March Sadness: An NCAA Tournament For The Worst Teams

    What if a March Sadness NCAA Tournament kept the worst 68 college basketball teams woefully alive?

    March 15, 2016

    What if there was a different type of March Madness for the worst teams? What if a March Sadness NCAA Tournament kept the worst 68 college basketball teams woefully alive?


    Ugly people need love, too.

    Sixty-eight teams make into the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Thirty-two others get into the NIT, 16 in the CBI, and 26 more make the CIT. That means 142 teams will get to keep on playing basketball, while 209 are done.

    But what if there was a mercy tournament created to give the worst teams something to do in order to salvage some semblance of fun from an otherwise awful season?

    Or, what if it turned into a quest to find the worst team in college basketball?

    Obviously this is all just a goofy exercise, but here it is: determine the 68 worst teams based on conference finishes – like the NCAA Tournament, conference “champions” get an automatic invite, though in this case, the last place team in each league gets in. Throw in the RPI, add in horrendous finishes, long losing streaks, and bad records, and here you go with the inaugural March Sadness tournament.

    There’s no “One Shining Moment.” The tournament retrospective is accompanied by “Loser” by Beck, but at least there’s a “Hang In There!” inspirational poster of a kitten hanging from a tree in every player’s swag bag.

    And there’s one other twist. Unlike the big tournament where every team but one goes home crying in a towel, in March Sadness, 67 teams actually go home on a high note. Win, and you’re out – the loser keeps on playing in a desperate attempt to end the futility.

    The higher the seed, the worse the team. The No. 1 overall seed is Central Connecticut State out of the Northeast, finishing dead last in the nation in RPI with a 4-25 record.

    The Road To Gary, Indiana and the Failure Four starts here …

    Play-In Games

    No. 16 DePaul, Big East at-large (9-22) vs. No. 16 TCU, Big 12 “Champion” (12-21)

    Why DePaul Would Lose: A mistake machine, the Blue Devils were 319th in the nation in turnover margin. The anti-Golden State Warriors, they were 314th in the nation in three-point shooting – losing eight of their last nine games.

    Why TCU Would Lose: The Horned Frogs couldn’t score, couldn’t shoot, and couldn’t rebound. They managed to stun Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament, but lost eight of their last nine games.

    No. 16 Northern Kentucky, Horizon at-large (9-21) vs. No. 16 Cornell, Ivy at-large (10-18)

    Why Northern Kentucky Would Lose: The Norse were on the bubble for being out of the horror after finishing eighth in the 10-team Horizon. They lost nine of their ten games thanks to an offense that went in the tank.

    Why Cornell Would Lose: The Big Red almost found their way out of the tournament, but the only win over the last ten games came against a worse Brown team. They can’t rebound, can’t pass, and can’t shoot, or do much other than hit threes and steal the ball.

    No. 11 Campbell, Big South at-large (12-18) vs. No. 11 Maine, America East at-large (8-22)

    Why Campbell Would Lose: With three lesser teams in the Big South, the Camels weren’t a lock to get in. Winning four in a row in February made this a controversial selection off the bubble, but their inability to rebound and their overall defense pushed them over the top.

    Why Maine Would Lose: Losers of their last nine games, the Bears had a disastrous end of a horrible season. They could score a little bit, but they couldn’t play a lick of defense and couldn’t hit the boards.

    No. 11 Auburn, SEC at-large (11-20) vs. No. 11 NC Central, MEAC at-large (10-22)

    Why Auburn Would Lose: The second-worst team in a mediocre SEC lost its last nine games because the defense was non-existent. The Tigers came up with steals and could hit the three, but everyone padded the stats against them.

    Why NC Central Would Lose: A controversial pick because of their 12 wins, the Eagles were an RPI pick – ranked 311th out of the 351 teams. They won four of their last eight games and almost played their way out of the tourney.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

    South Region

    No. 1 Chicago State, WAC “Champion” (4-28) vs. No. 16 DePaul/TCU loser

    Why Chicago State Would Lose: O-for-WAC, the Cougars had the fourth-worst RPI after losing 27 of their last 28 games and their final 19. Scoring was a problem scoring fewer than 60 points in six of their final eight outings.

    No. 8 Marist, MAAC “Champion” (7-23) vs. No. 9 VMI, Southern at-large (9-21)

    Why Marist Would Lose: Coming up with defensive stops was a big problem for a team that allowed opponents to hit 47% of their shots. There was no pressure from the guards and no rebounds – and no defense. However, the Red Foxes won two of their last three games.

