Tars, Knights suffer losses
The Knights are national championship bound, but it’s not the tournament they’d hoped for before the Conference USA championship started.
After falling to two straight teams in the C-USA Championship, the Knights failed to secure a bid in the NCAA Tournament, which hosts 68 teams this year.
Stinging the Knights even more, three teams they beat in the regular season have gone on to the tournament. One prominent team they beat in the regular season and which went on to have a similar overall record, the University of Florida, is the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Region.
Another team they beat, Princeton, is No. 13 in the East Region. But perhaps the most painful may be the Alabama State team set to play in the first round March 16 at press time. On Nov. 27, the Knights trounced them 84-48 under the lights of the UCF Arena — one of the biggest blowout wins for the Knights all year.
But the Knights attracted enough attention this year to be in the NCAA Top 25 rankings for five straight weeks. In addition to a solid end to the season, they were invited to the College Basketball Invitational tournament, which also began March 16 at press time.
The Knights’ first opponent, St. Bonaventure, a 2,400-student Catholic college in New York, finished 16-14 this season. The Knights and Bonnies played two of the same teams this year — Marshall and the University of Massachusetts. Both times, the Bonnies lost. The Knights shocked U Mass once, and split a pair of games against Marshall.
With a win, the Knights will be bound for the quarterfinals on March 21 against the winner of Miami (Ohio) vs. Rhode Island. The Knights have played neither of those teams this year.
Florida Southern doubled up on vengeance for an early season loss against the Tars, beating them in the first round of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament on March 12.
The Tars had won three straight games to win the Sunshine State Conference Tournament the week earlier.
Even stellar play by Rollins star Nick Wolf wasn’t enough to put the Tars over the top. He led with 29 points in the game, shooting nearly 50 percent overall, adding 10 rebounds and four assists.
Also chipping in some big plays was Matt Robertson, who scored 14 points, grabbed eight boards, four assists, plus a block, a steal and three turnovers.
The Tars finished 25-6 after a stellar season.