The Wright State Raiders came, they saw, and they conquered.
There was a brief moment, just after the final buzzer, when fans standing in the bleachers couldn’t believe their eyes.
After being down for most of the game, the No. 4 seed bravely clawed its way back, managing to steal a breath-taking win by a mere whisker.
The victory crowned the Raiders as Horizon League Champions and propelled them into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2018.
Play-by-play announcers just couldn’t keep one player’s name out of their mouth – Trey Calvin. The Wright State junior point guard single-handedly kept his team afloat through the first 20 minutes by scoring 15 of the teams’ 21 points.
Northern Kentucky dominated the halfcourt throughout the game, scoring nearly at will from the perimeter. However, Calvin’s smooth floaters seemed to consistently find their target, too.
Nearing the end, with only 22 seconds left, Northern Kentucky’s Marques Warrick drilled a 3-pointer to put his team in front at 71-70.
But that hardly phased Calvin. After helping to orchestrate a late comeback from 16 points down, he cooly dispatched a jumper from inside the free-throw line with 10.5 seconds remaining.
The Norse had one more possession with ample time to score, but senior guard Bryson Langdon’s prayer missed its mark. Now, Wright State’s trip to the NCAA Tournament will be their third as Horizon League champions, their fourth in program history, and the first since 2018.
Inauspicious season for the Wright State Raiders
While the Raiders got off to a rickety start, they finished off the season admirably, winning four of their final five games.
Wright State regards itself as fortunate for having two highly skilled guards in Calvin and Tanner Holden. Calvin’s average of 20.1 points per game places him 19th in the nation.
When it comes to free throws made and attempted, Holden (who shoots 78.2% from the stripe) is unmatched. He ranks first in both categories at 201 and 257.
Grant Basille might be classified as a power forward, but he often takes on the role of center. His rebounding work is among the best in the league, ranking 22nd nationally with 294 total boards.
Wright State’s March Madness prospects
The Raiders have automatically qualified for a spot in March Madness. Now they’ll have to wait until Selection Sunday to see what seed the committee bestows on them.
Several bracket experts, including ESPN personality Joe Lunardi, forecast Wright State as one of the lower seeds in the tournament. This would mean they’d have to play in one of the two First Four games featuring No. 16 seeds at University of Dayton Arena. Coincidentally, that venue is only 12 miles from Wright State’s campus.
CBS Sports writer and bracketologist Jerry Palm shares a similar hunch. He also thinks the Raiders will play in the First Four.
Should the Raiders play in the First Four and win, their next match-up would be against a No. 1 seed. But that doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t make it interesting.
The Sunday Selection show will air on Sunday, Mar. 13. The 68-team men’s field will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on CBS. The women’s 68-team field, meanwhile, will be unveiled at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.