    Why VMI Would Lose: The second-worst team in the Southern got killed on the boards and couldn’t come up with any assists. On the plus side, the Keydets improved, winning three of their final seven games and pushed Samford in an overtime loss in the Southern tournament.

    No. 5 Prairie View, Southwestern at-large (7-24) vs. No. 12 San Diego, West Coast “Champion” (9-21)

    Why Prairie View Would Lose: Sixth in the 10-team SWAC, the Panthers had a nightmare of a time scoring and couldn’t shoot a lick, especially from three. However, they made a late rally winning four of the last seven games and improved defensively.

    Why San Diego Would Lose: The WCC’s worst team lost seven of the last eight games, mainly because it couldn’t shoot from three and couldn’t score in general. The Toreros averaged just 61 points per game.

    No. 4 Central Arkansas, Southland at-large (7-21) vs. No. 13 Delaware, Colonial Athletic “Champion” (7-23)

    Why Central Arkansas Would Lose: There were some February wins to help the cause, but the Bears’ inability to do much of anything on defense and big turnover problems made it a long year. They could hit threes, but not enough of them.

    Why Delaware Would Lose: Where was the Blue Hen scoring punch? They averaged just 66 points per game, turned the ball over way too much, and went on a brutal losing stretch dropping 15 in a row from December to February.

    No. 6 Jacksonville State, Ohio Valley at-large (8-23) vs. No. 11 SE Louisiana, Southland at-large (12-21)

    Why Jacksonville Would Lose: It’s a bad combination when you’re awful on the boards and bad at shooting basketballs. The Gamecocks lose their last eight games, mainly because they couldn’t score.

    Why SE Louisiana Would Lose: How? And why such a bad seed? The Lions won 12 games, came up with four in a row and five of the last seven to close out the season, but they were 331st in RPI.

    No. 3 Lamar, Southland “Champion” (11-19) vs. No. 14 Southern Miss, Conference USA at-large (8-21)

    Why Lamar Would Lose: The Cardinals finished last in the Southland after losing 12 of their last 13 games. After winning on January 2nd for a 9-4 record and with lots of hope, they came up with all of two victories in 2016.

    Why Southern Miss Would Lose: Scoring was optional for the Golden Eagles, finishing the year averaging just 64 points per game and losing nine of their last ten. Defense: okay; Offense: bad.

    No. 7 Drake, Missouri Valley at-large (7-24) vs. No. 10 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Southwestern at-large (8-25)

    Why Drake Would Lose: 325th in RPI, the Bulldogs couldn’t stop turning the ball over, had little interior presence, and just didn’t score enough. A disaster in 2016, they closed out going 2-17.

    Why Arkansas-Pine Bluff Would Lose: The Golden Lions got a little better late in the year with three wins in the last month, but the miserable offense just never got better averaging 56.6 points per game.

    No. 2 UTSA, Conference USA “Champion” (5-27) vs. No. 15 La Salle, Atlantic 10 “Champion” (9-22)

    Why UTSA Would Lose: The worst team in Conference USA lost 13 of its final 14 games because of a total inability to come up with a defensive stop. The Roadrunners allowed over 84 points per game and allowed teams to hit over 50% of their shots.

    Why La Salle Would Lose: The Explorers might have finished on the bottom of the A-10, but they made a push to get out of the tournament winning three of their last five games. The offense sputtered too often, averaging just 64 points per game and struggled on the boards.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

    West Region

    No. 1 Grambling State, SWAC “Champion” (7-24) vs. No. 16 Western Michigan, MAC at-large (13-19)

    Why Grambling State Would Lose: The second-worst team in the nation in RPI, the Tigers were a disaster at shooting, scoring, and getting the ball moving. The went on a midseason three-game winning streak, started to show some promise, and then came mid-January losing 12 of their last 13.

    Why Western Michigan Would Lose: The Broncos should win with ease and get out of the tournament in a hurry. They could rebound and they won a few late games, but they finished last in the MAC West.

    No. 8 Bryant, Northeast at-large (8-23) vs. No. 9 Abilene Christian, Southland at-large (13-18)

    Why Bryant Would Lose: 321st in the nation in RPI, the Bulldogs had a hard time scoring, averaging just 65 points per game, not helped by miserable free throw shooting issues. They got hot in the middle of the season winning three straight and five in six games, but the wheels came off losing 12 in a row before closing out the season with a win over LIU-Brooklyn.

