Tracking a Wacky Offseason

One of my favorite things about men’s college basketball is that it is usually pretty easy to keep track of the roster. With only 13 scholarship spots, it’s not too hard to keep track of who is on the team, who is leaving, who is coming in, and things like that. But this offseason, it is much more difficult for a couple of reasons. First, the NCAA has given all student-athletes who competed in this past 2020-21 basketball season an extra season of eligibility. This allows players who were seniors this past season a chance to return for an extra year. And all of the other players who were on the roster will have that opportunity after their senior seasons as well. The NCAA is also now allowing all players who transfer from their original school to be immediately eligible at their new school (without having to sit out a year). When you combine these new policies, you have a situation where there are a ton of players now in the transfer portal, and it is very confusing to keep up with which seniors are opting to play again, which players are transferring, and which players may still need to sit out a year at their new school. Winthrop’s situation is also complicated by a coaching change, which has caused some recruits to decommit. So I’m going to attempt to give a snapshot of where the roster stands as of today (Friday, April 16), two weeks into the Mark Prosser era.

Players that are likely on the 2021-22 WU roster:
These are either players that were on the team last year (excluding seniors), or players that have committed to the program since Prosser’s hiring. There’s always a chance that any of the returning players could still opt to transfer after this point, but now that we are nearly a month after the season ended and two weeks after a new coach was named, I feel like the chances of that happening are decreasing as each day goes by. And I’m listing these guys somewhat by height/positional order to get an idea of where there may still be some need on the roster.

G Russell Jones, 5’8″, junior (+1 additional year of eligibility)
G Sin’Cere McMahon, 6’1″, sophomore (+1) – McMahon is transferring in from WCU.
G Josh Corbin, 6’3″, sophomore (+1) – Corbin entered the transfer portal, but has since announced that he’s running it back.
G Toneari Lane, 6’5″, sophomore (+1)
G Michael Anumba, 6’4″, senior (+1)
G Cameron Whiteside, 6’5″, senior (+1) – Whiteside is transferring in from UVA-Wise (D2).
G Jamal King, 6’5″, junior (+1)
F Cory Hightower, 6’7″, senior (+1) – Hightower is transferring in from WCU. Since he has transferred once before in his career (from Presbyterian to WCU), and isn’t a grad transfer, I’m not sure of his eligibility status for next season.
F Chase Claxton, 6’7″, junior (+1)
F Kelton Talford, 6’7″, sophomore (+1)
F DJ Burns, 6’9″, junior (+1)

G Nate Buss, 5’11”, senior (+1) – Walk-on

That’s 11 scholarship players (plus one walk-on) that appear to be likely on next year’s team. Of the transfers, McMahon and Whiteside should be immediately eligible. Hightower may need a waiver to be able to play next season, and I have no clue if that’s possible/likely. So if we assume these players are in place, that leaves two scholarship spots available.



Players that have committed elsewhere:
These players/recruits have committed to other schools since Coach Kelsey left and Coach Prosser arrived, so it is safe to say they will not be returning to WU.

G Charles Falden, 6’3″, senior – He entered the transfer portal, and then committed to James Madison.
G Reyne Smith, 6’2″, freshman – After signing with WU in the fall, he has followed Coach Kelsey to CofC.
F Ben Burnham, 6’7″, freshman – After signing with WU in the fall, he has followed Coach Kelsey to CofC.

Players that are not likely to come to/return to WU:
These players/recruits are not likely going to be on the roster next season, but because I haven’t seen anything definitive about where they may be going (or the window still exists that they could return), I’m not ruling out their return, no matter how unlikely. But that being said, as of now, I don’t have any expectation of any of these guys on the roster next year.

C Tom Pupavac, 6’10”, senior – I doubt he would be back on the WU roster (purely my guess, I have no info either way).
G Adonis Arms, 6’6″, senior – His name is in the transfer portal for his extra-eligibility season, and there seems to be no indication that he plans to return to WU (though I hope I’m wrong about that).
G Chandler Vaudrin, 6’7″, senior – He’s declared for the NBA draft, but that doesn’t stop him from returning if he wants (though I don’t expect him to).
G Kyle Zunic, 6’2″, senior – Some online videos that WU has released in recent weeks show Zunic working out with the team, but based on this Australian article, it sounds like he is returning home next month to pursue a pro career.
G Keyshawn Hunter, 6’3″, senior – A walk-on with the WU program the last few years, his name is in the transfer portal.
G Ben Knostman, 6’5″, freshman – Knostman signed with WU in the fall. The Herald has reported that he has been released from his letter of intent, but since I haven’t seen him land anywhere else yet. I’ll leave him in this category for now.


All of this is based on what I have been able to pull together from publicly available information…I don’t have any inside sourcing on any of this, so some of this could be way off if there are things going on behind the scenes that I don’t know about.




The Mark Prosser Era Begins

A week after we found out that Pat Kelsey was leaving Winthrop to take the College of Charleston job, word got out that Winthrop was going to hire Mark Prosser. The hire was formalized on Friday morning after the WU Board of Trustees approved his contract. Prosser becomes the sixth head coach in the Division I era of Winthrop basketball, and he returns to Rock Hill after spending six seasons as an assistant coach under Kelsey from 2012-2018.

Prosser spent the last three seasons as head coach at Western Carolina. His first season was challenging, taking over a program that had only one winning season in the seven years prior to him getting the job. He had a young team, with very little returning from the prior season, and finished 7-25, with a 4-14 record in SoCon games. The next season saw a big boost to the program, with the Catamounts finishing 19-12, and going 10-8 in the Southern Conference. This past season started promising, with WCU going 7-2 heading into Christmas, but then a COVID pause that lasted over two weeks hit the team, and they never seemed to find their footing after that, though they did end the regular season winning two games in a row over good UNCG and Mercer squads. WCU finished 11-16 this past season, and 4-13 in conference play. So for his WCU tenure, Prosser’s teams went 37-53, and 18-35 in league games. Prior to coming to Winthrop, Prosser spent a season coaching at D2 Brevard, where they finished 5-23 overall.

So Prosser’s career record as a head coach definitely won’t wow you. But digging a bit deeper, it did appear that he had WCU going in the right direction prior to their COVID pause. Now teams all over the country dealt with adversity this year, so it is a bit troubling that they never could regain any of their early season momentum, but without watching their program closely, I’m not sure all of the reasons why it never got going again. And I don’t know much about his one season at Brevard, except that he wasn’t hired until September after they had to replace their head coaching spot when their prior coach left in August for another job. That didn’t give Prosser really any offseason prep time to implement whatever he wanted to do in that spot. So again, the head coaching record definitely is something that is noticeable and can give some people pause, but he was coaching at places that don’t have much (if any) tradition of winning to begin with, and he did face some challenges at each spot that help explain why things didn’t go better.

