Cleveland State Crashes The Big Dance

A.L. BenzContributor IMarch 11, 2009

Right now, there are likely thousands of college basketball fans saying; Who the @#$% is Cleveland State!? How did they get in? And, falling back on their seventh grade geography knowledge, Isn't Cleveland a city?

You see, by winning the Horizon League championship on Tuesday night, the Vikings stuck a large fork in some of the bubble teams out there, as with conference rival Butler being a top 25 team, the scrawny Horizon League will now get two teams into the tourney, essentially eliminating one of the few remaining precious at large bids. So see ya later Penn State. Thanks for playing Arizona.

If you are a fan of any of the twenty or so bubble teams out there, you are cursing a mid-major for sneaking into the tournament. But the truth is that Cleveland State won some 25 games this season and will likely end the season with an RPI above 50. It also won against Big East powerhouse Syracuse, in the carrier dome no less. So, we are not talking about a bottom rung team here.

The Vikings should be extremely proud of their run of four straight victories in an eleven day period. Particularly, given that the last two opponents enjoyed a two game bye, rested and fresh for the Vikes. It is not an easy take by any mean.

To win a conference championship by running the table, a team needs mental and physical toughness, attributes that come in handy during the NCAA tournament. So, don't count these Vikes out as one win wonder, as its tourney run leaves them extremely prepared for the next stage of battle. And you might just get to know these guys a little bit better before its all said and done.