Bracket Prep: American UniversityPosted by Bennet Hayes on March 13th, 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. There’s a brief respite in the auto-bid collection coming before the weekend, but one more automatic berth was earned on Wednesday night. Here’s what you need to know about the most recent bid winner.
- Patriot League Champion (20-12, 16-5)
- RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #135/#100/#125
- Adjusted Scoring Margin = +3.9
- Likely NCAA Seed: #14-#15
Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.
- American’s victory over Boston University in the Patriot League title game should count as a mild upset, but some might argue that the league’s best team will now be playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers won the regular season title by two games and have a sterling RPI figure of 82, but American is a full 35 slots ahead of BU in Ken Pom’s efficiency ratings. Either would have been one of the better Patriot League representatives in recent years, but in holding BU to just 36 points, it was American and their shutdown defense (49th nationally in defensive efficiency) that carried the day in Boston.
- In browsing through the statistical profiles of auto-bid winners from the smaller conferences, you are more than likely going to a find a slew of stats that fall far closer to average than they do either extreme. I’ll put things mildly and say that this is not the case with American. Tempo-wise, Mike Brennan’s team is the ninth-slowest team in the country, yet they also turn the ball over more frequently than all but eight teams in D-I. That extreme turnover rate is mainly to blame for the pedestrian team offensive rating of 103.2 (198th in the country), because the Eagles are sixth best in all the land when it comes to effective field goal percentage. Put differently, the 198th best offense is better than 345 teams when they actually get to shoot the ball. Staggering. Included in that efficient shooting is a 38.2% mark from three-point range, as well as a dazzling 55.7% effort from two point range – the seventh-best percentage in the country. It all sums out to below average offensive efficiency, but man, what a creative way to get there!
- The inside/outside anchors for this team are senior Tony Wroblicky (12.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG) and sophomore Jesse Reed (14.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG). The 6’10” Wroblicky scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots in last night’s title game. He does a little bit of everything – even chipping in three assists per contest – but has struggled in matchups with power conference foes this season. His teammate Reed struggled a season ago, shooting just 29% from three-point range on his way to averaging 3.7 PPG, but has turned things around quite a bit in 2013-14. The wiry marksman has made 47% of his 126 three-point attempts this season, and leads American in scoring. Needless to say, opponents will need to be aware of Reed’s whereabouts at all times.
Best Case Scenario: Round of 32. The rash of early Championship Week upsets may get American all the way up to the #14 line, where swinging a first-round shocker will be far more feasible than it would on the bottom two lines. This team isn’t perfect, but it’s easy to look past the bad and focus on the handful of legitimately elite statistical tendencies and believe that the Eagles are capable of putting together 40 memorable minutes.