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Basketball

UNT Just Won Its Biggest Sports Championship in 71 Years

Mean Green men's basketball won the National Invitation Tournament last night in Las Vegas.
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Celebrations like this don't happen often in Denton. Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

There is no friendly way to say this, so let’s just rip off the band-aid: UNT isn’t exactly the national standard when it comes to athletics.

The Mean Green are nothing to scoff at, mind you. You’re doing something right any time your athletic director can stroll into a room and deliver an elevator pitch including 16 Division I teams, 130 conference championships, and arguably the baddest defensive lineman to ever play football.

Nevertheless, despite being founded 110 years ago, UNT has all of four national titles to its name. Those championships come in one sport, too: men’s golf, during a colossal four-peat from 1949 through 1952. A hell of a run, and also the sort of thing that’s liable to get people wondering what the roadblock is for literally every other sport in every other moment in time.

So it was a very, very big deal to watch the men’s basketball team win the National Invitation Tournament last night by defeating Alabama-Birmingham in a thriller that came down to the final minute. Here’s the dagger from Conference USA Player of the Year Tylor Perry (yes, you pronounce his name like the writer-director’s):

The cynics among are reading this with a jaundiced eye because the NIT is the effectively the consolation bracket in men’s hoops. Yeah, you want to win it, but you’d also rather be any of the 68 teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament instead.

My retort to this is a simple, ever-so-loving “Get lost,” because UNT—UNT!—just won the second biggest tournament in college basketball. That’s an achievement worth celebrating for any school, and especially one whose athletic pinnacle came in the year Eisenhower took office.

There are always good vibes up in Denton. Now there are championship vibes, too.

Author

Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…
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