Monday, December 23, 2013

Morning News: Jerian Grant Done For The Season, California Has A Bad Day, St Mary's Has A Terrible Loss, USC Upsets Dayton & Langston Hall Stuns Ole Miss

This picture of Jerian Grant was taken during the Ohio State game on Saturday.

Jerian Grant Done For The Season This news came out of nowhere on Sunday. Jerian Grant played on Saturday for Notre Dame, but on Sunday the semester changed and he was no longer academically eligible. Grant was leading the team in points, assists and steals per game, so this is a brutal loss for a team that already would have been headed to the NIT if the season ended now. With him gone, I can say that it's pretty likely that the Irish will drop out of my bracket projection this week (I had them in the last at-large team in yesterday's bracket).

We also need to consider next season here, as Grant has more eligibility remaining. It seems pretty likely at this point that he'll transfer for his final year of eligibility.

California Has A Bad Day California lost to Creighton by 14 points here, which is bad enough, but the day got even worse than that for the Golden Bears. Before the game even tipped, they got news that Ricky Kreklow will be out for 4-6 weeks. And one of the players who is expected to eat a lot of Kreklow's minutes? That would be Jabari Byrd, who suffered a sprained ankle during the Creighton game and might also miss some time. California is already a team I had narrowly out of the NCAA Tournament, and this just makes me more confident in that projection. They're going to have to get to at least 10 wins in the Pac-12 just to be taken seriously as a bubble team.

Creighton is a team without much of a resume so far (wins over California and Arizona State along with a loss to George Washington), but they're playing very well. Depending on which computer rating you prefer, they're somewhere around the 20th best team in the country (Pomeroy actually has them 15th). The good news is that they're in the Big East rather than the Missouri Valley, so they'll have plenty of chances to build on that resume.

Saint Mary's Suffers A Terrible Loss To South Carolina I talked yesterday about the WCC's terrible Saturday and how it was likely going to cost the league a third NCAA Tournament bid. Well... how about a one bid WCC? Saint Mary's started this game like they'd been spending too much time on the Hawaii beaches. 10:30 into the game they were down 16-8, and they were down by 12 points just a few minutes later. They managed to pull the game into a tie in the second half, but just couldn't get over the top. More than anything, the Gaels just couldn't stop dribble penetration. It seemed like the South Carolina guards were playing at a faster speed, and they could get to the basket at will.

Saint Mary's is at risk of suffering from the same thing I talked about with #2BidIvy a couple of days ago: their resume is a lot stronger than the Selection Committee is going to think it is. They beat Boise State on the road as well as Louisiana Tech, North Dakota State and Akron at home. Those are all nice wins. The Sagarin PURE_ELO numbers haven't been updated this morning as this post goes live, but they were 10th coming into Sunday. But it's possible that none of those will be RPI Top 50 victories, and that's what the Selection Committee focuses on. And now they're stuck in the consolation bracket of the Diamond Head Classic. The Gaels are going to have to beat Gonzaga at least once and they're going to need a gaudy won-loss record to earn an at-large bid.

USC Upsets Dayton In Overtime Dayton had a brutal shooting day here, hitting 26% behind the arc and finishing with a 41.8 eFG%. That's their worst shooting day of the season (their previous worst eFG% was 47.7% in that ugly 56-46 win over Delaware State). The star for USC was Byron Wesley, who led all scorers with 26 points. Interestingly, it was Pe'Shon Howard who hit the game-winning three-pointer. And yes, that's the same Pe'Shon Howard who blew up in his first month as a freshman with Maryland back in 2010 and then disappeared for three years. He's not going to be one of the better players in the Pac-12 this season, but he is having the best season of his collegiate career so far.

Dayton has quality victories over Gonzaga and California, but they now also have bad losses to Illinois State and USC. They will be underdogs in their final non-conference game as well, a virtual no-win situation on the road at Ole Miss. So they're going to probably enter Atlantic Ten play looking up at the Field of 68, and will have to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament from there.

Langston Hall's Three Stuns Ole Miss The Ole Miss Rebels fought all the way back from a 16 point second half deficit, and it was Marshall Henderson (4-for-14 behind the arc for the day) who hit the three-pointer to tie the game late. But it was Langston Hall (17 points and 6 assists) who played the hero and hit the game-winning three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left.

Mississippi came into this game 8-2, but a very soft 8-2. Their best win came over Penn State, and they had a loss to Kansas State. With this loss, even a win over Dayton in a couple of weeks won't be sufficient to salvage their non-conference performance. They will have to get to at least 10-8 in SEC play to be a serious contender for an at-large bid.

Mercer has been my pick to win the Atlantic Sun since April, and they are quietly putting together a pretty good resume out of a one-bid league. They have wins over Mississippi, Seton Hall, Valparaiso and Denver, along with iffy losses to Ohio and Evansville. I have them projected as a 15 seed now, but keep in mind that a few conference favorites always fall during Championship Week. If Mercer keeps up this level of play, they'll have a good case for a 14 seed and might even contend for a 13 seed. So this is a team that might have a real chance to win a game in the Round of 64 in March.

No comments: