Liberty Men's Basketball Makes History with Big South Tournament Victory

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 10, 2013

Mar 10, 2013; Conway, SC, USA; Liberty Flames center Joel Vander Pol (21) drives on Charleston Southern Buccaneers forward Cedrick Bowen (24) during the championship game of the Big South Conference tournament at HTC Center. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports
Curtis Wilson-USA TODAY Sports

At this point in the season, we are usually talking about teams making history in the win column, but it was the astounding number in the loss column for the Liberty Flames men's basketball team that made history on Sunday.

Dale Layer's team completed their improbable run in the Big South tournament by defeating Charleston Southern, 87-76, at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C., to earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship despite a 15-20 record. 

With the victory, Liberty became just the second team in history to lose 20 games in a season and clinch a spot in the tournament. 

The only other team to qualify for the tournament after a 20-loss regular season was Coppin State of the MEAC, which fell in the First Four to Mount St. Mary's in 2008.

In their conquest of the Big South, the Flames took down the No. 1 teams from both the North and South divisions.

After defeating host team Coastal Carolina in the first round, the Flames defeated High Point, which finished first in the North, in the quarterfinals. 

With their confidence soaring, the Flames were able to squeeze out a victory over Gardner-Webb in the semifinals before they took down the winners of the South division, tournament favorite Charleston Southern, in the championship game. 

Now, Liberty will most likely be sent to Dayton for the First Four games on March 19 and 20. 

If the Flames can somehow extend their season-high winning streak to six games in Dayton, they will have to play one of the top four teams in the country. 

With Liberty making history on Sunday, plenty of people chimed in on the Flames' success through Twitter. 

Jon Rothstein of CBS commented on how unpredictable basketball in March can really be. 

Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein

Liberty earns a bid to the NCAAs with 20 losses. College basketball - where the unexpected becomes the ordinary.

However, the reaction was not all positive, as this fan thinks Liberty has no business being in the field of 68. 

Craig Hoffman @CraigHoffman

I love college basketball's regular season but it's not perfect. Needs to mean more. Liberty has no business making the tournament. 20 L's?

Whether or not Liberty can become the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 remains to be seen, but as we have learned this season, anything is possible. 

Follow me on Twitter @JTansey90


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