Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Because if we're in this stupid tournament and Johnny Dawkins' job isn't on the line, we might as well win it.
Stanford opens its NIT title defense Tuesday night against Stephen F. Austin in a game that should draw hundreds of fans to Maples Pavilion. Here are 10 things to know about the Lumberjacks:
1. Only one team has fewer losses this season.
Gonzaga, which is 31-2, garnered a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Memphis, which, like SFA, has four losses, was rewarded with a No. 6 seed.
2. They played an awful schedule.
According to KenPom.com, SFA's SOS ranks 333rd, and it says here the Lumberjacks' gaudy 27-4 record includes a win over something called Howard Payne. SFA finished 16-2 in the weak Southland Conference, but its NCAA tournament hopes were dashed when it lost to Northwestern State (for the second time this season) in the Southland Conference tournament championship game.
3. Still, they have a better nonconference road win than Stanford.
The Lumberjacks won at NCAA tournament-bound Oklahoma, 56-55, on Dec. 18. Three days later, Stanford won at Northwestern, which just fired coach Bill Carmody after 13 mediocre seasons.
4. Taylor Smith is their best player.
The 6-6 senior forward averages 15.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Smith has recorded a double-double in six of SFA's last eight games, including three straight.
5. Their coach, Danny Kaspar, has been to the NCAA tournament.
Kaspar has led SFA to seven 20-win seasons in his 13 years on the job, but his only NCAA tournament appearance came in 2008-09. That's one more NCAA tournament appearance than you know who.
6. They rebound well and play great defense.
SFA ranks 12th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Stanford ranks 62nd. The Lumberjacks have allowed their opponent to score at least 60 points seven times this season and they're 4-3 in those games. SFA has held 63 consecutive opponents to fewer than 70 points and their +7.3 rebounding margin ranks 12th in the country.
7. They struggle offensively.
SFA ranks 28th in field goal percentage, but their adjusted offensive efficiency ranks 215th.
8. They've never played Stanford.
This isn't the first time Stanford has played a team nicknamed the Lumberjacks, however. (Who's excited for Lumberjack/Tree puns? Oh, that clever NIT selection committee...) The Cardinal knocked off Northern Arizona in 2008-09. SFA's last game against a Pac-12 team was in 2011, when it lost at Oregon, 55-45.
9. They don't shoot free throws well.
As a team, SFA shoots 60.6 percent. Smith, who shoots 69 percent from the field, is a 46 percent free throw shooter. Foul that dude.
10. Spike Dykes -- the father of new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes -- played center on the football team at SFA.
So there's that.
Time to get pissed off for 69th place!