April 20, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Hofstra on Senior Night, 11-6 -

Saturday, April 19, 2014

VIDEO: UMass United Rally in support of Derrick Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Friday, April 18, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hewitt: Time running out on UMass basketball’s NCAA tournament chances

Alex Aritan/Collegian

Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg says he hasn’t been sleeping too well lately.

It would be hard to blame him, considering his team is not only fresh off back-to-back losses last week, but, in the majority of NCAA tournament projections, on the outside looking in at the Big Dance.

That’s not, however, why the fifth-year coach is on the verge of sleeplessness.

Instead, after a 1-point loss to Temple on Saturday night, he’s thinking about the past, not the future.

“I’m thinking about a lot of the last-second plays, and what could have or would have potentially been,” Kellogg said. “That’s just the nature of the beast.”

But sleep on this: With five games to go in the regular season, time is quickly running out on the Minutemen’s chances to go dancing next month.

Somebody set the alarm clock.

Amidst a long college basketball season, it’s easy to pinpoint a game or two that could make or break a team’s postseason chances.

For UMass, those games came last week.

After playing arguably their best basketball of the season in wins over Rhode Island and then Saint Joseph’s, the Minutemen had a chance to cement themselves as a worthy NCAA tournament candidate with wins against Virginia Commonwealth and Temple, both teams that were in Joe Lunardi’s field of 68 at the beginning of last week.

But they came up empty-handed. First, UMass became the latest victims of the Rams’ “havoc” defense, and were completely dominated in the second half of a game that wasn’t really as close as the final score indicates.

The Minutemen then had a chance to make amends at home against the Owls. But down one on the final possession of the game, they couldn’t even get a shot off.

Suddenly, UMass is on the outside looking in at the NCAA tournament picture, and with less than four weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, doesn’t have much time to climb back into it.

Perhaps he’s putting his best poker face on, but Kellogg doesn’t seem to be worried.

“I don’t even really think about that,” he said. “I think it’s really always pretty early to worry about it until like two games are left on the schedule, maybe one.”

At 16-8 and 6-5 in the A-10, Kellogg said his team is in a “decent position.” And make no mistake about it, with an RPI of 56, the Minutemen are still right in the hunt.

They don’t really have any bad losses either, although a home loss to George Washington in January could turn off the NCAA tournament selection committee depending on how the Colonials (11-12, 5-5 A-10) do the rest of the way.

The problem, though, seems to be in UMass’ lack of quality wins. The Minutemen’s best win of the season is probably Jan. 30’s road victory at La Salle, which is having an excellent season and is currently in Lunardi’s field of 68.

Other than that? There’s not much.

UMass has pretty much beaten everyone it’s supposed to and lost to everyone it’s supposed to. Early-season losses to NC State, which was ranked at the time, and Miami (Fla.), which is now ranked No. 2, could have gone a long way in the win department.

And now, with losses that would have been big victories against VCU and Temple, it’s easy to say the Minutemen lost their best opportunity to vault into the NCAA tournament conversation.

Just look at their remaining schedule. Of UMass’ five remaining regular-season games, only one is against an NCAA tournament team in Butler, which will likely still be nationally-ranked when it arrives to the Mullins Center on March 7.

That game, however, is no more of a must-win than any of the others. Losses to St. Bonaventure, Dayton or URI – who are all battling just to make next month’s Atlantic 10 tournament – could put the Minutemen out of the NCAA tournament picture for good, and a loss at Xavier would be another missed opportunity for a quality road win.

Barring a deep run in the A-10 tournament, it’s truly, more than ever, put up or shut up time for UMass.

As Kellogg said, that’s just the nature of the beast.

“I feel like we put ourselves in a position that now we have to win. Every game is a must-win,” Sampson Carter said. “All of them are must-wins, but it’s way more serious now.

“We just have to take it one game at a time. Just seize the moment, really.”

And if they don’t, it could be right back to the National Invitation Tournament.

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at shewitt@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.

Comments
6 Responses to “Hewitt: Time running out on UMass basketball’s NCAA tournament chances”
  1. Greg says:

    Time running out?? I really hope you are joking here. Time ran out when Jesse Morgan went down… possibly even before that!

  2. Josh says:

    This dudes obviously trolling hard right here…

  3. Papa says:

    Hey Steve, best column I have read all year on any website!

  4. esto says:

    Blind papa!

  5. Papa says:

    Just to make clear. My comment was pure sarcasm.

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