Southern Mississippi was a bubble team entering action on the last Saturday of the NCAA season before March Madness starts, and all they needed to do was win to stay in the running to win an automatic bid to the big dance. That’s exactly what the Golden Eagles have been doing as they rolled their way to the Conference-USA Championship game against No. 20 Memphis.
After a rough start to the game, Southern Mississippi was able to fight back and make a run at Memphis late in the second half. After being down 62-56 with little over 30-seconds left in the game, the Eagles capped off their comeback in the second half by hitting an unbelievable buzzer beater to send the game to overtime, but things were far from being settled.
After Neil Watson’s buzzer beater, the Eagles hung tight with the Tigers in the first overtime and just missed a chance to win the game on a buzzer beater not unlike the one that sent the game to overtime. Southern Mississippi could taste how close they were to March Madness as they stuck close to Memphis throughout the second overtime as well, despite the fact that Memphis was answering every Southern Mississippi scoring possession with three pointers.
A win would have given the Eagles an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but in the final minute of the game, Memphis went on a 9-0 run to put the clamp on the game to end the Eagles season. There’s still a chance they can make the tournament, but they blew an opportunity to guarantee themselves a place in the big dance.
Memphis is guaranteed to be in the tournament, but the question for them is where will they be seeded?
But one thing is certain, if the Conference-USA title game is a preview of what’s in store next week, March truly will be full of beautiful madness.