University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon, the first openly gay Division I men's basketball player, is having a solid year for the Minutemen, who are getting hot at crunch time by winning four straight games against fellow Atlantic 10 opponents.
Gordon, a junior, has started all 23 games for UMass, averaging 29 minutes and 10 points a game, while having a .411 field goal percentage. On the year, Gordon has collected 106 rebounds, 64 assists, 12 blocks and a team-high 35 steals.
Though UMass has been playing good basketball recently, their shot at making the NCAA Tournament is marginal. The 7-3 conference record for the Minutemen place them fifth out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10, which is not exactly a powerhouse conference for basketball, and their 0.5385 RPI ranks 47th among Division I teams.
Thirty-two teams automatically receive a bid to the NCAA tournament by winning their conference tournament (plus the Ivy League champ), while the other 32 teams are selected by the selection committee on Selection Sunday, which will take place on March 15. What this means is that UMass will have to go on a long run of wins here if they are to get into the tournament without winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
The good news for UMass is that they are likely to get a good seed in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament if they continue to play well, which will put them in a better position to make a run at the title.
UMass will continue to fight for a spot in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night when they travel to New York to take on St. Bonaventure.