Bracket Prep: Lafayette

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 12th, 2015

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. Here’s what you need to know about the most recent bid winners.

Lafayette

Lafayette clinched its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000. (Austin Drucker / Lafayette Student News)

Lafayette clinched its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2000. (Austin Drucker / Lafayette Student News)

  • Patriot League Champion (20-12, 9-9)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #127/#197/#175
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = -0.2
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #16

Strength: Lafayette is one of the best shooting teams in college basketball, ranking among the top-15 nationally in three-point percentage (41%), effective field goal percentage (55.8%) and free throw shooting (76.5%). In fact, only one other team boasts a better mark from long distance, thanks in large part to guys like Joey Ptasinski (46% 3FG) and Bryce Scott. The Leopards’ pick-and-pop game is lethal, and big man Dan Trist (17.6 PPG) along with stretch-four Seth Hinrichs, present serious matchup problems. Henrichs is especially difficult to handle because of his size (6’8”) and three-point shooting prowess (38% 3FG). Basically, Fran O’Hanlon’s team can – and does – light-up opponents from all over the floor, which its sparkling offensive efficiency mark reflects (110.5 AdjO).

Weakness: Despite its hyper-efficient offense, there’s a reason Lafayette lost 12 games this season and finished fourth in its conference’s regular season race: The Leopards simply are not good defensively. And that’s probably an understatement, because as it stands, only 14 teams in America sport worse efficiency numbers on that end of the floor. They do not take away the three-point line (surrendering 37.6% 3FG) and despite playing zone for a good chunk of the time, O’Hanlon’s bunch is easily gashed on the interior and does a poor job of cleaning up misses (315th in defensive rebounding percentage). Just two weeks ago, Colgate shot 66 percent from the field (and 21-of-24 from the stripe) on its way to an eye-popping 1.44 points per possession in beating the Leopards by 12. Even though Lafayette was slightly better in the Patriot League Tournament, the league champs will probably struggle on that end next week.

Player to watch: Seth Hinrichs (13 PPG, 5.9 RPG). The 6’8” forward was one of the most difficult matchups in the Patriot League, able to post up and utilize the glass or stretch the defense with his outside shooting. Hinrichs’ 38 percent mark from long distance is actually down from his first two years at Lafayette, which is to say that his shot might be even better than the numbers suggest. Of all the excellent offensive players O’Hanlon has at his disposal, the senior – with good size and versatility – will be the most crucial against heightened competition in the NCAA Tournament.

Outlook: The Leopards will be a #16 seed come Selection Sunday and could wind up playing in the First Four. Either way, expect their offense to show up. Even in its 27-point loss to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in December, Lafayette managed to shoot 12-of-26 from behind the arc and score over a point per possession. It’s easy to envision a scenario in which the Patriot League champs get hot and grab a lead against their top-seeded counterpart for 10 minutes or so. And if they wind up in Dayton, there’s no reason to think the Leopards can’t win their first NCAA Tournament game in program history.

Tommy Lemoine (215 Posts)


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