Tim Cluess

NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheet: Getting to know Iona

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Read through the rest of the Cheat Sheets here.

Conference: MAAC

Coach: Tim Cluess

Record: 20-13, 11-7

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 97
– RPI: 103
– AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding?: Our Dave Ommen had the Gaels as a No. 15 seed in Monday’s bracket projection.

Names you need to know: Lamont ‘Momo’ Jones (23.3 ppg, 3.6 apg), Sean Armand (16.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.0 apg), David Laury (13.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg)

Stats you need to know: Iona is the 11th fastest team in the country. They are the 20th most efficient team offensively and outside the top 250 in defensive efficiency.

Tendencies: If you couldn’t figure it out from above, the Gaels are going to run and shoot and score and play the minimal amount of defense. They’re going to be in high-scoring, entertaining games. And if, in the tournament, those threes are dropping, they are going to be a thorn in somebody’s side.

Big wins, bad losses: The Gaels beat Denver, Wake Forest and Georgia early in the season, but had a stretch late in the year where they lost six out of seven, with all six losses coming by less than three points in a combined five overtimes.

How’d they get here?: That losing streak dropped Iona to the No. 4 seed in the MAAC tournament, but they beat Canisius and top seed Niagara before taking out Manhattan.

Outlook: The Gaels are talented. Their roster is littered with transfers from larger conferences — namely Jones, who started for two years at Arizona — and they can score with the best of them. The problem? Well, they don’t defend all that well, which is one of the reasons their record is as bad as it is. The other reason? Luck. A couple bounces go their way, and the Gaels win the MAAC. Worth consideration for an upset pick with the right matchup.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.


POSTERIZED: Monmouth bench mob goes insane after huge dunk

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Monmouth has arguably been the most entertaining team in college basketball through the season’s first three weeks.

Let’s start with the obvious: They’re a mid-major outfit with a 5-foot-8 point guard that headlines a talented back court, one good enough to have notched upsets at UCLA and, this week, over No. 17 Notre Dame and USC at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.

It’s pretty incredible, to be honest. They’ve managed to amass one of college basketball’s best resume despite being a MAAC program with a grand total of four NCAA appearances in their luxurious history.

But what makes this team so much fun isn’t just that they can’t seem to stop beating high-major competition, it’s that, in the process, their bench mob has become one of college basketball’s best.

Want some proof? Watch what happens after this Deon Jones poster dunk:

And here’s the wild part: that wasn’t even close to the best thing the bench did this week.

This was:


But there’s so much more.

Like, for example, the three arrows:

The touchdown pass:

The bench poster:

The heart attack:

They … caught a fish?

And, finally, the ‘OH SHHHHHHHHHHHH’:

Wichita State’s 0-3 week makes chances for at-large bid small

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

We’ve reached the nightmare scenario for Wichita State.

Having entered the season as the overwhelming favorite in the Missouri Valley, a top 15 team and a legitimate threat to reach a Final Four, after two weeks, the Shockers are in serious danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament altogether.

That’s not hyperbole, either.

Wichita State fell to 2-4 on the year after getting mollywhopped by Iowa in the 7th-place game of the Advocare Invitational. They ended up in the 7th-place game because they lost to USC and Alabama in the opening two rounds. The Hawkeyes look like the might be able to eke out an at-large berth if things fall the right way for them, but USC and Alabama are projected to finish at or near the bottom of their respective conferences. Even Iowa would do well to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.

Individually, none of those three losses are particularly terrible, and that’s before you factor in that all-american point guard Fred VanVleet sat out the trip to Orlando with a bad hamstring. They were also without back up point guard Landry Shamet in the tournament and it’s unknown when they’ll actually get Anton Grady back to full stretch. That matters to the NCAA tournament selection committee. They’ll factor it in when they determine where the Shockers will be seeded, or if they will even get an invite.

But throw in the loss at Tulsa from the first week of the season, and the Shockers are now 2-4 on the season.

And unlike the rest of the preseason top 25 — unlike the rest of the nation’s high-major programs — Wichita State won’t have a chance to load up on quality wins during league play. The Valley is better than we probably realized (more on that in a second), but it’s not like there are going to be a myriad of top 50 wins for the taking.

Look at Georgetown, for example. They Hoyas went 1-3 in the first week of the season, a stretch that included a home loss to Radford. But they also play in a conference where they’ll get home-and-homes against the likes of Villanova, Butler and Xavier.

The Shockers need to do their damage during the non-conference. They need to get the bulk of their resume put together before Valley play starts. Assuming they do win the rest of their non-league games, we’re not exactly looking at a daunting profile, either. The Shockers still have to visit Saint Louis and Seton Hall and host UNLV, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico State. UNLV and Utah should look like quality wins on Selection Sunday, but the rest of them?

Wichita State is putting themselves in a position where they may end up needing to win the Missouri Valley tournament just to get into the Big Dance, and the problem is that the Valley looks like it is really going to be tough this season. Northern Iowa notched a win over North Carolina already this year. Illinois State gave Maryland a fight and entered the season as a favorite to upset the Shockers. Evansville has two of the league’s five best players in D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius.

They’re not waltzing through that conference by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s not exactly what VanVleet and Ron Baker had in mind when they decided to return to Wichita for one final season.