It is almost the end of the first week in March and the ice cold grips of winter are thawing (well, here in the mountains of NC anyways). My school, Western Carolina University, is in the Southern Conference and we aren't considered a powerhouse by any means. In fact, because the university is not a power 6 conference (such as the ACC, Big East, SEC, etc.), we have to win the conference tournament just to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Southern Conference tournament starts tomorrow and runs into the weekend. Hopefully, this weekend lives up to last season in terms of success and excitement.
Last year, we headed into the Southern Conference Tournament seeded 3rd and with an overall 14-17 record and 8-10 record in the conference. We proceeded to win 3 games in 3 days and reached the championship game. We faced off against a 24-7 Davidson team (16-2 conference record) who was heavily favored to win. We held our own and in fact had a 12 point advantage one point in the first half. However, tired legs from having to play 4 games in 3 days and Davidson's superior talent lead them to a lead as much as 13 in the second half. Our school fought back to force two overtimes and in fact had a chance to take the lead or win. We were down 93-91 and had a great look from 3 point territory to win. The shot went short and our miracle run in the conference tournament was over.
While it was disappointing we weren't able to upset Davidson and make the NCAA tournament, the magic of March was at work. We had gotten to the conference championship game and nearly pulled out a potentially historic upset. Despite the loss, we had exceeded any expectations. Our small school of about 10,000 students tucked in the mountains of NC, had gotten its fill of March excitement and national exposure. In fact, we had reached #4 most trending worldwide topic on twitter during the game.
Despite the loss, we had achieved international exposure and were part of the magical month of college basketball. Even though our fame was short lived, Western Carolina's run was magical and Catamount Nation could be proud. Like Cinderella, our magic slipper worked wonders....even if it was just for one night.