A New England school not typically known for its basketball program is suddenly receiving plenty of attention upon learning that it’d be going dancing come tournament time.
That school is not the University of Vermont.
The program described, of course, is Harvard, which had already seen its blip on the map grow larger in recent months with the explosion of “Linsanity.” Then, with the Crimson winning the Ivy League championship outright for the first time ever — thus clinching their first NCAA tournament berth since 1946 — the media attention has continued to grow.
Cinderella. Upset. Bracket Buster.
Take your pick, as all of them have been used in conjunction with the suddenly popular Harvard Crimson, despite Tommy Amaker‘s bunch drawing a first-round matchup with Vanderbilt, which is fresh off an SEC tournament championship win over Kentucky that ended the Wildcats’ 24-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, the Vermont Catamounts sit off to the side, hardly on the radar when it comes to New England teams in the Big Dance.
It’s quite understandable, as not only is Vermont not a basketball powerhouse by any means, but the Catamounts also had to participate in one of this year’s “First Four” games in order to even entertain the thought of reaching the 64-team field.
Where Vermont is at right now is made even more impressive, though, by the fact that the team struggled so mightily early in the season.
Vermont lost five games in a row from Dec. 1-Dec. 17 — one loss was to Harvard. Since that dismal stretch, which left the Catamounts at 4-7, Vermont has gone 25-4. That includes winning 14 of its last 15 games.
In other words, Vermont could have packed it in early. But it didn’t. So now, we should begin praising the program for what it did do.
Vermont did play hard the rest of the season. It did earn a First Four selection. And the Catamounts did defeat Lamar on Wednesday for the right to face Roy Williams‘ North Carolina Tar Heels.
Considering no No. 16 seed has ever defeated a No. 1 seed, Vermont’s run will likely come to a screeching halt. And for that, it’s even more important that we take notice while we can.
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