If you perused last night’s college basketball scores, you may have noticed that Southern Mississippi beat a school called Dillard 135-41.
That’s a 94-point margin.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles, who last season earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, set school records for points scored, margin of victory, three pointers, steals, whatever.
Dillard, not to be confused with the department store of the same name, is a historically black university in New Orleans that competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Though the NAIA has a rich history, the level of play is comparable to or a tier below NCAA’s Division III.
So there’s really nothing surprising or impressive about Southern Miss winning this game by nearly 100 points. When you consider that the majority of the Golden Eagles’ points came from bench players, it’s not even clear that they were running up the score.
The problem with this game wasn’t the margin of victory. It was that it was scheduled in the first place.
While I can appreciate Southern Miss scheduling a guaranteed win to give its reserves some minutes and build momentum heading into conference play, I don’t understand why the Golden Eagles are allowed to count this game as anything other than an exhibition.
For some reason, Southern Miss includes this farce of a victory in its win-loss record and the team’s stats from this game have been recorded in the Division I record books. If Southern Miss really wanted to play against Dillard, they should have done so in November, before the official start of the season.
To be fair, Southern Miss isn’t the only Division I program guilty of this nonsense.
Western Illinois, who currently sits atop the Summit League, opened its season with a 71-39 win over Division III Wabash. Wabash—the D-III school—classified the game as an exhibition. Western Illinois—the Division I school with postseason aspirations—didn’t.
Perhaps the NCAA should take a break from cracking down on improper phone calls and donations made by the adoptive parents of prospective players and institute a rule saying that Division I programs cannot count in their records or official statistics the results of games against NCAA Division III or non-NCAA teams.
I would suggest that there also be a one-game limit on contests against Division II schools. (An exception could be made for early season tournaments. That way schools that end up playing Division II Chaminade in the Maui Invitational wouldn’t be penalized.)
Congratulations on padding your school record books, Southern Miss.