Bracket Prep: Eastern KentuckyPosted by Bennet Hayes on March 9th, 2014
As we move through Championship Week, we’ll continue to bring you short reviews of each of the automatic qualifiers to help you fill out your bracket next week. The second team to gain entry into the 2014 NCAA Tournament is Eastern Kentucky, the Ohio Valley Conference Champion. Here’s what you need to know about the most recent bid winner, and if you’d like to peruse all of the previously minted conference champs, click here.
- OVC Champion (24-9, 14-5)
- RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #113/#132/#150
- Adjusted Scoring Margin = +3.4
- Likely NCAA Seed: #15
Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.
- Many folks may have penciled March mainstay Belmont into the NCAA Tournament field when they saw Saturday’s OVC title match-up between the Bruins and Eastern Kentucky on the docket, but it’s their stylistic comrades that will represent the conference in the Big Dance. Much like Belmont, Eastern Kentucky boasts an efficient offense that, 24 times out of 33 games this year, was able to overcome the Colonels’ extensive defensive shortcomings. The contrast in EKU efficiency between ends of the floor is best captured by their eFG% and eFG% against – only three teams have been better nationally in the former category, but just nine D-1 teams have fared worse in the latter.
- If the old axiom that great guard play wins games in March still holds true, then the Colonels will at least have a shot at pulling off a sizable opening round upset. Senior point guard Glenn Cosey (18.7 PPG, 4.2 APG) was an all-OVC selection this season, and league defensive player of the year Corey Walden (13.7 PPG, 2.2 SPG) is an efficient two-way player (as his offensive rating of 114.0 can attest) who rounds out one of the most underrated backcourts in America. Want more proof of this duo’s competency? Back in December, Cosey and Walden outplayed VCU’s more heralded backcourt of Briante Weber and Rob Brandenberg, keying a near-upset of the Rams (in overtime) at the Siegel Center.
- The offense is fun, and Eastern Kentucky has now won 24 or more games in consecutive seasons, but there are glaring weaknesses here that should make gaining NCAA Tournament traction difficult for coach Jeff Neubauer’s bunch. The aforementioned porous defense is one such concern, but the Colonels are also painfully undersized, ranking 325th nationally in KenPom’s effective height metric. At, 6’8”, long-maned Eric Stutz is the only regular over 6’5” who plays more than 11 minutes per night, an unfortunate reality that manifests itself in EKU’s rebounding percentages, where they rank 346th nationally on offense and an only slightly better 274th on defense. The Ohio Valley has given birth to many a March darling over the years, but the Colonels must dodge a physical, overpowering first-round foe if they hope to further that track record.