The situation he’s coming into at Winthrop is really good, and this is easily the best situation he’s been in. There’s really no building to be done, so it should become apparent within a couple of seasons if he’s the right man for the job. He showed in his introductory press conference that he seems to have a great passion for Rock Hill and Winthrop, and that he didn’t seem to be looking for a way out of WCU until this position became available. He definitely brings a different type of energy to the job than Coach Kelsey did, but I don’t consider that a bad thing. It’s obvious by the chatter surrounding his hire on Twitter from people that worked with him in the past that people genuinely like him and support him, which is great. Building and maintaining good relationships with people is an important part of the job, and hopefully that can help bring in support, and also help on the recruiting trail (and in keeping players in Rock Hill). Being a great guy doesn’t directly lead to wins, though, and that will ultimately be what he ends up getting evaluated on the most. Time will tell if he can keep up the winning tradition at Winthrop, but I was excited to see his passion for the program.

I won’t do a deep dive on the roster, as it seems to be an ever-changing thing, but I would expect Prosser’s first priority is to meet with the current players and make sure they are all committed to the program under his leadership. A few players (Adonis Arms, Charles Falden, and Josh Corbin) have entered the transfer portal, and you would think he will attempt to persuade them to stay with the Eagles, with Falden seeming to be the most likely candidate, as he was a freshman when Prosser was with WU as an assistant. He’ll also need to re-recruit the fall signees (well, except for Reyne Smith, who has already decided to follow Coach Kelsey to College of Charleston). And depending on how all of that goes, there will still be at least a few open roster spots left to fill, which can be handled through the transfer market or by bringing in more freshmen. I haven’t followed WCU’s recruiting closely, but there could be players that Prosser and his staff were after that he may try to get to come to Winthrop.

Speaking of the staff, it seems like Prosser is bringing his entire WCU staff with him to Rock Hill. The assistant coaches are Ben Betts, Tony Rack, and Brett Ferguson. Betts has a long history in coaching. Along with his time as an assistant at WCU, he has been an assistant at Georgia Southern, IUPUI, Tennessee State, Oklahoma, VCU, College of Charleston, and SC State. He also was the head coach at SC State for three seasons (2003-2006) and he had two winning seasons in his time in that role. Rack spent three seasons as Director of Basketball Operations at Northern Kentucky before becoming an assistant at Western Carolina for the last three years. Prior to that, Rack was on the Winthrop staff, with his first season as a graduate assistant, and two seasons as Director of Basketball Operations. Ferguson also spent a season on the WU staff as a graduate assistant and then a couple of seasons as the video coordinator at Michigan State. This past season was his first as a full-time assistant coach at WCU, following two seasons as the Director of Basketball Operations. Mitchell Hill (Director of Basketball Operations) and Matt Erps (Video Coordinator) also appear to be joining Prosser in Rock Hill, and both Hill and Erps spent time with the Winthrop program in the past.

With the familiarity with the program already, and likely bringing a style of play that at least shares some things from what Coach Kelsey did, the transition to this new coaching staff should not be as tough as some coaching changes are. But I’m sure that the team will have a slightly different feel and look next year, as there will be some roster changes, and Prosser will surely have some things he does differently than Kelsey. I’m excited to see what Prosser can do in this role, and I would think that WU should be in good shape going into next season, and hopefully into the seasons going forward.

OTHER NOTES
-There was definitely a group of fans that wanted Prosser hired immediately last Friday. I’m happy that Ken Halpin did an open/thorough search, and I liked the way he explained it in his introduction today. Prosser had to earn the job, and in the process, he did that, which makes me more comfortable with Prosser being chosen for this position than if Winthrop had made a quick/immediate hire.

-In his introduction, Halpin thanked the Panthers (and specifically the Teppers and Steven Drummond). When asked about that in his WRHI interview after the press conference, he mentioned that the Panthers allowed him to use their stadium to host interviews to help preserve confidentiality during the process. With the Panthers moving their operations to Rock Hill, it is great to see that there appears to be a good relationship between Winthrop Athletics and the Carolina Panthers.

-Halpin did also confirm that as speculated in various places, that Justin Gray and Desmond Oliver were the other finalists. I’m good with the choice that Halpin made, but each of the other finalists were intriguing candidates as well, with Gray being a young assistant already on the staff, and Oliver being a long-time assistant at a variety of places.

Farewell, Coach Kelsey

On Thursday afternoon, word came out from college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman, that Pat Kelsey would be heading to the College of Charleston to become their new head coach. That was later confirmed with a press release from the College itself, and then Coach Kelsey posted a farewell letter to Rock Hill & Winthrop on his twitter feed later in the night. Given history (both with Coach Kelsey’s brief acceptance of the UMass job back in 2017, and Gregg Marshall’s brief acceptance of this same College of Charleston job back in 2006), I guess we can’t know for sure that Coach Kelsey is definitely gone, but I would have to think that a change of heart wouldn’t happen yet again. So it appears that the Pat Kelsey era at Winthrop is over, a very successful nine-year run that saw the Eagles in contention for conference championships for just about every season after his first year in Rock Hill, three tournament championships, and two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

The harsh reality of the college basketball ecosystem is that any coach that has success at Winthrop will likely be a candidate for positions that will be able to pay a much higher salary than WU can. And as was the case with Coach Marshall, WU was fortunate to not only land a successful coach with Coach Kelsey, but also to have him stay for nine seasons. So yes, there’s some mild disappointment that he is leaving, but it isn’t unexpected that this day has come, so it is now time for a new era of WU basketball to begin.

I’m writing this early on Friday morning, so this could end up being obsolete by the time you read this, but I did want to run down a few possible candidates. Please keep in mind that I have NO inside information on the coaching search, so this is just my own speculation.

The Current Staff
You always have to look at the current coaching staff when a opening pops up, especially as we don’t yet know who (if anyone) Coach Kelsey will include in his staff in Charleston.. From recent interviews I’ve seen/read, Associate Head Coach Dave Davis had no previous intentions of being in Division I before joining Pat Kelsey’s staff a couple of years ago. I don’t get the vibe that he has desires to be a D1 head coach, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him follow Kelsey to Charleston. He seems to be a great tactician and has had a ton of influence on some of the substitution patterns and other aspects of the WU style of play the last two seasons. Do I see him as the next WU head coach, though? I really don’t see it as a likely outcome. Brian Kloman has been the key recruiter for the WU program for most of Kelsey’s tenure. I’m not saying he’ll never be a head coach, but I feel like his best niche is as the primary recruiter for a program. So like Davis, I’m not sure I see him as the next coach. Surprisingly, if the next hire is already on the staff, I think the most likely candidate would be Justin Gray. Gray is the youngest and least experienced member of the staff, but I feel like this is the type of hire you make if you feel like he is eventually a head coach anyway, so you might as well jump on it early, even if it feels like it is a few years early in his natural progression. But even if I feel like he is a possible surprise candidate, I don’t think that any of the current staff is the most likely choice.

