March Madness: East Region (Boston) Team Profiles for 2012 NCAA Tournament

Now that the field has been set, I’ll be posting team profiles of all 68 teams, broken down by regions.

Next up is the Boston region, which features regular season champs from the Big East and Big Ten along with tournament champs from the ACC and SEC.

Also see:

1. Syracuse Orange

  • Conference: Big East
  • Record: 31-2 (17-1 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 9-1
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 12-2
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut (3), Florida, Georgetown, Louisville (2), Marquette, North Carolina State, South Florida, West Virginia
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Notre Dame
  • Player to Watch: Dion Waiter (6’4” G, So.) – 12.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.9 spg
  • Bottoms Line: The Orange are among the deeper teams in the country with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.  Kris Joseph scores 13.8 points per game to lead seven players who average at least 6.6 points.  Sixth man Dion Waiters is instant offense off the bench, and he also boasts one of the top steal percentages in the country.  Scoop Jardine gives the Orange a veteran at the point, and he has posted a fantastic assist rate while also hitting nearly 55 percent of his two-pointers.  The team has lost just once with big man Fab Melo in the lineup, which says a lot about how much he has improved since a disappointing freshman campaign.  Melo has a high block rate and does a nice job on the offensive boards.  Fellow soph C.J. Fair has also played well of late and gives Syracuse yet another talented athlete in the frontcourt.  Overall, the Orange are in the Top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.  They do a great job of taking care of the ball and have a high offensive rebounding percentage.  For as good as they are on the offensive glass, Syracuse as just as bad on the defensive end.  They rank 341st in defensive rebounding percentage, and they allow opponents to rebounding nearly 39 percent of their misses.  Other than that, the Orange are fantastic in all facets on the defensive end.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Record: 27-7 (13-5 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 6-4
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 10-6
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Duke, Florida, Indiana, Lamar, Michigan (2), Michigan State, Purdue (2), Wisconsin
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State (2), Wisconsin
  • Player to Watch: Jared Sullinger (6’9” C, So.) – 17.6  ppg, 9.3 rpg, 53.9 FG%
  • Bottoms Line: The Buckeyes had a somewhat disappointing season but still finished in a first-place tie for the Big Ten title and made it to the conference championship game.  The quartet of Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, William Buford, and Aaron Craft do the heavy lifting for Ohio State, and they have routinely gotten little production from their bench.  Sullinger had another solid season and is a load in the post and on the glass.  He consistently puts pressure on opposing defenses and boasts a solid free throw rate.  Thomas has stepped up with an outstanding sophomore year, hitting over 61 percent from two-point range and scoring over 15 points per game.  Buford has been somewhat inconsistent, and the Buckeyes are a different basketball team when he is on his game.  The point guard position is in good hands with Craft, who has a solid assist rate and is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country.  Interestingly enough, Ohio State finished the season first in both offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom, which in some ways bodes well for their tournament hopes.  They Buckeyes have really missed the shooting of Jon Diebler and David Lighty, as they are making just 32.5 percent from beyond the arc.  They do rank 12th in two-point shooting percentage and take great care of the basketball.  Defensively, OSU rarely allows offensive rebounds and does a nice job keeping their opponents off the line.  They also rank in the Top 60 in turnover rate and effective field goal percentage defense.  Ultimately, Ohio State’s key to a deep NCAA run is the play of Buford who needs to find his shooting stroke as his final trip to the Big Dance begins.

3. Florida State Seminoles

  • Conference: ACC
  • Record: 24-9 (12-4 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 8-2
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-5
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Duke (2), North Carolina (2), North Carolina State, Virginia (2)
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Harvard, Michigan State
  • Player to Watch: Michael Snaer (6’5” G, Jr.) – 14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, 42.2 3P%
  • Bottoms Line: The Noles somehow managed to beat Duke and North Carolina twice in the same season in which they lost to a pair of Ivy League schools.  Still, Florida State has been a different team since losing to Clemson, winning 15 of their last 18 games.  Leonard Hamilton’s squad is strong on the defensive end, which is no surprise.  A high block percentage has helped them to the 12th-best two-point defense, and they also do a decent job of forcing turnovers.  On the offensive end, they rank 324th in turnover rate, which is obviously a bit of a concern.  However, the offense has continued to improve this season, and they are just outside of the Top 50 in offensive rebounding percentage.  Junior guard Michael Snaer has been one of the nation’s most improved players.  His three-point shooting has risen dramatically, and he has hit a number of clutch shots for the Noles.  Backcourt mate Ian Miller missed the first semester, but he has played well since returning and is averaging 11.0 points.  On the interior, Bernard James shoots over 60 percent from the floor and has strong rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor.  He is also a terrific shot-blocker and his presence deters opponents from attacking the rim.  Four other players score at least 6.6 points per game, including Xavier Gibson, who is a relentless rebounder, and Luke Loucks, who dished out 13 assists in the ACC Championship game.  Based on their recent play, the Noles might be a trendy pick to make a Final Four run.

