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Here is the bracket. We have a tough draw, as we play arguably the best team in the first round. The Seton Hall Pirates are 1-1, losing by 6 on the road to a good Temple game and easily defeating Cornell at home. They barely missed the NCAA tournament last year, and are picked 11th out of 16 in the super-competitive Big East. They are in the first year of new coach Kevin Willard, but they start 3 seniors and 2 juniors. If we win we won’t play again till Sunday night, but if we lose, we play again Saturday. It would be nice to have that day of rest before facing either Iowa or Xavier.
Iowa is also in the first year of new coach Fran McCaffery. He is in the process of trying to implement a more up-tempo style of play similiar to what we run. Cully Payne, former Alabama signee, is their starting poing guard. Payne signed under Gottfried but asked for his release when Gottfried was let go. Iowa is 1-1, bouncing back from a loss to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits to beat La-Monroe 68-40. Iowa returns most of its team from last year’s disappointing 10-22 season.
Xavier, our other possible second round opponent, is 2-0 but has not been overly impressive so far. They needed overtime to beat IPFW (Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne) and beat Western Michigan 68-65. They lost their final exhibition game to Bellarmine. They were 26-9 last year, and one of only two teams in the sweet 16 the last 3 straight years. They have been to the NCAA tournament 5 years in a row. They return 11 players from last year’s team, including 3 starters. Despite their slow start, I suspect they would be a difficult matchup for us.
The other side of the bracket features Clemson, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, and Saint Peters. Clemson is also in the first year with a new head coach. Last year they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They return 12 players from that team. The Tigers are 2-0 with wins over Western Carolina and Wofford.
The Saint Peter’s Peacocks are 0-1, losing 55-30 to Robert Morris. I think it’s safe to say they suck.
The Long Beach State 49ers are 1-1, losing their homecoming and season opener to San Diego State, but bouncing back to beat San Francisco State. They made it to the Big West Championship game last year, return 4 starters, and are picked 2nd in their conference this year. Snoop Dogg’s hometown team will play Clemson in the first round, an interesting rematch of a 10 point Clemson win on a neutral court last season.
Old Dominion is 1-1, losing to Georgetown by only 3 and beating High Point convincingly. Coach Blaine Taylor is in his 10th year at ODU where he has won fairly consistently. They return 4 starters from last year’s CAA Championship team that was eleminated in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. While not a big name school, the Monarchs are definitely a team to watch in this tournament. They are a very good team, and they essentially get a first round bye against St. Peters.
I predict we make it to the championship game and lose a close one to Old Dominion. Our first game is Friday afternoon at 7pm Atlantic time (5pm Central) against Seton Hall. No television coverage as far as I know. Bobbyjack and I will be there, and will try to post updates depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to: available time, sobriety, and internet access.
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