NCAA

March Madness 2018: Why you should cheer for New Mexico State in the NCAA Tournament

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March Madness 2018: Why you should cheer for New Mexico State in the NCAA Tournament

Need a team to root for in March Madness? Look no further than the New Mexico State Aggies.

They check-off all of the criteria for Cinderella, feel-good story of the NCAA Tournament:
—They’re a No. 12 seed
— From a one-bid conference (WAC)
— Head coach left them a season ago
— Redemption story form current coach
—They have a 6-5 rebounding-beast

Just over a year ago, the Aggies were celebrating their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons with a coaching search.

Ten-year veteran Paul Weir left New Mexico State to take on the same role at the Aggies rival, New Mexico.

No one questioned the move up from a WAC program to a Mountain West school, but from an Aggie to a Lobo, that just does not sit well.

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Despite the coaching change, the Aggies delivered the same record heading into the NCAA Tournament (28-5, 12-2 WAC) with a better resume. In non-conference play not only did the Aggies defeat their former head coach twice in the same year, they knocked off Illinois, Davidson, and Miami. Had New Mexico State finished the season undefeated in their conference, some questioned whether they could contend for an at-large bid.

Nevertheless the Aggies rolled through the WAC while celebrating their 50th season as a program. They won their fourth regular season title and eighth tournament title.

This all happening while New Mexico will sit at home missing postseason basketball. Just an added plus for Aggie fans. 

This was accomplished with new head coach Chris Jans at the helm of the program.

Name sound familiar? That’s because it probably is. Back in 2015, Jans was fired from Bowling Green for harassing a woman at a bar.

To say that he messed up his first head coaching stint at the Division I level is an understatement. If you want more detail on the interaction between Jans and the woman there are plenty of articles and YouTube videos out there.

You don’t have to condone his actions or like the man to recognize that this is his second chance and a redemption story for him.

Additionally it is the second season ever as a Division I coach.

"I’m happy he got a second chance. I think he’s a guy that’s learned from his mistake. Was always an up and comer in this business,” ESPN’s Jeff Goodman said. “He can recruit and connects with players. Obviously, he’s proven that he can coach and that’s a rarity to see a guy that can do all those things these days.”

Despite four letterwinners transferring out of the program the Aggies bumped up two seed lines from a No. 14 seed to a No. 12 seed. With the new hire, Jans was able to bring Zach Lofton (grad-transfer) from Texas Southern to the program.

READ MORE: DARKHORSE PICKS TO MAKE THE FINAL FOUR

If there is any mid-major team that should be labeled as a gauntlet, it should be the Aggies. With the 10th best defensive unit in the country and only allowing 64 points a contest, New Mexico State is a dangerous team.

Senior Jemerrio Jones has been known to throw a wrench in opponents’ approach to the Aggies. Standing at 6-5, Jones is a rebounding monster from the wing. Listed as a forward and as the third shortest player in the Aggies’ lineup, he brings down 13.2 boards a contest, the second-most in the NCAA. Shooting 50 percent from the field and drawing a ton of mid-range attention, he also scores 11.0 ppg and 3.1 apg.

The graduate transfer Lofton, who has travelled all across the country, is at his last stop of his playing career. He has gone from junior college, to Illinois State, Minnesota, Texas Southern, and wraps up his eligibility with New Mexico State. While at Texas Southern he carried the team to an NCAA Tournament bid and was an All-American Honorable Mention. This year he leads the Aggies with 20 points a game and probably wants to do another trip around the country in these upcoming weeks.

As a team, they outshoot opponents by nearly seven percent. They out rebound everyone else, led by Jones, by nine rebounds a contest. They focus on ball movement (14.1 apg) and do not rely on their three-point shooting.

For both of these two their college days are over after this NCAA Tournament run, along with 6-10 forward Johnathon Wilkins.

MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT: 14 TEAMS TO CHEER FOR BASED ON SCHOOL COLORS

Although all of these guys have made it to the dance, not once have they won. New Mexico State has lost 10 straight NCAA Tournament games. Their last win came in 1993. To end the 25 year drought, the Aggies play No. 5 Clemson in the Midwest region on Friday. With a tip in San Diego at 9:57 pm ET, the Aggies are primed to be yet another No. 12 seed to unset a No. 5.