4. Wisconsin Badgers

  • Conference: Big Ten
  • Record: 24-9 (12-6 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 6-4
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 6-7
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU, Indiana (2), Ohio State, Purdue, UNLV
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Marquette, Michigan, Michigan State (3), North Carolina, Ohio State
  • Player to Watch: Jordan Taylor (G, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.0
  • Bottoms Line: As has become customary, the Badgers are among the most efficient teams on the defensive end.  They rank in the Top 10 in both two- and three-point defense and in the Top 50 in defensive rebounding percentage and opponents’ free throw rate.  The team has struggled on offense at times, because they are very reliant on the three-point shot.  The Badgers take just over 40 percent of their shots from long range, but the common theme in most of their losses has been poor three-point shooting.  With a low offensive rebounding percentage and a poor free throw rate, there really isn’t a plan B when shots aren’t falling.  Despite leading the team in scoring and assists, Jordan Taylor’s season has been somewhat of a disappointment.  His shooting has dropped off, and the lack of a consistent offensive threat like Jon Leuer has made it difficult for him to find room to operate.  Still, his assist and turnover rates are still impressive, and he has continued to find ways to get to the free throw line.  Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren both average better than 10 points and five rebounds, with Evans particularly effective on the defensive glass and Berggren able to step outside and hit threes.  Josh Gasser and Ben Brust are capable long-range shooters as well, and Mike Bruesewitz has struggled with his shot but still helps out on the glass.  As usual, the Badgers are content to slow the game down and limit the number of possessions, so don’t expect them to light up the scoreboard anytime soon.

5. Vanderbilt Commodores

  • Conference: SEC
  • Record: 24-10 (10-6 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 7-3
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams:
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama, Davidson, Florida, Kentucky, Marquette, North Carolina State
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Florida, Kentucky (2), Louisville, Xavier
  • Player to Watch: John Jenkins (6’4” G, Jr.) – 19.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 44.8 3P%
  • Bottoms Line: Sunday’s win over Kentucky was arguably the biggest of the Kevin Stallings era at Vanderbilt, and the Commodores are now being touted as a sleeper Final Four pick based on a number of the predictions I’ve seen so far.  While they are certainly playing better of late, this is still a team that has not tasted post-season success in recent years.  That being said, they are a tough matchup for opposing defense.  Led by sharpshooter John Jenkins, the Commodores can light it up from beyond the arc and rank 15th in effective field goal percentage.  They also do a decent job of getting to the free throw line, but they are in the middle of the pack in turnover rate and offensive rebounding percentage.  On defense, Vandy keeps its opponents off the foul line and limits three-pointers, but there are some question marks in other areas.  Five players do the bulk of the scoring for the Commodores, with John Jenkins leading the way with nearly 20 points per game.  Jeffery Taylor is a tough matchup based on his versatility, and he’s had a strong senior season.  He’s hitting over 43 percent from long range and can defend multiple positions.  Big man Festus Ezeli has been limited because of injury, but he gives the team a strong presence in the low post.  He has impressive rebounding percentages on both ends and has posted an outstanding 80.1 free throw rate.  At the point, Brad Tinsley has a high assist rate and also shoots 40 percent from deep.  Defense and depth are concerns as the Commodores set out to shed the label of tournament underachievers, but their confidence will never be higher after upsetting the Wildcats on Sunday.

6. Cincinnati Bearcats

  • Conference: Big East
  • Record: 24-10 (12-6 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 7-3
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-6
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Georgetown (2), Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, Xavier
  • Player to Watch: Yancy Gates (6’9” F, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg
  • Bottoms Line: Give Mick Cronin and the Bearcats a ton of credit, because after a slow start and then the brawl against Xavier, it would have been easy for Cincinnati to go in the tank.  However, they fought back to finish 12-6 in the Big East and made a run to the championship of the conference tournament.  Cronin essentially uses a six-man rotation, with five of those players scoring at least 9.2 points per game.  Sean Kilpatrick leads the team with 14.3 points per contest, and backcourt mates Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright both score at least 10 points with Wright leading the team in assists and steals.  On the interior, Yancy Gates is playing the best basketball of his career and finished the regular season averaging 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds.  Throw in glue guys like Jaquon Parker and Justin Jackson, and you have a solid nucleus to count on.  From an efficiency standpoint, the Bearcats have an extremely low turnover rate, and rank inside the Top 40 in offensive rebounding percentage.  However, their shooting percentages are pretty ugly, and they rarely get to the free throw line.  On the defensive end, they have been victimized on the offensive glass, but they rarely give opponents free points by sending them to the free throw line.  After such a strong performance in the Big East Tournament, the Bearcats should have plenty of confidence heading into the Big Dance.