    Why Abilene Christian Would Lose: The Southland also-ran came up with 13 wins, but struggled way too often against anyone who could play a lick. There were enough victories to be among the truly miserable, but they lost three of their last four and five of their last seven.

    No. 5 Alabama A&M, Southwestern at-large (12-21) vs. No. 12 San Jose State, Mountain West “Champion” (9-22)

    Why Alabama A&M Would Lose: 332nd in the nation in RPI, the Bulldogs couldn’t shoot from three and didn’t score enough. There were splashes of wins here and there, but after starting out 4-0 they lost seven straight to set the tone for a rough year.

    Why San Jose State Would Lose: The team that finished on the bottom of the Mountain West got there by being unable to shoot from the outside or from the free throw line. The Spartans could pass, but they couldn’t generate wins, losing seven of their last eight and 11 of their last 14.

    No. 4 McNeese State, Southland at-large (9-20) vs. No. 13 Western Illinois, Summit “Champion” (10-17)

    Why McNeese State Would Lose: The Cowboys made a big push late to get out of a worse seed, winning three straight before losing in double overtime to Nicholls State to end the year. They couldn’t play defense, and they couldn’t stop anyone from scoring – allowing over 79 points per game.

    Why Western Illinois Would Lose: The Leathernecks were great at shooting threes and could play a little defense, but the losses were swarming after a wonderful start. They began the year 5-0 and 7-2, and then the wheels came off losing 11 straight and 15 of their last 17.

    No. 6 Lafayette, Patriot at-large (6-24) vs. No. 11 Bradley, Missouri Valley at-large (5-27)

    Why Lafayette Would Lose: It’s a long year when you win just six games. The Leopards couldn’t stop anyone on the boards, leading to a disastrous season for the defense that allowed more than 80 points per game. They lost 12 in a row and 13 of their last 14 to close out the campaign.

    Why Bradley Would Lose: The Braves won their first game of the season, and just four more the rest of the way, losing 15 of their next 16 after the opener. The inability to pass or hit from three led to a breakdown in scoring, averaging a paltry 56 points per game.

    No. 3 New Orleans, Southland at-large (10-20) vs. No. 14 Minnesota, Big Ten at-large (8-23)

    Why New Orleans Would Lose: The Privateers could score, but they just couldn’t win the close games. Unable to connect from three, their points came from steals and in transition. The problem? RPI, finishing 343rd out of 351 teams even with a three-game winning streak in late January.

    Why Minnesota Would Lose: The Gophers couldn’t hit three-pointers and couldn’t shoot in general. There was a puzzling win over Maryland, but a 14-game losing streak in the middle of the season made it a total clunker of a season.

    No. 7 Coppin State, MEAC at-large (9-21) vs. No. 10 Nicholls State, Southland at-large (11-22)

    Why Coppin State Would Lose: The Eagles had one of the nation’s worst defenses and most miserable shooting offenses, only hitting 38% of their shots. They won two games late in the year, including one in the MEAC tournament, but losing 12 straight early in the season made it too tough to rebound.

    Why Nicholls State Would Lose: An inability to rebound proved to be the undoing, made weirder because the Colonels were fantastic at blocking shots. The shooting was awful and the turnovers were too plenty, but even so, winning four straight – including one in the Southland tournament – helped the seed.

    No. 2 UIC, Horizon “Champion” (5-25) vs. No. 15 Tulane, American “Champion” (11-21)

    Why UIC Would Lose: There was a nice run of three wins in four games, but that was about it for the fun losing ten straight before that, and six straight after to close out. The defense was non-existent, but worst of all, there were way too many turnovers and the shooting was awful.

    Why Tulane Would Lose: Where was the passing? Where was the scoring? The Green Wave couldn’t shoot from the outside, and they couldn’t make the extra passes to get the easy points. They won a few overtime games in February, but there were too many long losing streaks.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

    East Region

    No. 1 Florida A&M, MEAC “Champion” (4-12) vs. No. 16 Bowling Green, MAC “Champion” (16-17)

    Why Florida A&M Would Lose: The Rattlers finished with the third-worst RPI, losing six of their final seven games with an offense that averaged a paltry 64 points per game and couldn’t shoot from the outside. They closed out the horrible season losing nine of their last 11 games.

