Category: 2014 Automatic Bids

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

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.

NCAA Tournament Primer: Western Michigan Broncos

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

Conference: Mid-American Conference

Coach: Steve Hawkins

Record: 23-9 (14-4 MAC)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 112
– RPI: 82
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: As of Dave Ommen’s bracket update on Saturday morning, Toledo, who Western Michigan beat in the MAC title game, was a No. 12 seed. Western Michigan, whose RPI is 50 spots lower, will likely be closer to a No. 13 or 14 seed.

Names you need to know: David Brown (19.0 ppg), Shayne Whittington (16.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg), Connar Tava (12.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apg)

Stats you need to know: There are three things that mid-majors need to be able to do if they want to pull off an upset in the NCAA tournament: hit a lot of threes, protect the ball offensively and get to the foul line. WMU’s free throw rate is 52.0, which is top 15 nationally. But they turn the ball over on 20.9% of their possessions (which is really bad) and shoot just 33.0% from three.

Tendencies: The Broncos aren’t deep, relying on their five starters for the most part, and their offense largely runs through star guard David Brown, who was the leading scorer in a strong MAC this season.

Big wins, bad losses: The Broncos actually have a pretty strong profile. They have a pair of top 50 wins (both Toledo) and an 8-4 record against top 100 opponents.

How’d they get here?: The Broncos earned a share of the MAC regular season title before knocking off Toledo in the MAC tournament title game.

Outlook: The Broncos ended the season as hot as anyone in the mid-major ranks. They’ve won 12 of their last 13 games with the only loss being in overtime to Toledo, who they beat twice this season, on the road. They won’t be a trendy upset pick, but this is a team that you’ll want to take a long look at when the brackets are released.

How do I know you?: You probably don’t. This is the first time in a decade that WMU has reached the NCAA tournament. That was Hawkins’ first season in Kalamazoo.

NCAA Tournament Primer: New Mexico State Aggies

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

Conference: WAC

Coach: Marvin Menzies

Record: 26-9 (12-4 WAC)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 72
– RPI: 78
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: As of Dave Ommen’s bracket update on Saturday morning, New Mexico State was a No. 15 seed.

Names you need to know: Daniel Mullings (16.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 spg), Sim Bhullar (10.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.5 bpg), Tshilidzi Nephawe (11.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg)

Stats you need to know: The Aggies can score. They’re top 50 in offensive efficiency because they hit threes, they have post scorers, they get to the offensive glass and they have Daniel Mullings. They aren’t all that good defensively, however, because they don’t force turnovers and they can’t clean the defensive glass.

Tendencies: There are things that the Aggies do quite well. They can score, they have size and they have a playmaker offensively that can go for 20 on any given night. They chase teams off the three point line and they have the length and athleticism to contest shots inside the arc. Where they struggle is on the defensive glass. Too many second chance points on a team that doesn’t gamble for steals is not a good combination.

Big wins, bad losses: New Mexico State swept UTEP and also picked up a win over New Mexico in The Pit, one of the toughest places in the country to play.

How’d they get here?: The Aggies finished second in the WAC during the regular season, but they won the league tournament thanks, in part, to Idaho upsetting Utah Valley in the semifinals.

Outlook: New Mexico State beat New Mexico at New Mexico. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it should be proof that they can give whoever they draw in the first round some issues. The problem? A watered-down WAC combined with four ugly league losses means that they’ll likely end up playing a No. 2 or a No. 3 seed in their first game makes it tough to predict an upset.

How do I know you?: Because they have this guy, who is 7-foot-5:

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And they played in a game where this happened: