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Jacksonville State's Christian Cunningham goes to the hoop against Belmont's Dylan Windler during the JSU vs. Belmont basketball game Thursday night at Bill Jones Court at Pete Mathews Coliseum. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

Among the many things wrong with college basketball is that life in one-bid leagues is such a hunger game. No matter what happens between October and March, it’s March Madness or bust.

Watch highlights of buzzer-beating shots in conference championship games. The all-or-nothing reality flashes on the screen, one team erupting in the joy of “all” and the other squatting in the misery of “nothing.”

A year after Jacksonville State’s men made their Division I-era breakthrough, they’re back on the nothing side. They lost to eventual champion Murray State, a team the Gamecocks beat at home, in the Ohio Valley Conference semifinals.

JSU came back from a 20 points down to take the lead, only to see Murray finish with an 8-0 spurt.

Just like that, a promising season ends with no hope for the one and only prize that matters. The Gamecocks could end up in the CIT or CBI, but it’s not the “Dance.”

What a shame, especially when an FBI probe has made it more open than secret that so many major programs cheat their you-know-whats off. Never mind that the majors won’t play mid-majors on the road.

This was a notable season for JSU basketball. The Gamecocks finished 21-12 … 12-4 at home, 7-7 on the road and 2-1 at neutral sites. Their 11-7 record against OVC competition improved on last season’s 9-7 mark.

JSU won 20 or more games for the second year in a row, both under second-year head coach Ray Harper. Bill Jones was the last JSU coach to do that, in 1991-92, and they just named the Pete Mathews Coliseum court after him.

No NCAA bid, but schools like JSU have one pathway.


Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.