Who else remembers seeing this on Dec. 15, 2008? I sure do. At that moment I had Cleveland State on my radar as a potential upset in the NCAA tournament.
As the season progressed I kept my eye on this team as well as Western Kentucky after they beat Louisville.
While keeping track of the Vikings season I specifically took note to the fact that they played a solid non-conference schedule and it could only prepare them for the postseason. The only thing holding them back?
Being in the same conference as Butler, and being forced to win the conference tournament to make the postseason.
Through the early parts of the season Cleveland State lost by 15 points to Washington, 10 points to Kansas State, beat a mid-major power Valparaiso by 24, lost to West Virginia by 10, and defeated Syracuse by three.
Yes, they only went 2-3 in the contests I listed above, but they weren't really destroyed by any team this year.
After two losses by two-points to Butler during the season, Cleveland State finally broke through when it mattered the most.
In beating the Bulldogs by three-points in the Conference Championship Game the Vikings of Cleveland State got their berth in the tournament.
On Selection Sunday as I sat there and watched as the brackets were unveiled I saw the 4-13, 5-12 match-ups in the Midwest Region and thought to myself this is it. This is where we will see a 12-13 game in the second round.
Well Arizona got probably the easiest No. 5 seed draw of the entire tournament, with Western Kentucky the second easiest draw (no offense to Utah or Illinois fans).
With Wake Forest having an early departure in the ACC tournament I felt they were "ripe for the upset". However if they had been playing any other No. 13 seed outside of Cleveland State I would have picked the Demon Deacons to win.
Like I said though Cleveland State had a solid resume and has played a good 5-6 teams that were in the tournament this year and did quite well against those teams.
Should you really have been "shocked" by Wake Forest losing? I surely wasn't, and actually had confidence in Cleveland State winning by picking them in all but one of my five brackets I did this year.