Former Assistants
There are two former assistants that have gotten some mentions on Twitter, with one being the likely favorite. Mark Prosser was on the WU staff for Kelsey’s first six seasons before taking the head coach position at Western Carolina. Prosser is the popular pick from people who were a part of the program while he was in Rock Hill, and he does seem like a natural choice, if he has interest in leaving Cullowhee. His head coaching resume is a bit mixed so far, though he hasn’t been in places that have good basketball pedigrees. His second season at WCU saw a very good turnaround from his first season, though the Catamounts fell back a bit this past season with a team that dealt with some injury issues and inexperience. Jayson Gee was the associate head coach for a season after Prosser left, and now is on the staff at Cincinnati. He does have head coaching experience in the Big South at Longwood, but he had a 42-120 overall record (19-69 in conference play). Yes, Longwood is a difficult place to win at, but during his time in Farmville, I never felt like he had that program going in a good direction. I can definitely see Prosser getting the position, and he’s probably the most likely choice. I can’t see Gee being the hire.

Gregg Marshall
You can’t talk about the WU Head Coaching position without at least addressing Gregg Marshall. He’s currently out of work after his tenure at Wichita State came to an abrupt end before this most recent season in a cloud of controversy regarding allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players and assistant coaches. If Winthrop wants to make the hire that has the most likely chance of success on the basketball court, Marshall would be that choice. His track record on the court is amazing, and he has already proven he can win (and win big) in Rock Hill. Would his recent issues be an issue on the recruiting trail? Possibly so, but I think he could likely overcome most of that. The bigger issues would be internally. Does the Winthrop administration want to deal with the likely backlash that would come from hiring someone with this much controversy surrounding him? And while I imagine that Coach Marshall would want to coach again, would he want to return to Rock Hill? I have no idea what the answer is for the second question. As for the first question, I really struggle to see WU having the stomach to make this type of hire right now. I could definitely be proven wrong about that, but I see the likelihood of Marshall being the next head coach as being very low…though there is a slight chance.

Outside of the Family
I’ve mentioned all of the obvious names that would be connected to the job. Though there are hundreds of potential candidates around the country, and honestly, I’d just be guessing as to who else may be a potential candidate. UMBC’s Ryan Odom has been one name I’ve seen floated around. He was considered a candidate for the College of Charleston position, but I am unsure if he would even be interested in coming to Rock Hill. To me, that seems like a mostly lateral move, though I think the Winthrop job lends itself for more long-term success than UMBC does. But beyond that, it could be just about anyone. I was unaware of Gregg Marshall and Pat Kelsey being candidates before they got their jobs at WU, and really knew little to nothing about them in general. So going outside the box would not be inherently a good or bad idea by WU AD Ken Halpin, as the school has had success going that route, but there’s definitely no guarantee that it would work again.

And when it comes down to it, there’s no guarantee of success with any hire that WU could possibly make. The one candidate with the most likely on-the-court potential success has major off-the-court issues that would need to be addressed. Any realistic candidate that doesn’t have off-the-court problems likely doesn’t have a proven D1 head coaching track record. As of Friday morning, I would think that Mark Prosser is the likeliest choice, but I think it far from a sure thing that he will be the one that is hired.

The Roster
This offseason was already going to be strange, even if there was no coaching change. With the seniors from this past season having the potential opportunity to return for another season, I really had no clue what next year’s roster would look like. The other WU news that popped up on Thursday was that Adonis Arms has entered the transfer portal. He was one of the seniors from this season’s team, and this news really didn’t surprise me much, regardless of the coaching situation. Going into the offseason, I thought there was a good chance that Arms would pursue a professional career, as he had already spent five years at the college level (between three schools). And if he did opt to use his extra year, I am not stunned that he may look to do that elsewhere. I would figure his options would be to try and land a spot and a high-major school to see if he can test himself against the highest levels of the college game. Or to find a place where he is more likely to get big minutes, as he likely expected to play more than the 17.4 minutes/game he saw this past season. Depending on the WU coaching hire, he could possibly still decide to return to the Eagles, though I am not sure how likely that is. And while it would have been great to get another season from Arms in a Winthrop uniform, I honestly consider any return by any of the seniors as being a bonus, and I really have no expectations about who would possibly return for another year. And who knows how this coaching hire will impact the rest of the roster, or the incoming class (which currently stands at three players…Ben Burnham, Ben Knostman, and Reyne Smith). You always have a possibility of mass defections with a coaching change….heck, look around the college basketball landscape right now, and you see mass defections from some teams that don’t have coaching changes. WU has been incredibly fortunate to have roster stability over the last few seasons. And it is probably no coincidence that it has helped the program to have players sticking with the team and growing together. Obviously it would be great if the next coach can keep most of the roster together, as the Eagles would likely be in contention again next season, even if all of the seniors decide to leave (and if any stayed, that would only help WU’s chances). But the next hire needs to be the best choice for the long term prospects of the program, not simply just to make the current roster happy in hopes they will stick around. The best case scenario is that the best long term candidate is able to also keep the team together, but I won’t be surprised if we see a bit more roster instability in the program this offseason with this coaching transition.

Deja Vu

“On paper, it seemed like this was a game that WU could win…but as is always the case when playing a team that is rated higher than you in any conceivable ranking system, and is physically stronger (even if not much taller at some positions), you have to play great to win…and you usually have to hope that the opponent isn’t on their A game.  In this case, Winthrop got punched in the mouth early, with Butler taking advantage of good ball movement, and poor defensive rotations by Winthrop, to hit some wide open threes.  The Bulldogs seemed to play pretty loose after that, and WU had to be in catch-up mode for the rest of the game.  The final score (76-64) was respectable and pretty much in line with the Vegas odds and computer projections, but WU never really threatened to win the game.” – That’s what I wrote after Winthrop’s loss to Butler in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. And aside from a few minor details, the same could be said for Winthrop’s loss to Villanova on Friday night. WU did get punched in the mouth early, with Villanova grabbing some early offensive rebounds and the Eagles coming out of the gates a little slowly on the offensive end. WU did take the lead briefly late in the first half, but Nova came out of the halftime break well, and took control of the game, and never really allowing WU a chance to get back into it. The Eagles fell 73-63, ending a magical season that saw Winthrop finish with a 23-2 record.

This is a Winthrop blog, so I naturally look at games from WU’s perspective, and try to see what the Eagles need to do in order to win a game. But I’m going to flip things around for a little bit on here. If I was the Villanova coaching staff going into this game, how would I have seen things? What would have been my best chance at a win? All of the lead-up to the game focused on the Wildcats struggling after Collin Gillespie went down, and what that meant. But it seemed like Jay Wright, having some time to reconfigure things after knowing Gillespie was out, realized that he should run his team through Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Gillespie may be the most important player on the Villanova roster, but JRE has the most high-end talent and is the most likely to be a successful NBA player. And Robinson-Earl was clearly the best player on the court Friday night, and he ended up being the primary reason why Villanova led most of the way. He got on the glass early, on his way to 11 rebounds. He was assertive on the offensive end, finishing well around the basket, forcing DJ Burns into foul trouble, exploiting Kelton Talford’s inexperience, and just dominating the game as somebody of his caliber is capable of doing. And if WU paid him too much attention, he was able to dish the ball, leading to 6 assists. And he was also disruptive on defense, blocking 3 shots, with only Burns having any real success scoring around the basket for the Eagles in the game.