    Why Bowling Green Would Lose: The MAC’s worst team managed to win 16 games and came close to a .500 record, but they couldn’t protect the ball, couldn’t hit free throws, and couldn’t do enough to improve after starting out the year 12-5. A run of seven straight losses soured the season, but as bad as things were, at least there was a win over Central Michigan in the MAC tournament.

    No. 8 The Citadel, Southern at-large (10-22) vs. No. 9 Presbyterian, Big South at-large (11-20)

    Why The Citadel Would Lose: Most teams in this tournament couldn’t rebound. The Bulldogs really couldn’t hit the boards, getting out rebounded by almost nine a game. However, they attacked and could steal and hit threes. They just couldn’t win enough, closing out with 10 straight losses.

    Why Presbyterian Would Lose: The Blue Hose weren’t careful enough with the ball. 326th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and awful shooting threes. They closed out strong winning three of four games before ending the season in the Big South tournament in a blowout loss to Winthrop.

    No. 5 Northern Arizona, Big Sky “Champion” (5-25) vs. No. 12 Rutgers, Big Ten “Champion” (7-25)

    Why Northern Arizona Would Lose: Really, really bad on the boards and really, really bad doing anything on defense, the last place team in the Big Sky allowed over 81 points per game. Losers of seven of their last eight and 15 of their last 17, they didn’t have much fun.

    Why Rutgers Would Lose: How awful was the Big Ten’s worst team? They destroyed Minnesota 75-52 in the regular season finale for the only win since December 28th, losing 18 of their last 19 games. No defense, no rebounding, and no wins with three of the seven on the season coming in the first four games.

    No. 4 UMBC, America East at-large (7-25) vs. No. 13 Boston College, ACC “Champion” (7-25)

    Why UMBC Would Lose: 339th in RPI, the Retrievers were horrendous defensively, allowing close to 81 points per game allowing teams to connect on almost 50% of their shots. They were able to beat Binghamton in overtime, but that was it late losing six of the final seven games.

    Why Boston College Would Lose: It was an awful year for BC both in football and basketball, finishing in last place in hoops losing their last 19 games going 0-for-2016. Making it worse, that came after a four-game winning streak. The Eagles just couldn’t score, averaging just 61 points per game.

    No. 6 Howard, MEAC at-large (12-19) vs. No. 11 Campbell/Auburn loser

    Why Howard Would Lose: One of the worst passing teams in the country – averaging just 8.5 assists per game and doing nothing from three, the Bison crashed down the stretch losing four of their last five games and nine of their last 11.

    No. 3 SE Missouri State, Ohio Valley “Champion” (5-24) vs. No. 14 St. John’s, Big East “Champion” (8-24)

    Why SE Missouri State Would Lose: The Redhawks had no interior presence and couldn’t score from the outside or on the free throw line. They started out losing their first ten games, managed to win two straight, lost six, won three, and that was it, losing their final eight games.

    Why St. John’s Would Lose: The least in the Big East was able to block shots, but hitting free throws was a rumor, scoring was a problem, and there wasn’t any consistency shooting. There was a blowout February win over DePaul, and that was it losing 21 of their final 22 games.

    No. 7 Mississippi Valley State, Southwestern at-large (7-27) vs. No. 10 Charleston Southern, Big South “Champion” (9-21)

    Why Mississippi Valley State Would Lose: The Delta Devils averaged just 65 points per game, finishing with one of the worst scoring margins in the country. There wasn’t any passing, no rebounds, and little happening from three. It’s not fun when you start the season losing their first 14 games.

    Why Charleston Southern Would Lose: The Big South bottom-feeder could shoot threes, but couldn’t hit free throws. There were moments when things started to work, winning three straight in January, but lost ten of their last 11.

    No. 2 Northwestern State, Southland at-large (8-20) vs. No. 15 Missouri, SEC “Champion” (10-21)

    Why Northwestern State Would Lose: The Demons could score, but they couldn’t rebound and they couldn’t stop anyone, allowing over 86 points per game. However, this is the best free throw shooting team in the field.

    Why Missouri Would Lose: What happened to the former powerhouse? The SEC’s last place team did just about everything wrong, having the most problems shooting from three. The Tigers won back-to-back February games against Tennessee and South Carolina, but that was it in a run of 14 losses in the final 16 games.