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs

  • Conference: West Coast
  • Record: 25-6 (13-3 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 8-2
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 5-4
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: BYU (2), Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Xavier
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: BYU, Michigan State, Saint Mary’s (2)
  • Player to Watch: Kevin Pangos (6’1” G, Fr.) – 13.8 ppg, 3.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 40.5 3P%
  • Bottoms Line: The Zags were once a Cinderella story, but they have since become a perennial tournament team.  Four players score in double figures, led by freshman Kevin Pangos, who has a sweet stroke from beyond the arc and has proven to be an able passer as well.  Gonzaga boasts a number of talented frontcourt options as well with Elias Harris (13.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 50.5 FG%), Robert Sacre (11.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 50.5 FG%), and Sam Dower (8.5 ppg, 3.7 mpg, 54.6 FG%) all contributing from game-to-game.  All three are consistent contributors on the glass, and Sacre has an absurdly good 89.4 free throw rate.  The Bulldogs can shoot it well both inside and outside the arc, and they rank fifth nationally in free throw rate.  They are solid on defense as well, and they do a particularly nice job of limiting offensive rebounds against them and not putting their opponents on the line.

8. Kansas State Wildcats

  • Conference: Big 12
  • Record: 21-10 (10-8 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 6-4
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 6-8
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama, Baylor, Long Beach State, Missouri (2), Texas
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor (2), Iowa State (2), Kansas (2), Texas, West Virginia
  • Player to Watch: Rodney McGruder (6’4” G, Jr.) – 15.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 spg, 39.0 3P%
  • Bottoms Line: The ever-entertaining Frank Martin’s team was on the bubble until beating Missouri and Baylor in back-to-back games to essentially lock up a bid.  Not surprisingly, the Wildcats excel on the defensive end of the floor, ranking in the Top 25 in turnover rate and the Top 40 in effective field goal percentage defense.  They do a nice job of defending both inside and outside of the three-point line, and their block percentage is among the nation’s best.  Offensively, they rebound over 40 percent of their own misses and have been effective at getting to the free throw line, both of which have helped to offset relatively poor shooting and a propensity to turn the ball over.  Guard Rodney McGruder leads the team in scoring and has been the most consistent offensive threat this year.  Jamar Samuels, Jordan Henriquez, and Thomas Gipson do the heavy lifting inside, and all three have high rebounding percentages and free throw rates over sixty.  Guards Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling lead the team in assists, and both have eerily similar numbers.  Rodriguez has a high assist rate, and the team is at its best when he is playing well.

9. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

  • Conference: Conference USA
  • Record: 25-8 (11-5 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 5-5
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 3-2
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Colorado State, Memphis, South Florida
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Memphis, Murray State
  • Player to Watch: Neil Watson (5’11” G, So.) – 12.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.2 spg
  • Bottoms Line: Southern Miss was 20-3 in early February but faltered down the stretch going 5-5 and narrowly missing a couple other ugly losses during that stretch.  The Golden Eagles have six players who score at least 9.5 points, so they do have a balanced attack.  The problem is that  their shooting percentages are ugly, particularly from inside the arc.  USM does have a low turnover rate and has proven to be effective on the offensive glass.  On the defensive end, the Golden Eagles do a nice job of preventing offensive rebounds, but their other numbers are mediocre at best.  Sophomore Neil Watson leads the team in scoring and assists, but he shoots less than 40 percent from the field.  However, he does have a high assist rate and boasts a strong 61.1 free throw rate.  Kentucky transfer Darnell Dotson scores 11.1 points per game despite playing under 20 minutes, and Maurice Bolden and Jonathan Mills each score at least 9.7 points and grab at least 5.3 rebounds.  Based on their recent performance, the Golden Eagles would appear to be over-seeded, so be wary of expecting too much from them despite their gaudy win total.

