After a season that was as frustrating as it was encouraging at times, the UCF Knights find themselves as the 8-seed in the American Basketball Championship in Fort Worth, Texas. Unlike last year, there’s no at-large bid at stake here. The only way the Knights can make the NCAAs is if they run the table in the tournament and steal a bid.
And of course, that’s assuming that all happens as scheduled, but let’s put that aside for the moment.
But it’s college basketball. Could it happen? Sure. Is it likely? No. But then, this season has been one of the wildest in recent memory (just ask Evansville). UCF is currently 50/1 to win The American, according to Vegas Insider. And given what we’ve seen from this team at times, those are pretty generous odds.
Here’s what the Knights have in front of them:
First Round: USF
UCF split its series with USF, with both teams winning at home. USF won the most recent matchup on February 1 by 16 points, and the Knights won by one at home.
The Bulls will be a tough out, but if they can be beaten once, then they can be beaten again.
Second Round: Cincinnati
The Bearcats are the #1 seed, but the Knights beat them in a two-overtime thriller in Cincinnati last time out. Cincy has been a bit inconsistent at times this year (see their losses to Colgate and Bowling Green), so they are certainly vulnerable.
Semifinal: Wichita State or UConn
This is where it gets hard. UCF lost twice to the Shockers and also got beat by UConn in their only meeting. The closest of those three was an 8-point game at Wichita State.
But it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, and with respect to UConn, that game happened on the heels of UCF’s perplexing collapse vs. Tulane. UConn has also won five in a row to close the season, so I dunno, maybe they’re due?
Final: Who the hell knows?
It could likely be Tulsa, Houston, or Memphis, against whom UCF is a combined 1-3 against. They defeated Tulsa in Orlando earlier this year, and the Memphis loss was by just two points, also at home.
But when you get to the final, anything is possible. Just ask Georgia in 2008.
They made a run in the SEC Tournament as the last seed in the East Division, and then a tornado hit the Georgia Dome during the second day of the Tournament:
No problem: The Dawgs won four in a row - including two games in one day - to take the conference title. And they did so playing the final three games in a mostly empty Alexander Memorial Coliseum at Georgia Tech after the Georgia Dome was determined to be too unsafe to host a game:
I’ve learned to never say never. Until that last buzzer goes off, no one is out of it in March.