Time: 7:20 pm
Location: Orlando, FL
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner and Kristine Leahy
The Pack is in the Round of 64 after defeating the Xavier Musketeers 74-59 in the First Four match in Dayton, OH. The Wolfpack put together one of their best all-around performances this season by getting almost a complete team effort in multiple facets on both ends of the court. Sure the Pack has been more efficient on offense this season but increasing their performance on defense just a little, it more than made up for any drop off in offensive efficiency. Anthony Barber was sick and it effected his time on the court and Warren was saddled with two quick fouls at the beginning of the game which slowed him down but everyone stepped up until he was able to find his grove. With the win the Pack has moved on to Orlando, FL to face the Saint Louis Billikens.
Getting to know them
The Billikens have had a tremendous year in the A-10, jumping out to a 25-2 (12-0) record, with the 2 losses being a 63-57 loss to Wisconsin on a neutral court and a 70-65 loss to undefeated Wichita State at home. Then something happened, St. Louis lost at home to lowly Duquesne and stumbled the rest of the way to a 26-6 (13-3) record, including a first round exit in the A-10 tournament to St. Bonaventure. St. Louis starts 5 seniors, who are in their third NCAAT but doesn’t go very deep into their bench very often. They aren’t a very tall team either, outside of a couple of 6-11 guys, they top out at 6-6.
The Billikens strength is in their defense. It’s not shutdown, low scoring type of defense, more of a make you work extra hard for your points, make you less efficient to compensate for their own low offensive efficiency. Little things like limiting the three, good defensive rebounding to prevent second chance points, forcing turnovers, and not sending the opposition to the line much.
#5 Jordair Jet (6-1 215 SR) Guard – Jett has an amazing Assist Rate of 34.4%, which ranks #23 in the nation but with having the ball so much means he also has a lot of opportunities to turn the ball over, TORate 20.2%. Jett doesn’t shoot the three, only have 34 3fga this season but he does have a lot of two’s, eFG 50%, and draws a lot of fouls, 5.8 per 40, so he’s likely driving a lot to the basket. Oh yeah and he’s the A-10 Player of the Year, so he’s got that going for him.
#11 Mike McCall (6-0 180 SR) Guard – McCall is the shooting guard and he’s been pretty good this year, 109 ORtg, shoots as many 3’s as 2’s, an eFG 51%, and good at FT’s, though he doesn’t get to the line much. Can’t leave him alone on the perimeter.
#30 Jake Barnett (6-5 205 SR) Forward – Barnett is the least effective scoring option of the starters. He only has a 90 ORtg, barely shooting any 2’s, mainly living on the perimeter jacking 3’s and not that great at 30%. He’s okay at defensive rebounding 12.2% but has a tendancy to turn the ball over at 19% TORate.
#21 Dwayne Evans (6-6 230 SR) Forward - Evan has okay numbers, a 103 ORtg, 50% eFG (doesn’t shoot the 3), but is good at rebounding 8% OR and 17% DR, and drawing fouls to get to the line where he shoots 74%.
#51 Rob Loe (6-11 245 SR) Center - Loe is the match up nightmare for the Pack, he’s taken 123 2FGA (.593) and 115 3FGA (.296). Because he shoots so many 3’s his Offensive Rebounding isn’t that good but he makes up for it on defense where he’s grabbing 16% DR and Blocks 4.7% of shots (#238 nationally). This is where I think we need Washington guarding him on the perimeter and switching up when he goes inside. Did I forget to mention Loe is from New Zealand? Battle of the Bigs from Down Under.
#2 Austin McBroom (5-9 165 SO), #54 John Manning (6-11 240 JR), #1 Grandy Glaze (6-6 235 JR)
Glaze was getting a decent amount of playing time off the bench for most of the season but during their losing streak his time has been almost nonexistent. He’s a good rebounder and only plays around a the basket but turns the ball over quite a lot. McBroom has seen his minutes increase of late though that hasn’t meant he’s playing great, in fact it’s either good or awful. McBroom shoots a lot of 3’s, understandable for his size, and is their best long distance shooter (.355) along with McCall. Expect to see Manning more then he usually plays simply because the Pack has the size, just don’t expect a lot out of him.
Who has the Advantage?
NOTE: This is a look at what both teams have done over the course of the season, not how they have been playing for the past few weeks. Trust me I’d love to restrict it to just the last 10 games but that would require me to do that myself which I simply don’t have the time, and I still wouldn’t know where they’d rank nationally.
This is a matchup of State’s best against St. Louis’ best and the Billikens defense has been better then the Pack’s offense. One thing I noticed in the Xavier game, who was another team that was good at defensive rebounding, was the Musketeers limited State to only 20% Offensive Rebounding which is about 15% below their season average.
Now we have the matchup of facepalms vs facepalms. It’s best to avert your eyes when the ball moves to this end of the court. Hipster Cat needs to drop the pigtails and return to his hip ways.
KenPom likes Saint Louis by 2 points.
Sagarin likes Saint Louis by 3.3 points.
Vegas opened up with Saint Louis -2.5.
Its extremely difficult to know what’s going to happen. Will both teams continue how they’ve been playing over the last month? Or will one or both revert to their old ways? It’s difficult to tell. One thing the Billikens have an advantage in is not only a 5 starting seniors but multiple years of NCAAT experience. The Pack has the advantage of already playing a game and getting the first half jitters out of the way. The Billikens have TONS of bulletin board material since everyone is on the Pack bandwagon and predicting an upset.
Just as everyone will wear the same clothes that they had on Tuesday, watch the game from the same spot, drink the same drinks, I’m going to continue my official pick be against the Pack. I refuse to be the bringer of bad mojo to this team. So I say St. Louis by 1.
And who knows, maybe the Pack’s new good luck charm and several posters new crush, Kristine Leahy, will stick with the Pack for as long as they are in the tournament.
This is a great article by Giglio, way too much to highlight.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
In-depth look at Saint Louis
Q&A: Saint Louis looking forward to facing Pack
Russ Wood (TheWolfpacker.com)
Audio: Mark Gottfried, players breaks down SLU
Fred Goodall (AP)
NC State-Saint Louis Preview
Previewing Saint Louis
Tom Timmermann (Stltoday.com)
Trending down, Billikens are undaunted
Bernie Miklasz (stltoday.com)
It’s up to the ‘Sons of Majerus’
Tom Timmermann (Stltoday.com)
Loe has come a long way with SLU
Tom Timmermann (Stltoday.com)
N.C. State takes whirlwind path to play SLU