Bracket Prep: Creighton, Loyola (Maryland) & VCU

Posted by EJacoby on March 6th, 2012

As we move through Championship Week (the second half of Championship Fortnight, of course), we’ll continue to bring you these short reviews of each of the automatic qualifiers to help you fill out your bracket next week. In this post, we’ve got the MVC, MAAC, and CAA champions ready to go…

Creighton

The Bluejays Celebrate Their First MVC Title Since 2007 (Omaha W-H/M. Miller)

  • Missouri Valley Champion (28-5, 17-4)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #21/#35/#24
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +10.5
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #5-#7

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. With Creighton’s MVC Tournament victory over Illinois State on Sunday, the Bluejays sit at 28 wins and are just one win away from tying the most in its history. Given that Greg McDermott’s team has one of the best players in the country along with a talented and experienced group of complementary players, it’s not inconceivable that the school could reach 30 wins to break the record. Should Creighton advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1974, it would represent the culmination of a year that CU fans, some of the best in college basketball, have dreamed of for some time. This team is capable of getting there.
  2. The primary reason they’re capable has a lot to do with the scoring wunderkind known as the coach’s son, Doug McDermott. The sophomore wing can quite literally score from anywhere on the court — his 23.2 PPG includes a ridiculously efficient 61.2% field goal percentage (49.5% from three) and he has an array of moves by which he finds open looks all over the floor. The offense quite clearly runs through him, but his supporting cast of guard Antoine Young (12.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) and Gregory Echinique (9.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG) provide additional punch when needed.
  3. The problem for Creighton lies with its defense. Contrasted with an elite offensive unit (#5 nationally), the defense is downright ugly (#186 nationally). Creighton could arguably end up with the biggest disparity between the two ends of the court in the entire tournament field, excluding a crazy #16 seed perhaps. This means that matchups for the Bluejays are exceptionally important because they will only win by outscoring another team, not by stopping them. Ideally, Creighton would find itself in a first game matchup against an equally bad defensive power conference team such as Northwestern or Mississippi State. Getting past that one, they’d then face a team like Florida or even Duke to give themselves a fighting chance to get into a gunner’s delight showcase with the other team. If Creighton, however, sees a team like Wisconsin or Georgetown up ahead, they’re going to have trouble breaking through for that elusive 30th win.

VCU

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ATB: Madness Ensues During Four Classic Conference Tournament Finishes Monday Night

Posted by EJacoby on March 6th, 2012

Last Night’s Lede – Not a single power conference team played on Monday night and there were only 12 total games played, yet it ended up being one of the best nights of the entire season. Why’s that? Because it was the first full night of Championship Week, in which all games taking place from here on out will come during postseason tournaments. Monday saw four conference tournament finals take place – two at 7:00 PM ET, two at 9:00 PM ET – on ESPN or ESPN2, and each game came down to the final possession. The four championships were decided by 13 total points and included three overtime sessions. There was also important action taking place in other mid-major tournaments, so let’s jump right into it…

Your Watercooler MomentVCU Returns to the Tournament

Brad Burgess and VCU Shot Their Way Back to the Big Dance (Washington Examiner/L. Alvarez)

Last year’s unbelievable Cinderella story has guaranteed itself a place in the Big Dance once again this year. Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams were squarely on the bubble heading into Monday night’s CAA Tournament final, as was their opponent, Drexel. A hard-fought game in which VCU led by double-digits for much of the game wound up being close at the end and came down to the final possession when Drexel guard Frantz Massenat’s three for the tie hit the back iron. VCU earned itself an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and there’s not a single team in the bracket that wants to face Shaka Smart’s team in the first game next week. The Rams got 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, and five steals from Darius Theus while their star Brad Burgess had just six points. Drexel, which had just eight assists compared to 18 turnovers, now must sweat it out on Selection Sunday with a very strong conference showing but some weak overall profile numbers such as the #226 strength of schedule that won’t be pleasing to the NCAA Tourney committee. Don’t be shocked, though, if Drexel ends up making it so that you’ll see both of these teams playing again next week.

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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was

  • Recapping: Now we can get on with the conference games. The early portion of the schedule gives you the opportunity to face local rivals in other leagues (Manhattan-Fordham for one) and the chance to visit different sections of the country. Frequent flier miles may be added by a visit a few time zones away. By this time, though, everyone is ready for conference play to begin. Two MAAC games per team are in the books. St. Peter’s is 1-1 and 2-11 overall. After Wednesday’s 76-67 loss to Lehigh, John Dunne spoke of his St. Peter’s team and their mindset. “We are young and early our kids did not know how to stay in games,” he said. “Now they can stay in but we have to learn about closing them and winning. It’s all a process.” Dunne pointed out the 1-1 MAAC record and the conference schedule provides a “second season. Our kids are upbeat and working,” Dunne said. “They take the MAAC schedule as a chance to start over again.” New Year’s brings new hope and resolutions. Into the MAAC schedule everyone goes, sharing those positive aspirations.
  • Player of the Week:  Brandon Penn, 6’8″, Sr., F, Rider – In a win at Monmouth, Penn tied a career-high with 26 points while setting personal bests of 15 rebounds and six 3-point field goals.
  • Rookie of the Week: Evan Hymes, 5’8″, Fr., G, Siena – Scored 22 points while handing out six assists in the Saints’ big win over Princeton.

