Back from a media timeout. The scoreboard read 48-47 Wofford. Just over three and a half minutes on the clock. Cinderella looked hell-bent on taking this ultra-efficient Wisconsin team down to the wire, and millions of people tuning in around the country were about to see it live. Madness indeed.
Then somehow, the tension-filled bright lights of March made a belated appearance, and Wofford froze up. Turnover. Missed free throw. Turnover. Missed free throw. Turnover. Game Over. There it was: 53-49 Wisconsin. Ballgame. Better luck next year.
The Terriers scored a mere point in the final 3:37 against Wisconsin that day. Virtually every chance they were given to advance into the field of 32 was blundered away in gut-wrenching fashion. But as the champs of the Southern Conference for a second consecutive year, Wofford gets a convenient do-over to build on their mistakes from a year ago. As College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins sees it, "anybody that underestimates them could be in a lot of trouble." After a such near-miss in 2010, he might just be right.
A breakdown after the jump...
Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina
Record: 21-12 (14-4)
Leading scorers:(20.0 ppg); (14.0); (12.5)
What to know:
- Hello three-point efficiency. The Terriers are sixth in the country with a 40.7% mark from long range. Rundles (41.3%) is the main guy to watch out for from deep, and his 74 triples serve as solid evidence. Reserve Kevin Giltner is also worth a mention after logging one made three for every 13 minutes of court time during the regular season. But since only 26.4% of Wofford's shot attempts come from the three ball to begin win, the theme here is that you absolutely, unequivocally cannot give these guys open looks. Lackadaisical defense just won't cut it - they'll bury 'em.
- Dahlman though, is mystifyingly-good. No other player in the country who drops 20 a night can even come close to matching his minuscule turnover percentage (8.2%, t-3rd in NCAA). Among players who use at least 24% of their team's possessions, the 6'6" forward ranks second in the country in ORating. Fans of the tempo-free website KenPom know just how valuable the all-encompassing ORating statistic can be, and Dahlman's under-the-radar season was clearly something special.
- Take note of Wofford's 94-90 triple overtime loss to Xavier back on November 27th. This result was intriguing not because of how well the Terriers played, and not because of the fact that Xavier went on to dominate the A-10, but because the Musketeers could conceivably end up snatching a 3 or 4-seed with an A-10 tourney victory to potentially create a rematch in the opening round. A second trip around the block would be interesting to say the least, and for as overblown as back and forth scoring battles get, it's still a pretty nice motivator that Dahlman out-dueled A-10 Player of the Year Tu Holloway 33 to 28 in that game. Keep an eye out for deja vu on Selection Sunday.
Projected seed: #14. The Terriers bring plenty of experience to the table with four senior starters, and smart basketball has a tendency to rise to the top during this magical time we call March Madness. It might take about 50 combined points from Dahlman and Rundles to keep this ship afloat, but there's enough here to put a legit scare into an unsuspecting 3-seed.