I want Monmouth. That’s the kind of school and team the NCAA Tournament is made for. But will the Hawks get the chance come Sunday night?
The MAAC regular-season champs lost the conference tournament final Monday in Albany to Iona and now sits in limbo despite a 27-7 record (19-4 in MAAC games). It’s the conundrum of every mid-major conference champ that doesn’t win its tournament.
Things are particularly troublesome for conference champs this year. Eleven top seeds have lost in their tournaments. Yes, 11! (One was Joe Mihalich-led Hofstra). Only Wichita State seems to be an NCAA lock.
Monmouth can’t do any more. The Hawks led the nation with 13 road wins and played 23 of their 34 games away from home. They won at UCLA and Georgetown. On a neutral court in Florida, they beat Notre Dame and USC and lost to Dayton by three. Losing at Canisius doesn’t help, but nobody wins every league game.
Ten years ago, I covered a similar team stuck waiting. Remember George Mason? Memo to selection panel: Give Monmouth the same chance.