Iona's Lamont "Momo" Jones Is A Strong Candidate For MAAC POY Honors (AP)

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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 3rd, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.

Reader’s Take

 

On-Site: St. Peters vs. Siena

The conference’s two most recent champions, St. Peter’s and Siena, tipped off last Thursday night. Defending champion St. Peter’s hosted a Siena team trying to get through injuries and searching for their identity. Sophomore point guard Rakeem Brookins is out for the season. The Saints are still not getting the services of Owen Wignot, a good inside player. Early on, the Peacocks built a 21-7 lead as yet another slow start by the Saints put them in an early hole. Down nine at the half, Siena stayed tough. Even faced with a 16-point deficit on the road with fourteen minutes and change to play, Mitch Buonoguro’s group stayed focused. The lead was built courtesy of a tough man-to-man defense by St. Peter’s. Siena ws able to slowly get back in as their 2-3 zone and a St. Peter’s dry spell open the door. The Saints drew even late, but never get the lead, which Buonoguro later pointed out as very significant. Down the stretch, St. Peter’s nursed a slight five-point lead and with less than three minutes to play. Brandon Hall, who hadn’t hit a shot all night, buried a crucial three-pointer for the Peacocks. That made it a three-possession game and proved to be the dagger for Siena. “This was a tough game,” St. Peter’s coach John Dunne said afterward. “It’s the type of game you will see a lot of in this league.”

Accolades

  • Player of the Week: Scott Machado, Iona. The senior guard scored a career high 34 points in the Gaels’ 104-99 double overtime victory over St. Joseph’s. He is just the fifth MAAC player in history to record 1,200 and 600 assists.

Iona's Scott Machado Might Win Several of These

  • Rookie of the Week: Chavaugh Lewis, Marist. Lewis had a career high 23 points in Marist’s victory over Colgate. A freshman guard, Lewis averaged 15 points in a two-game stretch.

Power Rankings

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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Nonconference play is the norm and story around the country, but especially in the MAAC. Iona’s near-takedown of Purdue raised eyes and caught attention. The Gaels rebounded to defeat Western Michigan in the consolation round in that tournament in Puerto Rico, though, so not all is lost. On Thanksgiving, naturally Macy’s Parade and turkey are the order of the day, but the Old Spice Classic tips off as well with MAAC representative Fairfield entering the eight-team field as a viable threat.

Iona Was Very Close But Hummel Saved Purdue

MAAC Honors

  • Player of the Week : Maurice Barrow, 6’5″ So. F, Fairfield. Barrow scored 19 points while grabbing six rebounds in the Stags’ win over Quinnipiac.
  • Newcomer of the WeekDonovan Kates, 6’6″ Fr. G, Manhattan. Kates scored ten points, including two late threes to help the Jaspers edge NJIT at Draddy Gymnasium.

Power Rankings

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.

Looking Back

It is generally assumed the MAAC will be wide open – mo more chasing Siena. Well guess who’s in front after one game? Truth of it is the MAAC will be a great deal of fun for fans and media, a double dose of Advil for coaches. Fairfield is the favorite, but there will be several teams on their heels. Which all adds to upsets, surprises, scoreboard-watching and great fun… except at times for the coaches.

Players of the Week

  • Kyle Smyth, Iona – The sophomore guard had a 26-point first half en route to a career high 29 points in the win at Albany. Smyth tallied a school record eight treys in that game.
  • Ryan Rossiter, Siena – Rossiter averaged 19.3 PPG and 17.7 RPG over the last three games.

Rookie of the Week

Marvin Jordan, Niagara – In a four game stretch, the 5’11 guard averaged 12.5 PPG, 3.0 APG and 2.5 APG. His 17 points in a win over Bowling Green established a new career high.

Power Rankings

1. Siena (2-4, 1-0) – Not an easy road, as the Saints lost to Butler and Princeton (in overtime). Siena drew first blood in conference play with a nice road win at Rider, however. A 22% turnover rate illustrates some of the early difficulties at this point. Their efficiency margin is -1 (100 OE – 101 DE). Despite an uptempo (72 possessions) pace, the Saints are only forcing opponents into a 19% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Ryan Rossiter, who now has a Siena record with 37 career double-doubles.

2. Rider (2-4, 0-1) – Dropped two straight tough ones at home. After losing the conference opener against Siena on Friday, the Broncs were upended by Hofstra two days later. The Broncs sport a 104 offensive efficiency rate and an impressive 55% eFG percentage. They were however, under 100 in both setbacks last weekend. A 22% turnover rate (26% versus Hofstra) has been the root of their undoing in some close contests.

