Schuck's Clipboard

Plenty of NCAA Tournament teams to hitch with bandwagon

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 20, 2019 2:20 am

Do you find yourself a college basketball fan without a team these days?

Illinois didn't make it past the second day of the Big Ten Tournament, let alone sniff an NCAA Tournament bid. Mizzou's circumstances are the same as a short stay at the SEC Tournament turned all attention to recruiting, not postseason preparation.

The mid-major programs from this region -- Western Illinois University, Illinois State, etc. -- struggled to uneventful finishes. Bradley won the Missouri Valley Conference championship, but the black eye the program is wearing for its recent public relations nightmare makes it tough to back the Braves.

But you want to hitch your bandwagon to somebody, right?

Outside of the teams you picked to reach the Final Four on your bracket, there are some intriguing teams you might to consider rooting for the next three weeks.

Start with Iowa. Seeded 10th in the South Region and facing seventh-seeded Cincinnati, the Hawkeyes are actual the second-closet major college program to the area. Iowa City, Iowa, is 131 miles from Quincy, while Columbia, Mo., is 107 miles and Champaign is 198 miles.

The Iowa lineup features freshman wingman Joe Wieskamp, the Muscatine, Iowa, product who was one of the stars of the inaugural Quincy Shootout when he scored 34 points to lead Muscatine to a victory over Clark County. It's also the alma mater of Tom and Michael Payne, the Quincy High School father-and-son Hall of Famers.

Saint Louis University is another regional program you could get behind. The champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference are seeded 13th in the East Region and open against fourth-seeded Virginia Tech. The Billikens beat Quincy University in an exhibition game back in November at Chafeitz Arena and are coached by Travis Ford, who began his collegiate playing career at Mizzou before transferring to Kentucky.

Jordan Goodwin, the Billikens' third leading scorer, is a Belleville Althoff product who led the Crusaders to victories over QHS in back-to-back years at the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic with 20 and 28 points, respectively.

Iowa State might have a few fans in this area. The Cyclones are seeded sixth in the Midwest Region and open against 11th-seeded Ohio State, and they feature 6-foot-11 freshman forward George Conditt Jr. in the middle, a Chicago Corliss product who put on a shot-blocking show when Corliss visited Blue Devil Gym last winter.

Plus, Iowa State is the future home of QHS all-state running back Jirehl Brock. So there is likely some red-and-gold gear floating around here already.

Auburn could be a team you either love or hate based on the head coach alone. Bruce Pearl spent nine seasons as the head coach at Southern Indiana, facing Quincy University on a yearly basis and was the Screaming Eagles' coach in 1997 when the Hawks won 125-118 in triple overtime in the GLVC Tournament in one of the postseason tourney's most memorable games ever.

He also spent time prior to that as an assistant coach at Iowa and was linked to the Deon Thomas recruiting scandal that led to a one-year postseason ban for the Illinois. Thus, he is universally despised by Illini nation.

For that reason, Illini fans probably will root for whoever Auburn plays. That works because all you need is a hitch and reason to hook on the bandwagon.