Winthrop was definitely capable of beating Villanova, but the Eagles didn’t shoot well enough to win (38.9% from 2PT range, 31.8% from 3PT range), didn’t force enough turnovers (Villanova only committed 6, and WU had no steals in the game), and had to deal with foul trouble from the only guy who seemed to be able to get anything going on the offensive end, as DJ Burns led the team with 12 points, but was only able to play 19 minutes and fouled out. Change any of those factors into the Eagles’ favor, and it is a close game. But for all the things that we thought made Villanova vulnerable going into the game, they are still an incredibly well-coached/disciplined team, with some very talented players, and with a championship pedigree (even if only a couple of players remained from their last national championship). And I don’t think the moment was too big for Winthrop, but this was a roster that had never played in the Big Dance before. They had the chip on their shoulder from missing it last season, but there’s a difference between having a chip, and having that experience. And it did seem like it took a few minutes for the team to get comfortable, and that was enough for Villanova to take early control of the game. As they have done all season long, WU was able to withstand an early deficit, and was able to take the lead a couple of times, but the Wildcats executed much better in the second half, and the Eagles couldn’t make a another comeback.

This game reminded me so much of that game against Butler in 2017, even if the way that Villanova beat the Eagles was a bit different that the Bulldogs did four seasons ago. And it is a reminder that getting NCAA Tournament wins is very difficult. You’re going to be facing opponents that are very good, and that it likely takes a great WU performance, or a subpar performance by the opponent, for the Eagles to come away with the win. And as was the case in 2017, on Friday, WU didn’t play its best game, and the opponent didn’t make hardly any mistakes. It felt like the Wildcats drained every free throw they took in the second half. If felt like a lid was on the basket at times for WU. It felt like the WU defense couldn’t quite disrupt things enough to get the Eagles into transition. And that’s the nature of the tournament sometimes, and we’ll have to wait until next year to see if WU can get back, and with some of that experience they lacked this season, to possibly get another chance at an NCAA Tournament victory.

But I said it on Twitter before the game: “Regardless of what happens tomorrow night, seeing these pics make me so happy for these guys and for this program. They earned the chance to do this last year and didn’t get to have this experience. To come back and get it done again is so impressive.” I was referring to pictures of WU practicing on the NCAA Tournament floor…and I meant every word. Obviously a win (or multiple wins) would have been amazing, and the team wasn’t happy just making it to the Tournament. But Friday’s result shouldn’t overshadow an incredible season, in extremely unique and challenging circumstances. This is a special team, and I had as much fun watching this year’s team as I ever had watching Winthrop basketball. And I’ll never take a Big South Championship, and an NCAA Tournament appearance for granted…those are special events, no matter how often they’ve happened in the past, so I do everything I can to enjoy every moment of them as a fan. So yes, there was a bit of unpleasant deja vu with how this game felt a lot like the 2017 NCAA Tournament game. But the deja vu of the Big South championship with the championships of years past, and of the lead-up to Selection Sunday to past Selection Sundays, and the excitement of seeing WU’s name on the bracket, as it has been in prior year’s past…that is what makes Winthrop basketball so special.

Preview: NCAA First Round – WU vs. Villanova

2020-21 Winthrop Men’s Basketball Season – NCAA TOURNAMENT – FIRST ROUND

why-bulldogs-clukby-clipart

vs. Villanova Wildcats (Big East Conference)
Friday, March 19, 9:57pm EDT
Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN
WU (23-1 overall record;  Pomeroy/Sagarin/RPI Ranking: 91/88/55)
VU (16-6 overall record; Pomeroy/Sagarin/RPI Ranking: 12/11/17)

Livestats

TELEVISED LIVE ON TNT
Live Video – March Madness Live

Live Audio – 104.1 The Bridge (OVER THE AIR ONLY)
Live Audio Stream – Westwood One (and on SiriusXm Channel 203)

Villanova Profile

Head Coach: Jay Wright (20th season as Head Coach at Villanova)

Probable Starters:

G Caleb Daniels, jr (6-4, 210) – 9.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 43.0 FG%, 39.6 3PT% (38 made threes), 80.0 FT% – 25.5 min/game

G Justin Moore, so (6-4, 210) – 12.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, 43.8 FG%, 31.5 3PT% (35 made threes), 77.6 FT% – 32.5 min/game

F Brandon Slater, jr (6-6, 211) – 4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 51.7 FG%, 45.5 3PT% (10 made threes), 60.7 FT% – 16.9 min/game

F Jermaine Samuels, sr (6-7, 230) – 11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 47.3 FG%, 40.3 3PT% (25 made threes), 80.5 FT% – 29.0 min/game

F Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, so (6-9, 230) – 15.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, 49.3 FG%, 28.4 3PT% (21 made threes), 72.2 FT% – 34.1 min/game

Key Players of the Bench:

F Cole Swider, jr (6-9, 225) – 5.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 41.5 FG%, 38.0 3PT% (30 made threes), 75.0 FT% – 19.5 min/game

G Bryan Antoine, so (6-5, 180) – 1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 25.0 FG%, 22.2 3PT% (2 made threes), 50.0 FT% – 9.4 min/game

F Eric Dixon, fr (6-8, 260) – 3.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 45.2 FG%, 14.3 3PT% (1 made three), 70.4 FT% – 8.3 min/game

G Chris Arcidiacono, so (6-5, 196) – 0.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0 made FGs, 75.0 FT% – 7.6 min/game

G Collin Gillespie, sr (6-3, 190) – 14.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 42.8 FG%, 37.6 3PT% (41 made threes), 83.3 FT% – 33.4 min/game – GILLESPIE HAS MISSED LAST TWO GAMES DUE TO KNEE INJURY. IS NOT EXPECTED TO PLAY IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

The Eagles missed out on a chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament last season as it got cancelled, but WU was able to win the Big South Tournament yet again, and will be rewarded with a chance to showcase the program on a national stage. The Eagles earned a #12 seed (the second best in school history) and will open up against #5 seed Villanova on Friday night in Indianapolis, trying to earn the program’s second ever win in the NCAA Tournament.

WU has been quite a trendy pick to pull of the upset of the Wildcats, ever since the bracket was revealed and Seth Davis immediately said that “Winthrop is winning that game.” And I think most Winthrop fans were encouraged when they saw Villanova’s name pop up on the bracket, and of all the possible opponents that the Eagles could have had, there’s an obvious reason why Villanova is probably one of the ones that WU fans rooted for the most. The Wildcats lost their starting point guard, and one of their most important players, Collin Gillespie, a couple of weeks ago to a knee injury, and he is expected to miss the rest of the season. Since he went down, Villanova has dropped two games, to Providence and Georgetown, leading into the Tournament.

