Can you feel it? The weather’s getting warmer. Punxsutawney Phil has retreated back to his burrow. February, believe it or not, is coming to a close. And with that comes the greatest month in college basketball: March. And as the NCAA Tournament approaches, Samford Basketball has a legitimate shot to break their drought and appear in the Big Dance for the first time since 2000.
I hate to bring pressure to a team that is already under tons of scrutiny, but here’s the deal: With a stellar core and quality wins on our side, there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect to see Samford in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs might be one of the deepest teams in not only the SoCon, but across the mid-major landscape. It is rare for a team to have five players (Ques Glover, Logan Dye, Jermaine Marshall, A.J. Staton-McCray, and most recently, Bubba Parham) be a threat and for each of them to have a 20+ point game.
Furthermore, Achor Achor and Jaron Rillie have been revelations recently, anchoring a bench that has helped pick up the slack when the starters don’t perform to their level. While Jaden Campbell and Nathan Johnson have been inconsistent, I could see them easily cranking it up for the home stretch.
It is never the best team on paper that makes a run in March Madness; it is always the team that gets hot at the right time that makes an impact. And Samford has been one of the hottest teams in the country since entering conference play. The Bulldogs have won 15 of their last 17 games, and most recently have racked off seven straight wins with one regular season game left.
Another encouraging sign for Samford: their two conference losses (Furman and Wofford) were seemingly flukes. Against Furman, the Paladins had 17 offensive rebounds and forced Samford into foul trouble. And Wofford shot a ridiculous 47% from the three-point arc in their victory over Samford. These aren’t excuses for losses, but my guess is that Bucky McMillan will make the necessary adjustments against both teams to ensure victory the next time they face.
Overall, this is it for Samford. It’s truly now or never. With one regular season game left and the SoCon Tourney ahead, this team has shown glimpses of a championship-caliber roster. It’s time to go prove it.