There’s a reason low-seeded teams celebrate an NCAA tournament berth: It’s an honor just to get invited. An invite is validation that your hard work and dedication paid off. It doesn’t matter if you’re a No. 1 seed or a No. 14 seed, you were deemed good enough to get a shot at the NCAA championship.
Middle Tennessee was hoping to take part in that celebration Sunday. The team had cruised to a dominant 16-2 record in Conference USA, but a surprising loss to Southern Miss in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament put its NCAA tournament hopes in a questionable spot.
Middle Tennessee did not make the cut Sunday, and no player on the team felt that disappointment more than senior Nick King.
About an hour after MTSU learned its fate, Nick King is the last one in the video room. Hasn’t moved.
For how much he put into this season/this team after a winding and arduous beginning to his collegiate career, it’s a heartbreaking sight. pic.twitter.com/eBIZPSNhCs
— Erik Bacharach (@ErikBacharach) March 11, 2018
King — who wound up at Middle Tennessee after transferring from both Memphis and Alabama — was a big reason for the team’s success in 2018. He led the team with 21.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
He did everything in his power to put his team in position to celebrate on Selection Sunday, only to see it come up short.
After getting snubbed, King couldn’t bring himself to move from his seat. An hour after the news was announced, he was still in the video room watching the screen, perhaps hoping something would change.
While missing out on the NCAA tournament is a major disappointment, King still has something to play for. Middle Tennessee did make it into the NIT tournament as a No. 3 seed. That might not be as glamorous, but it still gives King a shot to finish his college career on a high note.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik