St. Patrick’s Day didn’t bring any luck for mid-majors, but there were some great games. Unfortunately the NYC-area teams are dropping like flies.
NCAA Tournament: Arkansas 77, Seton Hall 71
This was a painful loss for the Pirates. Leading 64-56 with 8:41 remaining in the second half KenPom gave Seton Hall an 85.6% chance of winning the game. But Arkansas came back to tie the game up at 68 with 5:15 to play. The game stayed tied at that score for nearly 2:30 of game action and then a flurry of scoring occurred at the end. The biggest call in this game came with 18 seconds remaining and Seton Hall down one. The refs called a flagrant one on Desi Rodriguez as he pushed Jaylen Barford in the back. A lot of things went into that call. First off, it’s quite likely that Arkansas had traveled earlier in the possession. Seton Hall had also tried to give a foul (as they were down one) and had failed. So Rodriguez gave a hard foul. There were two problems: 1) He pushed Barford in the back. 2) Rodriguez (accidentally it appears) tripped Barford while he was fouling him. That probably made the foul look worse than it actually was and ended up sealing the game for Arkansas. It appeared to be the right call to me. What the Pirates really needed though was for a few more shots to go down. SHU shot 39% on 2-point attempts and 35% from 3 in the game and finished at 0.99 points per possession for the game. Khadeen Carrington, who was brilliant offensively at times, led the Pirates with 22 points, though he did take 17 shots. Angel Delgado struggled with his shot, going just 4-11 from the field and scoring 12 points. Seton Hall grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, including 8 by Delgado and 6 by Michael Nzei, leading to 8 more shots than the Razorbacks, but just couldn’t convert them at a high enough rate. Nzei and Delgado also had trouble containing Moses Kingsley on the other end. The 6-foot-10 senior scored 23 points on 13 shots to lead Arkansas. Kevin Willard had now taken the Pirates to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. Almost the entire core are juniors and could go for a third straight tournament next season, but we’ll just have to see how the offseason plays out.
NCAA Tournament: Oregon 93, Iona 77
The Gaels were down 18 at halftime and never able to recover in this one. The offense was ok, scoring 1.10 points per possession, but the defense was absolutely destroyed by the Ducks. Oregon scored 1.33 points per possession by dominating inside. The Ducks shot 65% on 2-point attempts and grabbed 50% of their misses. Tyler Dorsey led the way with 24 points. There looked to be a moment midway through the first half where foul trouble to Dillon Brooks might help the Gaels get back into the game, but Dana Altman was shrewd in getting his junior forward back in the game and from there it was no contest. Jordan Washington scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his final game at Iona. Sam Cassell added 16 points off the bench. Iona heads into the offseason with a strong nucleus, including EJ Crawford, Schadrac Casimir, Ricky McGill and Deyshonee Much, but the Gaels need to find some sort of inside presence. Assistant coach Jared Grasso is a candidate for the Quinnipiac job, and will likely be up for others as well. Tim Cluess was asked about a possible shakeup after the game and said, “I thought I was being fired and no one told me yet. The way things go you never know. Coach Grasso deserves everything he gets. I root for him to get that job. We wouldn’t be sitting up here without the hard work and dedication and all he brings to this program, so I’m rooting for someone to give him an opportunity because he’s deserving of it and he’s a terrific young coach.”
Notes: Former Wagner head coach Danny Hurley coached Rhode Island to the second round with an 84-72 victory over Creighton. … Former Hofstra forward Jimmy Hall scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds before fouling out in Kent State’s 97-80 loss to UCLA. … Former UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts has already found a new home (as predicted yesterday) as the head coach of North Carolina St. … Saint Francis U. plays at UMBC today at 2 pm. … Saint Peter’s is among three teams that received a bye to the CIT quarterfinals. Those games will be played next Friday to Sunday. … In ridiculous seeding notes: KenPom #4 Kentucky will take on KenPom #5 Wichita St. on Sunday and KenPom #7 Florida is taking on KenPom #10 Virginia today.