Behind the scenes of the NCAA Tournament there was some CIT and NIT action yesterday as well, including a matchup of two programs that like to run and play offense (and haven’t known this type of winning for awhile).
CIT: UMBC 87, Saint Francis U. 79
Not surprisingly, this game was a fast, offense based shootout. There were 73 possessions, so despite falling behind by eight points in the first half SFU had some chances to make a comeback. UMBC though just kept scoring. Will Darley led Ryan Odom’s squad with 30 points on 9-16 shooting from the field, including 5-9 from three. KJ Maura added 13 points and 5 assists, while Jarius Lyles had a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. UMBC also dominated the defensive glass with 30 defensive rebounds. This victory over Saint Francis U. gave UMBC 20 wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season when the Retrievers went to the NCAA Tournament. Odom will now wait to see what team UMBC draws in the quarterfinals.
Saint Francis U. had a balanced scoring attack in its final game of the season. The Red Flash received 16 points from Isaiah Blackmon, 14 from both Jamaal King and Josh Nebo, and 11 from Keith Braxton. SFU scored 1.08 points per possession, certainly good enough to win if the defense had been a little sturdier. The Red Flash’s 17 wins is the most in a season since they had 17 wins during the 1997-98 season, albeit in seven fewer games. The future looks bright for Rob Krimmel’s team assuming everyone sticks around Loretto, PA. Just two players who played on Saturday are seniors, Georgios Angelou and Patrick Wrencher, and both came off the bench. Krimmel has shown an excellent ability to convince under-looked but talented players to come to Loretto. If he can find a few more the Red Flash might be able to reach new heights, and potentially challenge for an NEC crown in 2017-18.
Who is left? The only two teams that are left playing basketball that we’re following are UMBC and Saint Peter’s in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Expect the season ending post as soon as those two teams fall. (Which may take awhile.) Considering the NCAA Tournament East Regional and NIT semis and finals will be coming through Madison Square Garden soon we may have coverage of those events as well.
Notes: Brad Underwood went from Oklahoma St. to Illinois after spending just one season with the Cowboys. … Syracuse lost in the second round of the NIT to Ole Miss at the Carrier Dome, 85-80. The 5 seed Rebels will now host a regional final against the winner of today’s game between Georgia Tech and Belmont. … Northwestern’s first ever NCAA Tournament appearance ended with a 79-73 loss to Gonzaga that had some controversy attached. … Butler and Xavier are the last two Big East teams standing, as Villanova fell to Wisconsin. … The ACC lost all three NCAA Tournament games its teams played on Saturday; Louisville, North Carolina and Duke are hoping for better results today. … Former St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is among the people being considered for the University of Washington job. … Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos was on TNT yesterday as a commentator and was great.
Graphic: Justin Robinson had an awesome senior season for Monmouth and here’s just more proof. The players with the most KenPom Game MVPs this season. We’ll see if any of the players still playing (Frank Mason, Sindarius Thornwell, Derrick Walton, Nigel Williams-Goss) can pass Robinson by season’s end. (P.S. It’s not too late to subscribe to KenPom.)