Mocs believe March miracle can happen in Asheville - WSMV News 4

Mocs believe March miracle can happen in Asheville

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Keegan Bell knows everyone expects his team's Southern Conference Tournament trip to be a short one.

That's why the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior point guard packed his bags with a plan to prove them wrong.

"It's all about believing," he said Tuesday. "I'm making sure we have underwear and socks ready for four or five days. It's time to have some fun."

The Mocs were all smiles as they boarded the bus to Asheville on Wednesday night. History shows those good feelings will not last.

No team has ever won four games in four days to claim the SoCon Tournament title, but that's the position UTC put itself in after failing to secure a first-round bye with a last-place finish in the North Division.

On record alone, Chattanooga would qualify as one of the least likely teams in the tournament's history to be the first to run the gauntlet. The Mocs won just five league games all season, yet head coach John Shulman still believes they can win four in a row in Asheville.

"If we had lost all those games by 30, I would say we don't have a prayer and we're not good enough," said Shulman, who is 8-5 all-time in SoCon Tournament games. "It's ridiculous and bizarre how we lost all those."

It may be far more bizarre to see UTC still standing come Monday night's 9 p.m. ET championship game tip on ESPN2, but Shulman noted crazier things have happened.

Exhibit A: UConn's remarkable five wins in five days in the far more rugged Big East Tournament.

"If you can win five in a row in the Big East, I think you can win four in a row in the Southern," Shulman said. "The only time (playing that many games) is a disadvantage is in the fourth game, but who cares.

"On the fourth night if you can't find some way to get something done with that on the line, you don't deserve to win."

Bell is excited to play the extra day, which for the Mocs will be an 8:30 p.m. ET tip against Georgia Southern on Friday night. 

Coaches and players alike agree the Saturday night quarterfinal contests usually benefit the team that already has a game under its belt.

"I like it because in basketball when you get hot, the sooner you play the better you do. If we play and then take a few days off, that heat may rub off a little bit," Bell said.

Of course, it also helps that the pressure is already off the Mocs this weekend. The first 20-loss season and winless road record in the program's Division I era pretty much popped any expectations for a postseason run.

But with the calendar now turned to March, Bell's ready to believe in just about anything.

"Being the six seed coming in, there's no pressure," he said. "Last year we played at home and we were so worried and thinking 'Man, I hope I play well.' Now it's kind of more eager, like 'Let's get out there and do this. Let's get out there and change history.'

"That's the best part. History is made to be broken and changed, so that's what we're going to do."

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