Player of Note: Junior Brandon Penn scored 14 points and added nine rebounds (both career highs) in the loss to Siena.

3. Loyola (3-2) – A loss at Vermont balances a win against Morgan State at home. The Greyhounds are solid defensively, with a 93 DE rating and not too bad on offense sporting an OE of 100. An 18% turnover rate helps the offense smooth while an opposing eFG mark of 44% is a defensive key. Loyola averages 69 possessions per outing but seems comfortable at varying tempos.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward Erik Etherly pulled down a game and career high 13 rebounds in narrow 51-48 setback at Vermont.

4. Canisius (3-2) – Earned a New York split last week, dropping an 81-64 decision to Buffalo at home before defeating Binghamton on the road. The Golden Griffs are holding the opposition to 95 defensive efficiency. Turnovers are noteworthy on both sides of the ball. Canisius forces opposition into a 22% turnover rate, but on their end, the turnover rate is exactly the same and affecting the offense. The weekend is highlighted by visits to Iona on Friday and Marist Sunday.

Player of Note: Senior forward Elton Frazier scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 19 foul-plagued minutes against Buffalo.

5. Iona (3-3) – The Gaels topped Albany and Norfolk State on the road to get to .500. They have a big weekend, hosting Canisius and Niagara. Iona holds opponents to a defensive efficiency rating of 98, but the defensive eFG mark is a too-generous 53.5%. Turnovers have offset that. Tim Cluess’ club is forcing opponents into a hefty 24% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Beside Kyle Smyth’s outburst, junior guard Scott Machado had scored 14 points, paired with a career high 15 assists against Albany.

6. Fairfield (2-3) – The Stags snapped a three-game losing streak with an easy win over Norfolk State in the Hoop Group Classic at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Defense has been sound with a 90.7 defensive efficiency rating. Offensive rebounding percentage has been a strength, leading opponents 35%-28%. The Achilles’ heel to date is a 45% eFG mark. Offensively, the OE rating is coming along at 95, thanks to an eye popping 132 in the 91-56 win over Norfolk.

Player of Note: Senior forward Warren Edney averaged 18 PPG the last two outings.

7. Niagara (2-4) – The Purple Eagles dropped road games to Albany and Detroit, but remain uptempo with 71 possessions per game. Niagara’s been stagnant on both sides of the ball, but at least they take care of the rock, sporting an 18% turnover rate. Still not enough to counter a 41% eFG mark and an offensive rebounding percentage deficit (OREB Pct – Opponents OREB Pct) of -10%, so eventually they’ll have to up their scoring output.

Player of Note: Beside Marvin Jordan’s noted exploits, junior forward Kashief Edwards was named to the Legends Classic Detroit Subregional All-Tournament team after averaging 14.7 PPG with 7.0 RPG.

8. Manhattan (2-4) – The Jaspers had a rough go of it at the Old Spice Classic, dropping three games. In battling Georgia closely, they eventually came up short, dropping a 61-58 matchup. Manhattan simply has trouble scoring; their pace is in the mid sixties possession-wise but the offensive efficiency of 91 and eFG percentage of 41% are woefully below par.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward George Beamon had a consistently strong line against Georgia, 14 points, ten rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

9. St. Peter’s (2-4) – As was the case last year, good defense, not so good offense. John Dunne’s club earned a nice win over Alabama at the Paradise Jam before coming home to defeat LIU, but took a step back with a loss at Seton Hall. The Peacocks’ OE is 80 while the DE is a more-than-acceptable 96. A return to form of Wesley Jenkins making his season debut against Long Island will help. Keeping Ryan Bacon, the main interior threat, out of foul trouble will also be a positive.

Player of Note: Jeron Belin, a senior forward, hit the game-winner against Alabama and had a team high 23 points against LIU.

10. Marist (0-6) - Another struggle, even in the early going. Red Foxes have dropped all six games by twenty points or more. The efficiency margin is a whopping -36, with the OE at 81 and defensive efficiency a too generous 118. On a bright note, the conference schedule tips off this weekend and both games (Niagara on Friday, Canisius on Sunday) are in the friendly confines of home, the McCann Center.

Player of Note: Redshirt freshman swingman Anell Alexis averaged a gritty 5.3 rebounds over three games since the last update.

A Look Ahead

  • December 4: Rider gets the unfortunate privilege of a trip to the Pete to face Pitt, while Manhattan takes on St. Peter’s.
  • December 5: Niagara and Iona square off while Loyola and Fairfield match up.
  • December 8: Loyola gets a crack at George Mason, but meanwhile in conference play, Niagara pays a visit to Buffalo.
  • December 10: Fairfield meets Siena, while St. Francis (NY) and Canisius battle out of conference.
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