But even though the Wildcats will be missing one of their best players (and Justin Moore, another key player, has been playing through an ankle injury recently), it doesn’t mean that WU has an easy task on Friday. This is a storied program, led by Jay Wright, one of the best coach’s in the nation, who has two national championships under his belt. And while Gillespie may be Villanova’s leader and most important player, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is their most talented player, and he will be a potential problem for the Eagles. He’s 6’9″, versatile, and likely a future NBA player, and he creates matchup problems for Winthrop.

Offensively, Villanova is always very efficient, they move the ball very well, rarely turn it over, shoot a lot of threes, and generally shoot it well from outside. How much the loss of Gillespie will affect their offense will be interesting to see. Their first game without him (the loss to Providence) was their worst offensive game of the season. But they did bounce back with a much better offensive performance against Georgetown, though they did lose that game as well. WU likes to force turnovers, but Villanova protects the ball very well, even if you take Gillespie out of the equation. One thing they don’t do very well on the offensive end is rebound. And the Eagles have been great on the glass all season, so WU likely needs to win the rebounding battle, as it will be difficult to win the turnover battle, and the Wildcats are likely to shoot at a decently high percentage.

The Wildcats aren’t a bad defensive team, but I wouldn’t call them a strong defensive team either. Teams shoot a decently high FG% against them, both from 2PT (51%) and 3PT (35%) range. But they do hit the boards well on the defensive end, and they keep opponents off the free throw line. They don’t really have any natural shot blockers, so the Eagles should attempt to attack the basket when they can.

These teams want to play at different paces, with Villanova preferring to play slowly, while WU will try to speed them up a bit. I think the Eagles need to make sure that the Wildcats don’t light it up from outside, and even if Villanova starts getting hot from out there, I think that WU needs to resist the urge to try and get into a three-point shooting contest against them. WU should be able to get opportunities around the basket, and while the Eagles are definitely capable of having a hot outside shooting night, I like their chances better if they aren’t taking a ton of threes in this game. WU also needs to use its depth to its advantage in this game. The Eagles rely on their bench more than any team in the NCAA field, while Villanova is one of the least bench-reliant teams in the country. I think if WU can keep the energy level high, win the rebounding battle, and get to more loose balls, they can definitely win this game.

My Prediction: Winthrop 78, Villanova 74

WU’s Selection Sunday Possibilities – 2021

The conference championship games are winding down (and I’m going to assume that Cincinnati will not come back from 25 points down in the second half against Houston), so now we can take a semi-educated look at what we could see tonight when the bracket is unveiled. (Note: I’m not a Bracketologist, and even if I was, you never know for sure how things will shake out.  I feel like I do have a good enough feel on how this stuff works to at least present a reasonable range of things to expect for tonight, and I’ll make a prediction, but chances are, it will be wrong)

SEEDING

I’ve spent all week trying to show the likely seed that WU will get, so here’s how it ended up:

Teams WU should safely be ahead of (15):
Texas Southern
Appalachian State
Norfolk State
Mount St. Mary’s
Hartford
Iona
Oral Roberts
Drexel
Cleveland State
Grand Canyon
Eastern Washington
Abilene Christian
Morehead State
UNCG
Liberty

Those teams will take all of the 14, 15, and 16 seed spots, and it would be a huge shock to see any of those teams ahead of WU.  Also, one of these teams (likely Liberty, UNCG, Morehead State, or Abilene Christian) will have to get one of the 13 seed spots.

The Next Tier…The teams at/around WU’s level (7):
Colgate
Ohio
North Texas
UC Santa Barbara
Winthrop
Oregon State
Georgetown

These teams will likely take the remaining 13 seeds and all of the 12 seed spots. I have a very hard time differentiating between these squads, though if I had to guess, I’d put Winthrop on the slightly higher end of this group. But I’m really unsure how the committee is going to handle the Eagles, Colgate, Oregon State, and Georgetown.

Any other automatic bid team will be slotted well ahead of the teams I’ve listed above. Also, I’ve not ruled out the possibility that there’s a slight chance that WU could end up seeded higher than at least one at-large team….but I definitely don’t think it is likely.

So with all that being said, where does WU end up?  Here’s my made-up probabilities:
16-seed: 0%
15-seed: 0%
14-seed: 1% (I really don’t see how this could happen, but since I think a 13-seed is a realistic possibility, I feel like I have at least be open to the idea that WU could somehow fall to a 14)
13-seed: 40%
12-seed: 55%
11-seed (or better): 4% (not likely at all, but I think the chance exists that WU gets boosted a little higher than most people expect)

I’ll be very surprised if WU is anything other than a 12 or 13 seed, and I think the 12 is more likely than the 13, though not much more likely.

OPPONENT

If we make the assumption that WU will be either a 12 or 13 seed, that helps narrow down the pool of opponents WU may face…

The pool of possible 4 & 5 seeds (16):
Texas
Oklahoma State
Arkansas
Kansas
West Virginia
Purdue
Virginia
Florida State
Villanova
Creighton
Tennessee
USC
Colorado
Texas Tech
LSU
BYU

If WU does get a 12 or 13 seed, then I will shocked if their opponent is not one of these teams listed above.  The teams higher on the list are more possible is WU is a 13 seed, while the teams toward the bottom of the list are more likely if WU is a 12 seed. I’d say the teams in the middle of that list are the most likely in general, as they seem to be the ones that are set as either 4 or 5 seeds.

PREDICTION

After WU won last week, I said on Twitter that my prediction was that WU would face Colorado as a #12 seed.  Since that prediction is still possible, I’ll stick with it, even if I don’t think it is the most likely matchup.

WU NCAA Seed-Watch 2021 (as of the morning of 3/14/21)

Disclaimer: I am not a professional Bracketologist…just a person that has followed this stuff pretty closely for the last 20 or so years…

Here’s an update of yesterday’s Seed-Watch post after Saturday’s games…

To recap, WU needs to be better than 4 teams to stay out of the First Four (aka play-in) games, better than 6 teams to get a 15-seed, better than 10 teams to get a 14-seed, better than 14 teams to get a 13-seed, and better than 18 teams to get a 12-seed.

Winthrop’s resume:
WU has a an amazing overall record (23-1…all against Division I opponents), won the regular season Big South title with a 17-1 record (won the league by 5 games), and has a NET ranking of 55 (and in the other ranking systems that are on the team sheet that the Committee uses, WU ranks 68th in KPI, 45th in Strength of Record, 85th in BPI, 92nd in KenPom, and 89th in Sagarin).  Since the committee seems to use the various NET tiers to really help sort teams, it is important to know that WU is 0-0 in Quad-1 games, 2-0 in Quad-2 games (win vs. UNCG on a neutral court and the win at home over Furman), 2-0 in Quad-3 games (2 wins at Radford), and 19-1 in Quad-4 games (loss at home vs. UNC Asheville).  The only team that could realistically switch quads would be WU’s win vs. Furman (which barely sits as a Quad-2 win).  So there aren’t any real headline wins, though the UNCG (especially after the Spartans made the NCAAs) and Furman wins are nice to have. The UNC Asheville loss doesn’t help, but that’s the only blemish on the resume. The Eagles also have an undefeated record in road/neutral site games, which is something that the committee sometimes seems to like.

