There won’t be One Shining Moment for the College of Charleston basketball team this March.
Despite winning 24 games this season, the Cougars are planning to watch March Madness play out on television next week.
Charleston's only shot at a NCAA Tournament bid was winning the CAA Tournament, which it did a year ago. But the Cougars lost to eventual champion Northeastern in the semifinals Monday night at North Charleston Coliseum.
The team also is not considered a strong candidate for the 32-team NIT field – a tournament it played in two years ago. The fields for both tournaments will be announced Sunday night.
The Cougars are 106th in the NCAA NET Ranking, which the NCAA and NIT tournament selection committees are using this year to evaluate teams for the first time.
Teams that win their regular-season conference titles automatically receive a bid to the NIT if they don’t get an automatic or at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Hofstra, which lost in the CAA final to Northeastern Tuesday night, will play in the NIT. The Pride swept the Cougars in their two regular-season games.
Charleston, which finished behind Hofstra and Northeastern in the CAA standings, has the two best non-conference wins among all of the teams in its league. The Cougars handed VCU its only home loss of the year. The Rams are a lock for an NCAA Tournament bid and have a NET Ranking of 31.
The Cougars also defeated Memphis, which is ranked No. 53. The Cougars were 1-1 against teams ranked in the NET's top 50 and 3-5 versus top 100 teams.
Losses by Lipscomb, South Dakota State, Campbell, Loyola and Wright State in their respective conference tournaments hurt the Cougars chances of getting an at-large NIT bid. All are guaranteed a spot in the NIT because they won their regular-season titles.
"I used to cheer for all the underdogs, but not anymore," College of Charleston athletic director Matt Roberts said. "We needed chalk to get into the NIT."
“In some ways I think we’ve got a better resume this year,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “We had a great year, a couple of great road wins, and we definitely deserve to play in the postseason, but it's up to the selection committee.”
Roberts said the Cougars are not interested in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) or the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT).
“Coming off an NCAA run last year and getting into the NIT two years ago, that’s our standard now,” Roberts said. “If this had been three or four years ago, maybe if this was Earl’s first season, then I think playing in those tournaments would be a wise investment in the program. In that situation, you want to reward the kids for a good season that just came up a little bit short.”
Charleston Southern, which went 17-15 and won seven of its last 10 games, will play in the CIT. The Bucs were one of the youngest teams at the Division I level this past season.
“I think this is an investment in the future of our program,” said Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh. “It’s an opportunity for this group of players to practice for another week and play in a competitive, tough environment.
"It’s like a bowl game. Not everyone gets to play in the national championship semifinals, but all those other bowl games are important in building a program. It’s also a reward for the players.”
Some college programs dismiss the idea of paying to play in the CIT and CBI tournaments. The going rate to host a game in those tournaments is between $35,000 and $40,000. Charleston Southern athletic director Jeff Barber said the Bucs did not put in a bid to host a game, so they will play on the road for all tournament games.
“For us the cost is very minimal because the tournament covers most of your travel expenses,” Barber said. “I think tournaments like this make sense for some teams and not for others. This is a foundational piece that will allow us to be a championship team and hopefully go to the NCAA Tournament in the future.”