Two years removed from playing in the SWAC title game with an NCAA tournament berth on the line, Grambling State has completed what might be the worst regular season in modern college basketball history.
The Tigers, whose tribulations we've documented on the blog this year, lost 74-62 to Alabama State on Saturday, sealing their winless record, finishing 0-27 and never losing a game in single digits. Under first-year coach Joseph Price, Grambling State will wind up last in every mainstream ranking system: RPI, KenPom, BPI, Sagarin. No. 347. That is their number, the lowest number in college basketball, lower than zero.
It's infamous and depressing -- and not over.
Grambling State can still make the NCAA tournament because Grambling State is still eligible for the SWAC tournament, meaning there is the most desperate and faintest of chances that the ultimate folly can come to be: a four-win team playing in the Big Dance. But that's not going to happen. Grambling State will almost definitely lose its next game, its final game, and finish 0-28.
In reality, this is something I'm not trumpeting, but regrettably pointing out. It's not every season that college basketball has a team fail to win a single game. In fact, Grambling State is the first team that wasn't a D-I transitional/independent program to go winless in a season in two decades.
This is also a snapshot into the low end of college basketball, the taboo matter of fact that we've got too many teams. The game is competitive at the top, but 347 is too large a number -- and it will grow larger still, as a program here or there sneaks its way in to D-I eligibility.
Nevertheless, this Grambling State story, in time, will build to a better one. Eventually, Grambling State will win the SWAC. It may take five, 10, 15 years, but they'll come back, the whole way. When they do, we'll look back to now and see the lowest of the low.
The program has been through four coaches in the past five years. Hopefully, Price is the guy to stay on, have patience, and build the program. No one should be this bad. No players should have to go through what GSU's guys have done. No one wants to be remembered for something they couldn't do, let alone not do it 27 times.
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