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded higher than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish below WU) (8):
Gonzaga (WCC)
Texas (Big 12)
Loyola-Chicago (MVC)
San Diego State (MWC)
Georgia Tech (ACC)
Big 10
SEC
Atlantic-10

Too close to call right now…teams with automatic bids that have very similar profiles to WU (5):
Georgetown (Big East)
Oregon State (Pac 12)
UC Santa Barbara (Big West)
North Texas (Conference USA)
Ohio (MAC)

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded lower than WU (15):
Liberty (ASUN)
UNCG (SoCon)
Morehead State (OVC)
Abilene Christian (Southland)
Eastern Washington (Big Sky)
Grand Canyon (WAC)
Cleveland State (Horizon)
Drexel (CAA)
Oral Roberts (Summit)
Iona (MAAC)
Hartford (America East)
Appalachian State (Sun Belt)
Mount St. Mary’s (NEC)
Norfolk State (MEAC)
Texas Southern (SWAC)

Leagues that are too up in the air right now to know for sure either way (2):
AAC
Patriot (only because I don’t know how the committee will handle Colgate if they win it)

Analysis:
So if I have these teams/leagues slotted correctly, WU should already be no worse than a 13-seed. The likelihood of a 12-seed has been increasing as well. Also, I’m not ruling out that the committee gives an extra little bump to WU for having such a good record, knowing they didn’t get any opportunities to get that marquee win that is missing from the resume. For that reason, I’m also not ruling out the idea that WU could be slotted ahead of a couple at-large teams (or at least possibly the play-in at-large teams), and maybe sneak up to an 11-seed. In fact, if Cincinnati wins the AAC tournament today, it will be possible for an automatic-bid team to be an 11-seed and not even be ranked ahead of the at-large play-in teams. It begins to get really tough to compare WU’s resume to the teams like Georgetown/Oregon State and the teams at the bottom-end of the at-large pool, as they generally had so many more opportunities at big wins. But I can at least feel like I can do a good job of projecting WU’s floor, and I really don’t see a way that the Eagles get anything worse than a 13-seed at this point.

Saturday’s Results:
Big East – Georgetown beat Creighton – This could end up being beneficial to WU. Georgetown was not going to be an at-large team if they lost this game, but now they are in the field. How will they be seeded? That’s the big question, and I don’t have a good feeling either way whether they’ll be slotted higher/lower than WU, so I have them as a toss-up.

Big West – UC Santa Barbara over UC Irvine – The Gauchos win, and they are another team that will be in the toss-up category. Their NET ranking is essentially the same as WU’s. They also have 2 quad-2 wins (though neither against an NCAA Tournament team, like WU’s over UNCG), but they don’t have any bad losses.

Conference USA – North Texas over Western Kentucky – North Texas is at tough team for me seed, so I have them as a toss-up with WU. Their NET ranking is just a few spots below WU. They have 3 quad-2 wins, though none are against teams expected to make the NCAA Tournament. They have 4 quad-3 losses, but three of those losses were to Louisiana Tech and UAB, teams that are in the top-100 of the NET, so not exactly bad losses. Their only other ‘bad’ loss was to UTSA, which is a much ‘better loss’ than losing to UNC Asheville.

MAC – Ohio over Buffalo – Ohio is similar to North Texas, so I also have them as a toss-up. Their NET ranking (87) is a bit worse, but they also have 3 quad-2 wins (none against NCAA Tournament teams though) and 3 quad-3 losses (none against teams outside of the top-150 of the NET).

Pac 12 – Oregon State over Colorado – Oregon State is similar to Georgetown…they weren’t going to make the tournament without a win yesterday. Like the Hoyas, I’m not exactly sure how the committee will deal with them, though I think they will be slotted below Georgetown, as they have 2 Quad-4 losses (including one to Portland…who is 327th in the NET). As for how they compare to Winthrop in the committee’s eyes? Impossible to know.

These were the championship results from Saturday that didn’t impact WU at all…
America East – Hartford beat UMass-Lowell
ACC – Georgia Tech beat Florida State
Big Sky- Eastern Washington beat Montana State
Big 12 – Texas beat Oklahoma State
MAAC – Iona beat Fairfield
MEAC – Norfolk State beat Morgan State
Mountain West – San Diego State beat Utah State
Southland – Abilene Christian beat Nicholls State
SWAC – Texas Southern beat Prairie View – Shout out to Coach Peele
WAC – Grand Canyon beat New Mexico State

Sunday’s Championship Games:
Patriot – Loyola-MD vs. Colgate – WU fans should root for Loyola-MD in this one. Colgate is a very unique team due to their limited schedule. I don’t expect the committee to seed Colgate higher than WU, but I can’t guarantee it either (so I’d probably list them as a ‘toss-up’ if they won). So I’d feel more comfortable if the Greyhounds won, as they would be a 16-seed for sure.

AAC – Cincinnati vs. Houston – Cincinnati is similar to Georgetown and Oregon State…a team with no at-large hopes from a major conference that could steal a bid. And I think their profile/resume is worse than both the Hoyas and Beavers. I’d likely list the Bearcats as a toss-up with WU if they won.

Atlantic 10 – VCU vs. St. Bonaventure – No help for WU in this one…Either of these teams would be seeded well ahead of Winthrop if they win.

SEC – LSU vs. Alabama – These teams are both safely in…no help for WU.

Big Ten – Ohio State vs. Illinois – These teams are battling for 1 & 2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament…should be a great game that has no impact on the Eagles.

WU NCAA Seed-Watch 2021 (as of the morning of 3/13/21)

Disclaimer: I am not a professional Bracketologist…just a person that has followed this stuff pretty closely for the last 20 or so years…

Here’s an update of yesterday’s Seed-Watch post after Friday’s games…

To recap, WU needs to be better than 4 teams to stay out of the First Four (aka play-in) games, better than 6 teams to get a 15-seed, better than 10 teams to get a 14-seed, better than 14 teams to get a 13-seed, and better than 18 teams to get a 12-seed.

