Thursday, February 04, 2016

Morning News: Miami Handles Notre Dame, St. Joe's Falls to St. Bonaventure, And UC-Irvine's Buzzer Beater

How many people knew who Anthony Lawrence was before last night?
Balanced Miami Handles Notre Dame This game wasn't really as close as the final score would suggest. Miami lead by 12 points at halftime and by as many as 20 in the second half. An 18-10 run by Notre Dame in garbage time made the final score more respectable. Miami had five players in double-digits, including freshman Anthony Lawrence, Jr, who had a career-high 18 points despite scoring just 4 total points in the 9 previous games since Christmas.

Realistically, Miami is just playing to slide up or down a seed line or two in the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame's situation is more interesting, since they are far from an NCAA Tournament lock. The Irish are now 6-4 in ACC play with wins over Iowa and Duke to go with iffy losses to Alabama and Monmouth. With an RPI that is 34th they have a Tournament resume at the moment, but will be in trouble if they can't get to 10-8 in ACC play. They have crucial home games against North Carolina and Louisville the next two Saturdays. A win in one or both would make things a lot safer.

St. Joseph's Falls To St. Bonaventure In the Battle of the Saints, the Bonnies were led by a monster 31 points from Jaylen Adams, including 6-for-12 beyond the arc. St. Joe's was too satisfied to launch threes, and scored just 22 points in the paint. But this St. Joe's team has been hard to figure out. The computers like them, and they came into this game 18-3, but their best win of the season was either their win over Temple or Rhode Island, and they still lack an RPI Top 50victory.

Saint Joe's still has an RPI that is 39th after this loss, but their resume is going to remain awfully soft unless they can beat Dayton in a couple of weeks. If they finish 12-6 or worse in A-10 play, their lack of quality wins is going to make it difficult for them to earn an at-large bid.

What about St. Bonaventure? They're now 14-6 overall and 6-3 in A-10 play, with an RPI that has slid inside the Top 50 for the first time all season up to 46th. The problem is that they lack quality wins. This is their only RPI Top 50 victory and they are 3-6 against the RPI Top 100. If they can get to 12-6 in A-10 play they'll get themselves into consideration on Selection Sunday, but they'll need an overwhelming W/L record and RPI to overcome the soft strength of schedule.

UC-Irvine Stays Alive On A Buzzer Beater On a quiet night, the most interesting finish to a game came in the Big West, where 7'6" Mamadou Ndiaye was involved in a beautiful play to finish regulation, which sent the game to overtime:
UC-Irvine went on to win in overtime, and continues to keep pace with Hawaii in what should be a fun two-team race in the Big West Conference. Both teams are good enough to earn 12 or 13 seeds in March and to be scary Round of 64 opponents. The regular season title will likely come down to their two head-to-head match-ups. The game at Hawaii is up next, a week from today. They will then make the return trip to Irvine on February 20th.

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