolas!
Santa Clara blew out Pacific in the 8-9, meaning Michael Olowokandi is going to have to sell an organ to pay off his debt to Steve Nash.
Two comfortable, chalky wins: Morehead State romped over Tennessee Tech, and Eastern Kentucky beat Southeast Missouri State, so they'll face off against Belmont and Murray State, respectively.
Oh, besides the MAACtion up there? Well, after going 3-17 in conference, Niagara won over Marist behind THIRTY EIGHT POINTS from Antoine Mason. Even more incredible because he took just 19 shots and missed both threes he attempted (dude draws fouls.) One more game and some bad luck for Doug McDermott in the postseason and he could end up with the NCAA scoring title. Rider beat Monmouth in the other game, so the BRONCS are still rollin'.
Onions! Consumption guide
We're really starting to get into the thick of things, here. Games from six leagues today, including two new ones, starting at 11 a.m. As always, we start our guide with the leagues that are closest to a tournament bid, then in general level of importance/watchability.
OVC Tournament (Games on ESPNU)
No. 4 Morehead State Golden Eagles vs. No. 1 Belmont Bruins, 7:30 p.m.: We tried to get you acquainted with rebounding machine Chad Posthumus yesterday, but your time being acquainted with him might be over: Belmont is the best team in the OVC. When you're the No. 1 team in the country in two-point percentage and No. 14 team in the country in three-point percentage, you're damn good offensively. And since the tournament is in Nashville, this is practically a home game for the Bruins. Posthumus will likely die another death.
No. 3 Eastern Kentucky Colonels vs. No. 2 Murray State Racers, 9:30 p.m.: Murray State had a two-game lead on the Colonels for the No. 2 seed, but Kenpom actually gives EKU the higher ranking. But Murray State got to sit yesterday while EKU had to ball. Heads up: there is nobody named "Sanders" on EKU. Or "Speed" on Murray State.
Ivy League (not a tournament, but)
Harvard Crimson vs. Yale Bulldogs, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN: Just a heads up that the first auto-bid could be decided tonight if Harvard beats Yale in New Haven. What, you'd like to read an awesome longform about the job Tommy Amaker has done at Harvard? You're in luck! We have one! If the Crimson lose tonight -- which is a strong possibility, Yale is responsible for Harvard's only loss in conference play -- Harvard plays third-place Brown tomorrow while Yale plays seventh-place Dartmouth. A one-game playoff is still possible here.
MVC Tournament (Games on ESPN3)
Arch Madness is now in the quarters, and now the big boy steps into the picture.
No. 1 Wichita State Shockers vs. No. 9 Evansville Purple Aces, 1:05 p.m.: Can Evansville break Wichita State's run to history? Noooooooooooooooooooope.
No. 4 Missouri State Bears vs. No. 5 Illinois State Redbirds, 3:35 p.m.: Best I could do for neat facts here: a) One of the games between these two teams went to overtime b) Kenpom's best guess as to the defensive fingerprint of these two teams is "inconclusive."
No. 2 Indiana State Sycamores vs. No. 10 Loyola (Chicago) Ramblers 7:05 p.m.: Normally we'd say something about how great Indiana State is and how you should watch Jake Odum, but the Sycamores dropped their last three of the regular season. We're a tad concerned. Loyola still shouldn't bug them, though.
No. 3 Northern Iowa Panthers vs. No. 6 Southern Illinois Salukis, 9:35 p.m. There's a Saluki that comes to the dog park I go to. Those things are weird as hell. Not quite as weird as hell as SIU's season, though: their coach went on a rant about his players being mama's boys and maybe the size of his penis, and then the team got stuck in a snow drift and had to sleep on the bus. They're handling it in stride: Keep an eye out for 6'5 senior Desmar Jackson for SIU, who will have to do practically everything to knock off the Panthers.
Horizon League Tournament (Games on ESPN3)
On account of the stupid bracket, the Horizon League is currently in its quasi-quarterfinals -- six teams remain, Cleveland State and Green Bay still won't play until next round.
No. 6 Oakland Golden Grizzlies vs. No. 3 Wright State Raiders, 7 p.m.: Every three Oakland's Travis Bader hits pushes him further into the Division-I record books, as does every foul he draws on an unsuspecting guy guarding the inbounds pass with less than a second left, I suppose. Wright State is very solid defensively, with the No. 6 TO rate in the nation, but Oakland doesn't turn the ball over a lot on account of the offense is primarily Travis Bader shooting threes.
No. 5 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers vs. No. 4 Valparaiso Crusaders, 9 p.m.: Valpo's Lavonte Dority torched Milwaukee in both of the regular season matchups, with 27 and 19 points, game highs in each.The 6'1 senior from Chicago can score points.
Big South Tournament (games on ESPN3)
Quarterfinals of the league whose screen we hijacked.
1N High Point Panthers vs. 4S Winthrop Eagles, 12 p.m.: Wait, I really have to do these stupid letters and numbers before every game? Really? Ummm, High Point has John Brown, who is the best player in the conference, and they've never made the NCAA Tournament. Neat!
2S UNC Asheville Bulldogs vs. 3N Radford Highlanders, 2 p.m.: Which of these teams had a better conference record? I can't and won't tell you! I can tell you that Radford is the Highlanders, and there can only be one, and we've just placed a bet on them to win the national championship.
1S Coastal Carolina Chanticleers vs. 5S Charleston Southern Bulldogs, 6 p.m.: Chanticleers in the house! /airhorn /airhorn /airhorn These are home games for the 'Cleers, so they've got a distinct advantage.
2N VMI Keydets vs. 3S Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs: If you've never seen the Keydets play, it's a vision: Digger Baucum's strategy is to have his team sprint up the court and jack threes, which is especially funny because they aren't very good at shooting threes -- 31.5 percent as a team, No. 299 in the country. But they do have the nation's No. 2 tempo, and hit 100 points seven times this year. One of those was the matchup between these two, which was a QUAD OVERTIME affair. QUAD OVERTIME!!!!!!!!!!!!
SoCon Tournament (Games on ESPN3)
A new league! But we're just trimming fat today. But hey: daytime basketball.
No. 9 Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. No. 8 Samford Bulldogs, 11 a.m. Appy boasts the No. 347 offense in the nation. Samford the No. 340 defense. AN OBJECT THAT CAN'T MOVE VS. A FORCE THAT CAN'T STOP ANYTHING.
No. 10 Furman Paladins vs. No. 7 Georgia Southern Panthers, 1:30 p.m.: Each team has a clear-cut leading scorer, and they'll go head to head: 6'2 junior Jelani Hewitt averages 20.0 points for Georgia Southern, while 6'0 sophomore Stephen Croone is at 19.3 for the Paladins. I love saying "Paladins".
No. 11 The Citadel Bulldogs vs. No. 6 UNC-Greensboro Spartans, 4 p.m.: By all accounts, The Citadel is one of the worst teams in the country: Our Never-Made-The-Tourney Founders Club bro won just four of its first 29 games. Three of those wins were against non-DI teams, and the fourth was against Presbyterian, the 348th team out of 351 on Kenpom.
However, they're on a ROLL, beating Samford and Georgia Southern in their last two games of the regular season. CAN THEY KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?@!12238907
CAA Tournament (Game -- single -- on CAA.TV)
We'd be more excited about a new league getting into play, but all we have is the 8-9 matchup today. Nice precursor, bros.
No. 9 UNC-Wilmington Seahawks vs. No. 8 Hofstra Pride, 7 p.m.: Still reading? Well, we're very PRIDE of you. Wait. We're sorry: Words stopped working. Just go watch basketball. And not this one.