Winthrop’s resume:
WU has a an amazing overall record (23-1…all against Division I opponents), won the regular season Big South title with a 17-1 record (won the league by 5 games), and has a NET ranking of 54 (and in the other ranking systems that are on the team sheet that the Committee uses, WU ranks 70th in KPI, 45th in Strength of Record, 82nd in BPI, 90th in KenPom, and 86th in Sagarin).  Since the committee seems to use the various NET tiers to really help sort teams, it is important to know that WU is 0-0 in Quad-1 games, 2-0 in Quad-2 games (win vs. UNCG on a neutral court and the win at home over Furman), 2-0 in Quad-3 games (2 wins at Radford), and 19-1 in Quad-4 games (loss at home vs. UNC Asheville).  The only team that could realistically switch quads would be WU’s win vs. Furman (which barely sits as a Quad-2 win).  So there aren’t any real headline wins, though the UNCG (especially after the Spartans made the NCAAs) and Furman wins are nice to have. The UNC Asheville loss doesn’t help, but that’s the only blemish on the resume. The Eagles also have an undefeated record in road/neutral site games, which is something that the committee sometimes seems to like.

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded higher than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish below WU) (8):
ACC
Atlantic-10
Big 10
Big 12
Loyola-Chicago (MVC)
Mountain West
Gonzaga (WCC)
SEC

Too close to call right now…teams with automatic bids that have very similar profiles to WU (0 as of now):

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded lower than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish ahead of WU) (15):
America East
Liberty (ASUN)
Big Sky
Drexel (CAA)
Cleveland State (Horizon)
MAAC
MEAC
Mount St. Mary’s (NEC)
Morehead State (OVC)
UNCG (SoCon)
Southland
Oral Roberts (Summit)
Appalachian State (Sun Belt)
SWAC
WAC

Leagues that are too up in the air right now to know for sure either way (7):
AAC
Big East
Big West
Conference USA
MAC
Pac 12
Patriot (only because I don’t know how the committee will handle Colgate if they win it)

Analysis:
So if I have these teams/leagues slotted correctly, WU should already be no worse than a 13-seed. A path to a 12-seed is very possible. Also, I’m not ruling out that the committee gives an extra little bump to WU for having such a good record, knowing they didn’t get any opportunities to get that marquee win that is missing from the resume. For that reason, I’m also not ruling out the idea that WU could be slotted ahead of a couple at-large teams (or at least possibly the play-in at-large teams), and maybe sneak up to an 11-seed somehow. That’s really too hard to know at this time, as it begins to get really tough to compare WU’s resume to those type of teams, as they generally had so many more opportunities at big wins. But I can at least feel like I can do a good job of projecting WU’s floor, and I really don’t see a way that the Eagles get anything worse than a 13-seed at this point.

Friday’s Results:
None of note….at least none that directly affect Winthrop. Though the door has opened for a couple of major conferences to now be in play in WU’s seeding, as Georgetown (in the Big East) and Oregon State (in the Pac 12) have both made the championship games in their league, and neither of them were at-large contenders going into the week. Also, I’ve moved the Mountain West out of the ‘up in the air’ category and into the ‘better than WU’ category above.

Saturday’s Championship Games:
America East – Hartford vs. UMass-Lowell – This game has no impact on WU…either team is likely to be a 16 seed.

ACC – Georgia Tech vs. Florida State – Georgia Tech is a slight surprise in this game, but they seem to be safely in the field, so the result of this game doesn’t matter for Winthrop.

Big East – Georgetown vs. Creighton – The Big East doesn’t typically impact Winthrop’s seeding, but Georgetown’s surprising run to the title game now adds an interesting wrinkle. WU fans should root for the Hoyas, as their seeding could end up below the Eagles (though I think it could go either way).

Big Sky- Montana State vs. Eastern Washington – Root for whoever you like in this one…neither one is a threat to the Eagles.

Big 12 – Oklahoma State vs. Texas – This should be a good, entertaining game between a couple of teams that will likely be 3 or 4 seeds in the NCAAs. So this has no impact on WU.

Big West – UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Irvine – This is a big game for WU fans to monitor. Root for the Anteaters (UC Irvine)…UC Santa Barbara is a very good team and have a profile very similar to WU’s, so I think it is a complete toss-up on who would be seeded better between the two teams. UC Irvine is also good, and has more good wins than WU, but also more bad losses and a much worse NET ranking, so I think WU would be seeded ahead of the Anteaters.

Conference USA – Western Kentucky vs. North Texas – This is an interesting matchup, and I think no matter who wins, it will be a toss-up as to whether WU will be slotted higher or lower than whoever wins, so I’m not even sure who to root for.

MAAC – Iona vs. Fairfield – Fairfield is a sure play-in team if they win…Iona may not be in the play-in game, but will likely not be much higher…so WU fans can watch this game and decide whether they want to root for or against Rick Pitino returning the Big Dance.

MAC – Ohio vs. Buffalo – Toledo losing was good for WU, but the Eagles aren’t completely in the clear. I think the Eagles would be slotted better than either of these teams, but it will be close.

MEAC – Morgan State vs. Norfolk State – Future Big South member NC A&T was the top seed in this tournament, but had to leave due to a COVID issue (which now turns out may have been a false positive)…I would have been rooting for the Aggies to win in their final season in the MEAC, but in their absence, this game loses its luster with me. Neither of these teams are expected to be any better than a 16 seed, so no threat to WU.

Mountain West – San Diego State vs. Utah State – San Diego State is safely in the field either way. Utah State is a bubble team if they lose (though I think on the good side of the bubble), but a win should put them safely ahead of the Eagles in seeding, as this would give them another good win on their resume, so I don’t think this game has any impact on the Eagles, though maybe root for Utah State and hope that the committee boosts WU over them for some reason (but I wouldn’t count on it).

Pac 12 – Oregon State vs. Colorado – Like the Big East, the Pac-12 is unexpectedly now a league that WU fans need to monitor. Colorado (win or lose), is a possible opponent for the Eagles in the first round of the NCAAs. But Winthrop fans need to root for Oregon State to win, as they will likely be seeded around the 12/13 line if they win, as they were not an at-large contender at all going into this week (and they won’t be an at-large team if they lose).

Southland – Nicholls State vs. Abilene Christian – The result of this game shouldn’t matter to Winthrop. Abilene Christian has a good record (18-4) and solid NET (83), but I see no reason why they should be seeded ahead of the Eagles.

SWAC – Prairie View vs. Texas Southern – The winner of this game is likely looking at a 16 seed, so the result doesn’t affect WU’s seeding, but I’ll be rooting for Texas Southern, as Randy Peele is on the staff there.

WAC – Grand Canyon vs. New Mexico State – The result of this game doesn’t matter to WU. Grand Canyon is at best a 14 seed, and New Mexico State is worse than that.



WU NCAA Seed-Watch 2021 (as of the morning of 3/12/21)

Disclaimer: I am not a professional Bracketologist…just a person that has followed this stuff pretty closely for the last 20 or so years…

Here’s an update of yesterday’s Seed-Watch post after Thursday’s games…

To recap, WU needs to be better than 4 teams to stay out of the First Four (aka play-in) games, better than 6 teams to get a 15-seed, better than 10 teams to get a 14-seed, better than 14 teams to get a 13-seed, and better than 18 teams to get a 12-seed.

