Well the Gaels are in the big dance; almost. They are ranked number 11 in a tie with Middle Tennessee State for a play in game to the big dance. The greater question is why did the Gaels not stand alone in the 11 ranking? Creighton, whom the Gaels beat for example, got a number 7 spot. Cal, with a far less impressive record, is in on their own accord and stays local going to San Jose. The Gaels head off to Dayton, Ohio and if they win, head to Auburn Hills, Michigan to face Memphis (6) and join the rest of their division. It makes little sense, but bottom line is they will have a chance to prove themselves. Some are arguing the Gaels once again were partially shafted by the NCAA. The Gaels need to look at this as a great opportunity to prove themselves as a threat.
This is the second straight trip for the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament. It’s also their third trip in the last four years.
Saint Mary’s finished the regular season including WCC conference play with a solid 27-6 overall record. In the WCC they went 14-2. Their only losses came from now number one ranked Gonzaga.
Coach Bennett focused all year on the Gaels defense. The Gaels in their last 15 games gave up an average of 50.06 points per game.
Statistically, the Gaels finished the season averaging 75.5 points on offense ranked 23rd in the nation. In in field goal percentage they finished 47.4% which put them 22nd overall.
The Gaels had four players in double digit scoring this season. Leading the way, was Matthew Dellavedova who became St. Mary’s all-time leading scorer in school history with a 15.8 average. Stephen Holt finished the year averaging 11.8. Brad Waldow had a 10.2 average. From off the bench, Beau Levesque managed a 10.7 average as was a solid offensive force all season.
If the Gaels can keep the pace of their game on both ends of the court, they will be a very tough team to beat.
THE BLUE RAIDERS:
Middle Tennessee State finished 28-5 this season and were 19-1 in the Sun Belt Conference. They were on a 17 game winning streak before losing March 10th 61-57 to Florida International.
On the Statistical end, The Blue Raiders finished their season with an offensive scoring average of 71.2 points per game. This ranked them 85th in the nation. From the floor, they averaged, 46.3% ranking them 40th. Statistically, the Gaels have a slight edge in both scoring and shooting percentage.
Marcos Knight leads Middle Tennessee in scoring with 12.5 points per game. No other player averages double digits, but the offense spreads points around well with six players averaging more than six points a game. Raymond Cintron is at 8.7 and Shawn Jones is at 8.6. In order to get by the Gaels, the Blue Raiders will need strong performances team-wide offensively.
The play-in game starts at approximately 6:10 pm tonight. The Game can be seen live on Tru TV.