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NCAA Tournament Primer: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

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

Conference: Southland

Coach: Brad Underwood

Record: 29-2 (18-0 Southland)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 60
– RPI: 63
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: The Lunberjacks were a No. 13 seed in Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket projected.

Names you need to know: Desmond Haymon (14.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.8 apg), Jacob Parker (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg), Thomas Walkup (12.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg), Deshaunt Walker (12.0 ppg)

Stats you need to know: The Lumberjacks are third in the nation in defensive turnover percentage, but it comes at a price. They’re also one of the most foul prone teams in the country, with a free throw rate that ranks among the worst in Division I despite playing just a single NCAA tournament team.

Tendencies: The Lumberjacks are a bit unique. They force a ton of turnovers and commit a lot of fouls, but they’re one of the most patient offensive teams in the country. They don’t start anyone taller than 6-foot-6, all of whom shoot at least 35.3% from three, yet their offensive rebounding percentage is 38.5%, 11th nationally.

Big wins, bad losses: Stephen F. Austin has only lost twice this season — at Texas and at East Tennessee State, both in November. They’ve won 28 straight since then, but only one of those 28 teams ranked in KenPom’s to 150. That’s Towson.

How’d they get here?: SFA rolled through the Southland Conference and then rolled through the Southland tournament.

Outlook: If SFA is going to win a game in the dance, they’re going to have to get lucky with a matchup. A team with solid, turnover-free point guard play and a big front line might embarrass them. If they can catch a break and draw a team like Ohio State or Villanova, there might be some potential there.

How do I know you?: The Lumberjacks have made one NCAA tournament in their history. You probably don’t know much about them unless you read Scott Phillips’ feature on the team from last month.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
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Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.

Arizona’s Tarczewski out 4-to-6 weeks

Kaleb Tarczewski, Sean Miller
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Arizona will be without senior center Kaleb Tarczewski for 4-to-6 weeks, the school announced on Tuesday. The 7-foot Tarczewski suffered a stress reaction and strained muscle to his left foot and he’ll have some time to heal before the main portion of the Pac-12 conference schedule.

The experienced Tarczewski was averaging 8.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game before going down with injury. Without the senior in the lineup, Arizona fell to Providence in the Wooden Legacy last week. Without Tarczewski in the lineup, the Wildcats could turn to center Dusan Ristic while forward Ryan Anderson has had some solid outings this season.

Missing Tarczewski for the rest of non-conference play will hurt but he’ll get to rest and recover for the stretch run while the Wildcats can mix in some new frontcourt pieces.