Winthrop’s resume:
WU has a an amazing overall record (23-1…all against Division I opponents), won the regular season Big South title with a 17-1 record (won the league by 5 games), and has a NET ranking of 54 (and in the other ranking systems that are on the team sheet that the Committee uses, WU ranks 68th in KPI, 46th in Strength of Record, 82nd in BPI, 89th in KenPom, and 86th in Sagarin).  Since the committee seems to use the various NET tiers to really help sort teams, it is important to know that WU is 0-0 in Quad-1 games, 1-0 in Quad-2 games (win vs. UNCG on a neutral court), 3-0 in Quad-3 games (the home win over Furman + 2 wins at Radford), and 19-1 in Quad-4 games (loss at home vs. UNC Asheville).  The only team that could realistically switch quads would be WU’s win vs. Furman (which just dropped to a Quad-3 win, as Furman sits at 76th in the NET, one spot below the threshold to be a Quad-2 win for a home game).  So there aren’t any real headline wins, though the UNCG (especially after the Spartans made the NCAAs) and Furman wins are nice to have. The UNC Asheville loss doesn’t help, but that’s the only blemish on the resume. The Eagles also have an undefeated record in road/neutral site games, which is something that the committee sometimes seems to like.

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded higher than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish below WU) (3):
Atlantic-10
Loyola-Chicago (MVC)
Gonzaga (WCC)

Too close to call right now…teams with automatic bids that have very similar profiles to WU (0 as of now):

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded lower than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish ahead of WU) (15):
America East
Liberty (ASUN)
Big Sky
Drexel (CAA)
Cleveland State (Horizon)
MAAC
MEAC
Mount St. Mary’s (NEC)
Morehead State (OVC)
UNCG (SoCon)
Southland
Oral Roberts (Summit)
Appalachian State (Sun Belt)
SWAC
WAC

Leagues that are too up in the air right now to know for sure either way (6):
AAC (likely to be higher than WU unless a major upset occurs)
Big West
Conference USA
MAC
Mountain West (likely to be higher than WU unless a major upset occurs)
Patriot (only because I don’t know how the committee will handle Colgate if they win it)

Analysis:
So if I have these teams/leagues slotted correctly, WU should already be no worse than a 13-seed. A path to a 12-seed is very possible. Also, I’m not ruling out that the committee gives an extra little bump to WU for having such a good record, knowing they didn’t get any opportunities to get that marquee win that is missing from the resume. For that reason, I’m also not ruling out the idea that WU could be slotted ahead of a couple at-large teams (or at least possibly the play-in at-large teams), and maybe sneak up to an 11-seed somehow. That’s really too hard to know at this time, as it begins to get really tough to compare WU’s resume to those type of teams, as they generally had so many more opportunities at big wins. But I can at least feel like I can do a good job of projecting WU’s floor, and I really don’t see a way that the Eagles get anything worse than a 13-seed at this point.

Thursday’s Results:
None of note….at least none that directly affect Winthrop.

Friday’s Championship Games:
None, though there will be a ton of games on today. For WU’s benefit, root for teams like Western Kentucky, UC Santa Barbara, and Toledo to lose. And root for chaos in leagues like the AAC and Mountain West.

WU NCAA Seed-Watch 2021 (as of the morning of 3/11/21)

Disclaimer: I am not a professional Bracketologist…just a person that has followed this stuff pretty closely for the last 20 or so years…

Here’s an update of yesterday’s Seed-Watch post after Wednesday’s games…

To recap, WU needs to be better than 4 teams to stay out of the First Four (aka play-in) games, better than 6 teams to get a 15-seed, better than 10 teams to get a 14-seed, better than 14 teams to get a 13-seed, and better than 18 teams to get a 12-seed.

Winthrop’s resume:
WU has a an amazing overall record (23-1…all against Division I opponents), won the regular season Big South title with a 17-1 record (won the league by 5 games), and has a NET ranking of 54 (and in the other ranking systems that are on the team sheet that the Committee uses, WU ranks 71st in KPI, 46th in Strength of Record, 84th in BPI, 86th in KenPom, and 88th in Sagarin).  Since the committee seems to use the various NET tiers to really help sort teams, it is important to know that WU is 0-0 in Quad-1 games, 2-0 in Quad-2 games (win vs. UNCG on a neutral court, and a win at home vs. Furman), 2-0 in Quad-3 games (2 wins at Radford), and 19-1 in Quad-4 games (loss at home vs. UNC Asheville).  The only team that realistically could switch quads would be WU’s win vs. Furman (which is hanging on as a Quad-2 win, but could drop to Quad-3, as the Paladins are currently 74th in the NET which is the 2nd-lowest a team can be as a home opponent and be in Quad-2).  So there aren’t any real headline wins, though the 2 quad-2 wins are nice to have. The UNC Asheville loss also doesn’t help, but that’s the only blemish on the resume. The Eagles also have an undefeated record in road/neutral site games, which is something that the committee sometimes seems to like.

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded higher than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish below WU) (3):
Atlantic-10
Loyola-Chicago (MVC)
Gonzaga (WCC)

Too close to call right now…teams with automatic bids that have very similar profiles to WU (0 as of now):

Teams with automatic bids that will likely be seeded lower than WU (also including leagues that have no current teams alive in their tournament that should finish ahead of WU) (15):
America East
Liberty (ASUN)
Big Sky
Drexel (CAA)
Cleveland State (Horizon)
MAAC
MEAC
Mount St. Mary’s (NEC)
Morehead State (OVC)
UNCG (SoCon)
Southland
Oral Roberts (Summit)
Appalachian State (Sun Belt)
SWAC
WAC

Leagues that are too up in the air right now to know for sure either way (6):
AAC (likely to be higher than WU unless a major upset occurs)
Big West
Conference USA
MAC
Mountain West (likely to be higher than WU unless a major upset occurs)
Patriot (only because I don’t know how the committee will handle Colgate if they win it)

Analysis:
So if I have these teams/leagues slotted correctly, WU should already be no worse than a 13-seed. A path to a 12-seed is very possible. Also, I’m not ruling out that the committee gives an extra little bump to WU for having such a good record, knowing they didn’t get any opportunities to get that marquee win that is missing from the resume. For that reason, I’m also not ruling out the idea that WU could be slotted ahead of a couple at-large teams (or at least possibly the play-in at-large teams), and maybe sneak up to an 11-seed somehow. That’s really too hard to know at this time, as it begins to get really tough to compare WU’s resume to those type of teams, as they generally had so many more opportunities at big wins. But I can at least feel like I can do a good job of projecting WU’s floor, and I really don’t see a way that the Eagles get anything worse than a 13-seed at this point.

Wednesday’s Results:
None of note. Colgate advanced to the Patriot League championship game (where they’ll face Loyola-MD on Sunday). As I’ve said before, I have no clue how the committee will handle that team.

Thursday’s Championship Games:
None, though there will be a ton of games on today. For WU’s benefit, root for teams like Western Kentucky, UC Santa Barbara, and Toledo to lose. And root for chaos in leagues like the AAC and Mountain West.