    Midwest Region

    No. 1 Central Connecticut, Northeast “Champion” (4-25) vs. No. 16 Northern Kentucky/Cornell loser

    Why Central Connecticut Would Lose: The No. 1 overall seed, the Blue Devils finished last in the nation in RPI, getting blown out by an average of 78-65 per game. There were too many turnovers, too few made shots, too little defense, and too many losses, losing eight straight to start the season and ten straight after coming up with the first win of the season.

    No. 8 Longwood, Big South at-large (10-23) vs. No. 9 Niagara, Metro Atlantic at-large (7-25)

    Why Longhorn Would Lose: The Lancers were among the worst in the nation in turnover margin, but they could score a little bit averaging 73 points per game. Even though they were able to come up with back-to-back wins four times, there were way too many blowout losses.

    Why Niagara Would Lose: Blown out way too often, the lack of passing and the inability to come up with enough easy scores – without any three point shooters – scoring was like pulling teeth. The Purple Eagles closed out the season with nine losses in their final ten games.

    No. 5 UT- Rio Grande Valley, WAC at-large (8-22) vs. No. 12 Troy, Sun Belt “Champion” (9-22)

    Why UT-Rio Grande Valley Would Lose: At least they have one of the nation’s top nicknames – the Vaqueros. Among the worst rebounding teams in the country, they also managed to get blown out by more than 11 points per game. While they managed to win two games late, there were too many long losing streaks.

    Why Troy Would Lose: The worst team in the Sun Belt lost their last five games sputtering too much from the outside. The Trojans just couldn’t shoot, but the defense was just strong enough to be okay. They just couldn’t get anything going consistently well.

    No. 4 Southern Utah, Big Sky at-large (5-24) vs. No. 13 Cal State Fullerton, Big West “Champion” (10-20)

    Why Southern Utah Would Lose: The Thunderbirds lost their first five games, and things didn’t get any better. Unable to come up with enough defensive stops, they allowed 82 points per game losing by an average of 12 points an outing. After being Idaho in OT, they lost 13 of their last 14.

    Why Cal State Fullerton Would Lose: The Big West’s last place team started out great, winning six of its first seven games. But nothing else positive happened the rest of the way, losing 12 of their last 14 games. The Titans couldn’t stop giving the ball away and couldn’t shoot.

    No. 6 Morgan State, MEAC at-large (9-22) vs. No. 11 Campbell/Maine loser

    Why Morgan State Would Lose: 330th in the nation in RPI, the Bears started out 2-3 before losing nine in a row. However, they improved, winning four of five games including a victory in the MEAC tournament before losing to eventual conference champ Hampton by two. The issue? Shooting, hitting only 39% of their shots.

    No. 3 North Carolina A&T, MEAC at-large (10-22) vs. No. 14 Washington State, Pac-12 “Champion” (9-22)

    Why North Carolina A&T Would Lose: The Aggies might have had one of the nation’s worst RPIs – finishing 340th – but they had their moments after starting out 0-7. They won four straight and five in six before the bottom fell out, losing nine straight. However, they won four of their final eight games.

    Why Washington State Would Lose: It seems like a long, long time ago since the Cougars were terrific. They struggled defensively and made way too many mistakes, finishing 332nd in the nation in turnover margin on the way to the Pac-12 basement losing their final 17 games.

    No. 7 USC Upstate, Atlantic Sun at-large (10-22) vs. No. 10 Brown, Ivy “Champion” (8-20)

    Why USC Upstate Would Lose: The Spartans had no defense, allowing 78 points per game and allowed teams to hit 46% of their shots. They could hit threes, but they couldn’t do much from the free throw line. They lost their first seven games, but won just enough here and there – including a four-game midseason run – to keep it from being a total disaster.

    Why Brown Would Lose: The Ivy League’s last place team could pass, had an interior presence, and could shoot the three. It just couldn’t win, losing eight of their last nine games.

    No. 2 Delaware State, MEAC at-large (7-25) vs. No. 15 Quinnipiac, MEAC at-large (9-21)

    Why Delaware State Would Lose: It’s hard to do much with a season after starting out losing the first 13 games and 17 of the first 18. However, the Hornets kept on pushing, going through a run of six wins in nine games. However, they couldn’t rebound and they couldn’t shoot, losing their last five games.

    Why Quinnipiac Would Lose: Even with just nine wins, the Bobcats were just on the outside of the tournament. The RPI was a relatively decent – for this thing – 297, and with a good defense and nice three-point shooting, it was a better year than the record.

    MORE: Campus Insiders’ 2016 Interactive NCAA Tournament Bracket

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