Caltech is one of the world’s most renowned institutions for science and pranks. Actually they are really good at pranks, so much so that they even boast about it on their website. Men’s Basketball has never been a strong point however and that has led to the Beavers becoming a lesson in futility. Up until Tuesday night the Beavers had endured a 310 game losing streak in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a skid that had lasted 26 years.
The bleeding ended at home to Occidental when Ryan Elmquist, a senior who had endured nearly four years of Caltech’s woes first-hand, stepped up to the free-throw line with 3.3 seconds left on the clock and the score 45-45. Elmquist made the first, 46-45. The senior missed the second but a last-gasp hurl by Sam Stapleton went nowhere near the basket. The streak was over. In case you were wondering, of course the fans stormed the court afterwards.
There aren’t many good nights in the Braun Arena so when they come along it’s important to celebrate. Somewhere in Louisiana, it’s likely a coach of a small school is hoping to take inspiration from that result.
While Caltech ply their trade in Division III, with no athletic scholarships, the worst team at the top level of College Basketball has arguably the best nickname. The Centenary Gentlemen are currently 0-28 for the season, carrying a 33 game losing streak that dates back to last season. This is the worst active streak in Division I Basketball.
The Summit League team has been hampered by a phasing out of scholarship players, due to the school’s decision to drop down to Division III from next season. With just four scholarship players on the roster, the Gentleman (whose female counterparts, the Ladies, are 0-23) are on the verge of the first losing season in school history.
There is hope however as Centenary will host Western Illinois tonight. The Leathernecks are on a 10-game losing streak and narrowly beat the Gentlemen, 57-51, back in December. If there is one team on Centenary’s schedule they are capable of beating, this is it. While the 7-20 record of Western Illinois represents 7 more wins than the Gentlemen have achieved this season, it’s still pretty abysmal.
Now I love College Basketball but even I can’t claim to have actually seen any games involving either of these two teams. The only Summit League team I’ve seen all season has been Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies beat Centenary twice, by 27 points and 30 points, and did likewise to WIU with 29 point and 23 point winning margins. That isn’t a lot of help in trying to gauge how this game will go so instead we have to look at the mental factor. One more win over a bad team won’t do too much for the Leathernecks’ psyche, although the urge to break a 10-game skid could be substantial. Centenary’s players have a whole different kind of motivation. This is their penultimate game at Division I level and realistically their last chance to win at this level, barring a win over second-placed IUPUI on Saturday. That’s a big motivation right there. As far as the Centenary players are concerned, this is the NCAA Championship game. Surely, finally, this is their time. Now they have to go out there and take it.