Elfrid Payton

NCAA Tournament Primer: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Sun Belt Conference

Coach: Bob Marlin

Record: 23-11 (11-7 Sun Belt)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 118
– RPI: 100
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: As of Dave Ommen’s bracket update he had Georgia State, the regular season champion, as the automatic bid from the Sun Belt. The Panthers were projected as a 14-seed.

Names you need to know: Elfrid Payton (19.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 6.0 apg, 2.3 spg); Shawn Long (18.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg); Bryant Mbamalu (12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.3 apg)

Stats you need to know: The Ragin’ Cajuns can score, averaging 81.4 points per game — good for 13th nationally. They are top 100 in adjusted offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage while holding a top-30 offensive rebounding percentage rate according to kenpom.com.

Tendencies: Louisiana-Lafayette will run deep with nine guys averaging at least 16 minutes per game.

Big wins, bad losses: Louisiana-Lafayette lost to Baylor by nine, Arkansas by 13 and Louisville 39. In two losses to Georgia State, the defense let the Panthers shoot 16-of-31 from beyond the arc. In the Sun Belt title game, Georgia State only 5-of-19.

How’d they get here?: After beating Texas-Arlington by six in the conference quarterfinals, Louisiana-Lafayette saw its NCAA tournament hopes almost end, but T.J. Price’s couldn’t convert on the last-second shot as the Ragin’ Cajuns survived Western Kentucky, the two-seed, 73-72. Georgia State nearly went dancing as former Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow went off in overtime. However, offensive rebounding saved the Cajuns season when Mbamalu sent the game to overtime with a putback with 1.4 seconds left.

Outlook: The Ragin’ Cajuns will head into the tournament with a seeding somewhere in the teens, but look out, this team is dangerous.

How do I know you?: Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long are a great one-two punch and Payton can really play. He was a member of the the USA Basketball Under-19 team, which won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship this summer in Prague, Czech Republic.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: