So, here we are back again. After the CMU game, we had sort of said goodbye, but it turns out that it wasn't over in fact, and BG is playing in post-season basketball...hard as that is to believe. Yeah, it would be cool to make a run, but it hardly feels like an honor, and if we did make a run, it would almost heighten the disappointment in the season as a whole.
Coach Orr was a little defensive in his presser this week, pointing out a number of teams in the NCAA Tourney who lost their last game. Just a note....there's a difference between a 24-7 Temple team getting in despite a loss in their conference tourney and a 16-15 Falcon team getting in.
Be that as it may. We are playing in the Collegeinsider.com tournament, which is for mid-majors only, which explains the deep reach they had to make. There are no brackets. They are using what they call "the old NIT Model" which means they assign games in future rounds as they go. This is necessary because the hosting team pays to host the game, so you couldn't have a pure bracket. Also, I'd be surprised to see BG host a game.
We are playing Oakland. They are coached by former Falcon Greg Kampe, and have been a good program. They had a down year at 17-15, though their RPI is 136 (BG is 157) and their schedule was #142 (BG was 140). They won a home game against Tennessee, and but lost on their floor to OU by 2 and WMU by 15. They lost 5 times at home and lost twice to teams with an RPI over 200. Of their 17 wins, 11 came against teams with a 200+ RPI.
We haven't played them since the 07-08 season. Oakland has won the last 3 games between the teams, two in Oakland and one at BG. Coach said that we have scrimmaged them, so the team's are familiar.
On the surface, a winnable game for the Falcons. We have not played a team like Oakland this year. Starting with their offense and using conference games as a comparison, they are among the most offensively efficient teams in college basketball. They play at 70 possessions a game (26th in D1), and lead the nation in 3s made. They are 10th in 3s attempted and 8th in 3-%. They get to the line a lot, (19th in D1), and are 6th in FTs made. They are 9th in offensive efficiency (their average is 1.15 points per possession, a total BG reached only four times this season), 4th in points per game and 9th in effective FG%. This is a high-powered offensive team.
You might be wondering? How does a team like that end up 17-15? Well, basketball is a funny game. After you score, the other team always gets the ball. And that's an issue for the Grizzlies. Keeping in mind that there are 345 D1 teams, and using conference stats only, they are below 300th in defensive efficiency (#324), 3-FG% allowed (#319), 3-FG allowed (#331), FG% allowed (#331), effective FG% (#333) and points allowed per game (#336).
Like I said, we haven't played anybody like this.
Oakland is led by the leading scorer in the nation, a dude named Reggie Hamilton. He's 5'11" and a senior--he transferred from Missouri-KC. He is averaging 25 points a game, which is how much BG gets from its top two scorers combined. Nobody gets that many points without shooting a lot, and he takes 34% of their shots. Even with that, his offensive rating of 117 is pretty good for a guard who shoots that often. He is 6th in the nation in 3-FG and 1st in free throws made. He shoots 87% from the line.
They also have Travis Bader scoring 15 points a game and Drew Valentine scoring 11. Valentine also gets 7 rebounds a game (remember the high tempo) as does Fr. Big Core Petros. Hamilton gets 5 assists in addition to his scoring.
I honestly don't have a feel for how this game will go. On the surface, you would think that BG would try to slow the game down--Coach said we don't want to "play tag" with them. On the other hand, if BG is getting its open looks to fall, we might well get into a running match with them, especially with seniors playing with house money. The closest team that plays this style that BG plays is Duquesne and they have beaten us pretty consistently, but they are a lot better at it than these Oakland guys are.
From that perspective, it should be interesting to see how the styles clash. As I said, this is clearly a winnable game (Oakland is a 4-point favorite). What you never know with these lower-tier tourneys is who wants to play. Who sees it as an opportunity, and who sees it as a chore or playing out the string? That will also have to be answered, and will, one way or the other, about 9 PM tonight.