10. West Virginia Mountaineers

  • Conference: Big East
  • Record: 19-13 (9-9 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 4-6
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 4-8
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Kansas State, South Florida
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor, Connecticut (2), Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame (2), Syracuse
  • Player to Watch: Kevin Jones (6’8” F, Sr.) – 20.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 51.3 FG%
  • Bottoms Line: The Mountaineers returned just three players from last year’s team, but those three players were the team’s three leading scorers.  Kevin Jones led the way with 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, as he bounced back from a disappointing junior season to establish himself as one of the top players in the Big East.  He logged over 93 percent of WVU’s minutes and posted strong rebounding rates on both ends.  Truck Bryant averages 17.2 points, but his shooting percentages leave a bit to be desired.  Inside, Deniz Kilicli shot just over 50 percent from the field and averaged 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, while both he and Bryant have posted strong free throw rates.  Outside of that trio, freshmen Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne have been the most consistent players, with Hinds having a slightly higher assist rate but Browne more adept at getting to the line.  Overall, the Mountaineers ranked 35th in offensive efficiency, and a high offensive rebounding rate is by far their best attribute there.  On defense, they do a nice job of keeping their opponents off the line, but they allow them to shoot better than 50 percent on two-pointers, which means they could be vulnerable to teams who pound the ball inside.

11. Texas Longhorns

  • Conference: Big 12
  • Record: 20-13 (9-9 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 6-4
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 4-11
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Iowa State (2), Kansas State, Temple
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor (2), Iowa State, Kansas (2), Kansas State, Missouri (3), North Carolina, North Carolina State
  • Player to Watch: J’Covan Brown (6’1” G, Jr.) – 20.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg
  • Bottoms Line: Six members of the Texas rotation are freshmen, so you have to give Rick Barnes some credit for finding a way to get this team into the tournament.  The Longhorns rank just inside the Top 25 in offensive efficiency thanks to a high offensive rebounding percentage and the ability to get to the free throw line.  They have really struggled to knock down long-range shots, which may prove problematic in the tournament.  On defense, they are just inside the Top 50 in adjusted efficiency, but outside of a strong two-point defense, there isn’t a lot to love.  The Longhorns rank 170th or worse in turnover rate, three-point defense, defensive rebounding percentage, and opponents’ free throw rate.  J’Covan Brown was essentially the only returnee of note from last season, and he has stepped up offensively, averaging over 20 points per game and fishing second on the team in assists.  Freshman Myck Kabongo was a highly touted recruit, and he currently leads the Longhorns in assists, scores nearly 10 points per game, and ranks among the nation’s leaders in free throw rate.  Clint Chapman, Jonathan Holmes, and Jaylen Bond will be relied upon to clean the glass, particularly with Alexis Wangmene sidelined.  All three players also make better than 51 percent of their two-pointers, but ultimately it’s difficult to expect a team so young to play well in their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.

12. Harvard Crimson

  • Conference: Ivy
  • Record: 26-4 (12-2 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 8-2
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 2-1
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Florida State, Vermont
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut
  • Player to Watch: Keith Wright (6’8″ F, Sr.) – 10.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 59.4 FG%
  • Bottoms Line: Thanks to a season-ending win by Princeton over Penn, the Crimson avoided a one-game playoff and earned their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1946.  Tommy Amaker’s squad has a number of juniors and seniors, and nine players average over 11 minutes. The frontcourt duo of Keith Wright and Kyle Casey is the strength of the team offensively. Both also have gaudy defensive rebounding percentages and are effective shot-blockers. Junior point guard Brandyn Curryboasts an outstanding 35.3 assist rate and does a nice job running the show. Laurent Rivard gives the Crimson a solid three-point threat at 39.0 percent from long range, but the team is also in the Top 30 in two-point shooting. Harvard has posted a strong free throw rate as well, which is good news for a team that makes 75.0 percent from the stripe. Defensively, they rank in the Top 30 in effective field goal percentage defense, defensive rebounding, and opponents’ free throw rate, although some might be quick to cite their competition for some of those impressive stats. Still, this team has talent, and if they can effectively slow the pace of the game, Harvard could make some noise.

