NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheet: Getting to know Belmont

Leave a comment

Read through the rest of the Cheat Sheets here.

Conference: Ohio Valley

Coach: Rick Byrd

Record: 26-6, 14-2

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 42
– RPI: 23
– AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding?: Our Dave Ommen had Belmont as a No. 12 seed in Friday’s Bracket Projection, and they actually had a strong enough profile to contend for an at-large bid.

Names you need to know: Ian Clark (18.4 ppg, 2.5 apg, 46.9% 3PT), Kerron Johnson (13.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.7 spg)

Stats you need to know: Belmont can shoot it with the best of them. Their effective field goal percentage is second nationally, and they hit 38.0% of their threes as a team.

Tendencies: Belmont still likes to press and still wants to get into an uptempo game by using their terrific back court of Ian Clark (who was named co-Conference Player of the Year with Isaiah Canaan and defensive Player of the Year) Kerron Johnson to force turnovers. But Byrd has installed a ball-screen heavy offensive this year that takes advantage of the ability of those two veteran playmakers.

Big wins, bad losses: The Bruins have three good wins this season, beating Stanford in Palo Alto and knocking off Middle Tennessee State and Ohio at home. They have no horrific losses, but losing at Murray State and Tennessee State didn’t help their profile in league play.

How’d they get here?: The Bruins won the Ohio Valley Conference championship in thrilling fashion, thanks to this pull-up jumper from Kerron Johnson.

Outlook: Once again, Belmont is going to end up being one of those mid-majors that everyone thinks has a chance, with the right matchup, to make a run to the Sweet 16. They don’t have much size and they have a tendency to get crushed on the glass, but Clark and Johnson will not be outplayed any back court in the country — I truly believe that — and with this team’s ability to shoot it from deep at all five positions, all they need is one night where they get hot to pull an upset.

How do I know you? Despite never winning an NCAA tournament game, the Bruins have been a Cinderella candidate for much of the last decade. They took Duke to the wire in 2008, and have faced blue bloods UCLA, Wisconsin and Georgetown (twice).

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Leave a comment

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?