Posted under Sports
Mercer University, where I am employed, has just won the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) Championship, beating Utah State 70 – 67 in their stadium.
As a Mercer employee I get two free tickets to all home games, and I saw almost every home game with my son who is basketball obsessed. One nice thing about small college basketball is that you feel like you know these guys. Of course they don’t know me except maybe as that fat guy who is always making a fool of himself in the stands, but that doesn’t stop me from calling them all by their first name like we’re best buds.
For those who are not familiar with the CIT, as I wasn’t until this year, it is a post season tournament designed for mid-majors who don’t make the NCAA tournament or the NIT. While it may not seem like a big deal to most people, it is for Mercer which doesn’t really have a history of being a basketball powerhouse. The Mercer community has really embraced this team and this tournament run.
Mercer’s final record of 27 -11 shattered the previous record for wins in a season by a Mercer team. This tournament was only their third post-season tournament in school history and their first round win was their first ever post-season tournament win. This is also the first ever post season tournament championship for an Atlantic Sun team.
Mercer, which was picked to finish in the middle of the A-Sun pack pre-season, finished second in the conference to the surprise of all, beaten out by pesky Belmont to the surprise of no one. Mercer had high hopes of meeting Belmont again in the A-Sun tournament and earning a NCAA tourney bid but were upset in the semi-final game. Everyone was excited about the CIT invite however as it meant more basketball.
Mercer played the first two tournament games at home including one against a tough Georgia State team. We won the next three on the road including beating a very tough Old Dominion team and tonight Utah State in their very loud house.
And the best news, the team starts four sophomores, so they are going to do some damage for the next two years. With pesky Belmont leaving the conference, Mercer might just put the scare in a high seed in next year’s NCAA tourney.
* BTW, a total junk shot by Utah State that happened to go in and kept them in the game at the end just made #5 on ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day.
Update: Here is the local Macon paper story on the game.