Bill & Mary Can Leave the Big Dance Wallflower Club Tonight

Published on 9-Mar-2015 by Alan Adamsson

Basketball - NCAA Mens    NCAA Basketball Daily Update

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Bill & Mary Can Leave the Big Dance Wallflower Club Tonight

It's one of sports' great trivia questions around this time of year.

Name the five original NCAA Division I teams never to make the Big Dance.

Considering the tourney has been around since the 1938-1939 season when the pre-Nike Oregon Ducks and their Tall Firs copped the hardware -- that's why silhouetted evergreens frame the post-Nike Oregon Ducks' court -- those schools share a distinction with which even the most embittered Chicago Cub fan would have to sympathize.

One of them has nobody to blame but its coach. Bobby Knight opted to showcase his 16th-ranked Army team -- including guard Mike Kryzezwski -- in the 1967-68 NIT instead.

Army hoops

To be fair, the NIT was still the NCAA tourney's equal back then, Madison Square Garden was closer to West Point, and John Wooden's UCLA juggernaut -- featuring Lew Alcindor -- was in the Dance's bracket.

But still, Army's in the Forgotten Five, along with Northwestern, St Francis of New York, The Citadel, and the school that has its second shot in two years to shed this albatross: William & Mary.

The question in this season's CAA tourney is, did the Tribe leave it all on the court in the semi-finals? How's this for a deal-sealer with a half-second left in the second overtime:

That's ballsy Daniel Dixon, who made Marcus Thornton's 37-point effort a better memory for the Tribe's main man.

So now, the only hurdle remaining is Northeastern, where hockey reigns supreme. The Huskies haven't made the Dance since 1991, so they'll be a true title-hungry foe.

It's a just championship pairing, too. Both the Huskies and Tribe were part of a four-way tie atop the Colonial Athletic Association's final standings. They split their season series, so it won't be a surprise to see tonight's decider go down to a buzzer beater, as well.

Underscoring that notion, Bovada has the Tribe as a 1½-point favorite. This could be the night fortune smiles and history is made at a school that's been around for 322 years.

No doubt the celebration would be epic.