So if you are not a fan of mid-majors beating high-majors, a redemption story, overcoming all odds, sending out memorable players on a good note, or fun, then do not root for New Mexico State.

But if you are like the rest of us then root for the Aggies on Friday and for the rest of the tournament.

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Howard women's soccer officially wins the toilet paper juggle challenge

Howard women's soccer officially wins the toilet paper juggle challenge

Everyone can go ahead and stop posting their attempt at the toilet paper juggling challenge because Howard University women's soccer has officially won.

In a video posted Thursday, 23 members of the team can be seen juggling a roll of toilet paper and continuously passing it off to their teammates off-screen. 

In the age of coronavirus, social distancing and owning toilet paper rolls are some of the most prominent aspects of the pandemic. This particular toilet paper challenge combines them in a fun way. 

The toilet paper challenge began when bored pro athletes challenged each other to juggle a roll of toilet paper ten times in a row without it falling to the ground. Lionel Messi was one of the first to do it and the internet, as it does, took the idea and ran with it. 

It was fun to watch all the videos while the challenge lasted, but as we've already said, Howard has won this one. 

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March Madness Revisited: When George Washington made it back to the NCAA Tournament

March Madness Revisited: When George Washington made it back to the NCAA Tournament


As March winds down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington takes a look back at the smaller DMV schools and their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

Despite some recent struggles, confidence was high in Foggy Bottom for the George Washington basketball program entering the 2013-14 season. 

“I thought we could be good,” former GW head coach Mike Lonergan told NBC Sports Washington. “I thought we could win 20 games and have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament.”

The Colonials had not been to the tournament since 2007 and finished under .500 the first two years after Lonergan arrived from Vermont. However, the Bowie, Md. native, a former head coach at Catholic and assistant at Maryland under Gary Williams, was bullish thanks to the addition of Indiana graduate transfer Maurice Creek. 

“I knew we needed someone like him,” Lonergan said. “I knew if he could play at even 80% that he would give us the scoring we needed.”

Creek averaged 16.4 points per game as a freshman at Indiana before numerous leg injuries derailed his time in Bloomington. The former Hoosier led the Colonials in scoring (14.1 ppg) that season. 

The moment of arrival for George Washington occurred Thanksgiving weekend in Anaheim. In the third place game of the Wooden Classic, the Colonials faced 20th-ranked Creighton. George Washington beat the Blue Jays, 60-53, and held eventual consensus first-team All-America Doug McDermott to a season-low seven points. 

“That’s when I knew we were pretty good because Creighton was fabulous,” Lonergan said. 

The Colonials were the only team that season to hold McDermott under double digits. That was the turning point in their season.  

After returning from California, the Colonials defeated Rutgers, Maryland, and Georgia even before beginning Atlantic 10 play. Creek buried a game-winning shot at the buzzer to defeat Maryland in the BB&T Classic, 77-75. 

“Everything we did started in the summer time,” Creek told NBC Sports Washington. “We believed in each other.”

George Washington finished the regular season with a 24-8 record and an 11-5 mark in conference play. On Selection Sunday, the Colonials emerged as the No. 9 seed in the East Region. Lonergan will never forget that feeling of that day. 

“It was definitely exciting,” Lonergan said. “When I got the job, I thought it was a five-year deal before we got really good. So we were ahead of schedule.”

George Washington headed to Raleigh, N.C. to play Memphis. Luck was not on the Colonials side that evening. In addition to second-leading scorer Kethan Savage being sidelined due to an injury, Creek needed stitches above his eye early in the game. 

Creek finished just 2-for-13 from the field. Senior Isaiah Armwood finished with a season-high 21 points but was called for his fourth foul with 12:02 to play in the second half. 

"It definitely changed my defense, because when I'm on defense, I'm usually active. I couldn't foul," Armwood said. 

The Colonials still had multiple chances to tie the game in the final minute down by three but came up short and ultimately lost to the Tigers, 71-66. 

“It was disappointing because we could really score and we only put up 66 [points] that game,” Lonergan recalled. 

Despite the disappointing loss, George Washington basketball looked healthy once again following a successful season. The Colonials won a school-record 28 games and the NIT two years later, but they are still searching for a return trip to the tournament with a rebuilding plan in place under new coach Jamion Christian. 

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