13. Montana Grizzlies

  • Conference: Big Sky
  • Record: 25-6 (15-1 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 10-0
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 1-1
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Long Beach State
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Colorado State
  • Player to Watch: Kareem Jamar (6’5″ G/F, So.) – 13.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 44.5 3P%
  • Bottoms Line: The Grizzlies started the season just 5-5 with losses to North Dakota and San Francisco, but they finished the season by winning 20 of their final 21 contests. Montana is in the Top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency, and outside of a poor offensive rebounding percentage, the Grizzlies boast an efficient offense as well. Sharpshooter Kareem Jamar hit five three-pointers in the conference championship game, and he’s one of many talented gunners on a team that hits over 38 percent from deep. Guard Will Cherry leads the team in scoring and has one of the best steal percentages in the nation. Junior forward Mathias Ward  has a solid overall offensive rating, while seven-footer Derek Selvig leads the team in rebounding with 6.1 boards per game but takes over 40 percent of his shots from three-point range. Montana plays essentially a six-man rotation, so foul trouble would be a huge issue.

14. Saint Bonaventure Bonnies

  • Conference: Atlantic 10
  • Record: 20-11 (10-6 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 8-2
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 2-4
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Loyola (MD), Xavier
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: North Carolina State, Saint Louis, Temple, Xavier
  • Player to Watch: Andrew Nicholson (6’9” F, Sr.) – 18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 57.6 FG%
  • Bottoms Line: The Bonnies turned out to be one of the only bid thieves of Championship Week, as they reeled off three straight wins to take the A-10 crown.  Led by big man Andrew Nicholson, the Bonnies have a solid offense, and they excel on the offensive glass while frequently getting to the line.  However, turnovers have been an issue, as evidenced by their sub-250 ranking in turnover rate.  Nicholson carried the team in the A-10 Tournament and has terrific numbers in multiple statistical categories.  He has high rebounding rates on both ends of the floor, blocks a lot of shots, and does a nice job of getting to the free throw line.  Demitrius Conger is the only other player on the team who scores in double figures, but five other players average at least six points.  Conger makes nearly 60 percent of his two-points and has a relatively high free throw rate, as does senior Da’Quan Cook.  On the defensive end, the Bonnies finished 88th in adjusted efficiency with decent numbers in effective field goal percentage defense and defensive rebounding percentage but rather ugly stats in terms of turnover rate and opponents’ free throw rate.  The Bonnies are playing some of their best basketball right now and should enter the tournament with plenty of confidence.

15. Loyola (MD) Greyhounds

  • Conference: MAAC
  • Record: 24-8 (13-5 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 7-3
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 1-3
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Iona
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Iona, Kentucky, Saint Bonaventure
  • Player to Watch: Erik Etherly (6’7″ F, Jr.) – 13.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 53.1 FG%
  • Bottoms Line: The Greyhounds lost three of their final five regular season games, but they played well in the conference tournament and took advantage of a Semifinal loss by regular season champ Iona. Five Loyola players score between 9.1 and 13.5 points per game, and those guys do most of the heavy lifting. Erik Etherly leads the team in scoring and rebounding, with solid rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor. Sophomore guard Dylon Cormier does a nice job of getting to the free throw line, while Robert Olson has the team’s highest offensive rating thanks to his long-range shooting ability. Overall, the Greyhounds are in the Top 20 in offensive rebounding percentage and have a strong 43.0 free throw rate, both of which help to offset mediocre shooting percentages and turnover rates. Defensively, their best attributes are a decent turnover rate and strong two-point defense thanks to a high block percentage. Based on their middling offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, I wouldn’t count on Loyola pulling a huge first-round upset, but Coach Jimmy Patsos is pretty entertaining to watch on the sidelines.

16. UNC-Asheville Bulldogs

  • Conference: Big South
  • Record: 24-9 (16-2 conf)
  • Last 10 Games: 8-2
  • Record vs. Tournament Teams: 0-4
  • Wins vs. Tournament Teams: None
  • Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio
  • Player to Watch: Matt Dickey (6’1″ G, Sr.) – 16.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 38.1 3P%
  • Bottoms Line: The Bulldogs dominated the Big South in the regular season and won all three conference tournament games by at least 16 points. UNC-Asheville will be dancing for the second straight year, and they won one of the First Four games last season before falling to Pitt. Five Bulldogs average at least 11.3 points, led by Matt Dickey, who is also second on the team in assists. Thanks to a superb 63.8 free throw rate, his overall efficiency numbers are strong, and he shoots over 86 percent from the stripe. J.P. Primm leads the team in assists, while Chris Stephenson and Jeremy Atkinson pace the Bulldogs on the glass. As a team, UNC-Asheville ranks third in the nation in free throw rate with an amazing 48.5 mark, which is critical for a team that is sixth in the country in free throw shooting at 77.2 percent. They play an uptempo game, which to some extent helps to offset the fact that they rank last in the country in effective height on KenPom with just two players over 6-foot-5, neither of which plays a significant role.

About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms


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