Introducing Cinderella: College of Charleston Cougars

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Conference: Colonial Athletic Association

Coach: Earl Grant

Record: 26-7 (14-4 CAA)

Rankings and Ratings:

Kenpom: 120
RPI: 66
AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: As of right now, the College of Charleston appears headed for a 14-seed. With there being no major wins outside of conference play on their profile, that may be what keeps the Cougars from moving up to a 13 on Selection Sunday.

Names you need to know: The Cougars have three of the Colonial’s best players in guards Joe Chealey and Grant Riller, and forward Jarrell Brantley. Riller led the team in scoring with an average of 18.6 per night, with Chealey not too far off at 18.0 ppg while also dishing out a team-high 3.7 assists per game. As for Brantley, he averaged 16.9 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game. Earl Grant trusts this trio to lead the way, and more often than not they’ve gotten the job done for the CAA champs.

Stats you need to know: The Cougars’ turnover percentage of 14.6 ranks tenth nationally, which isn’t a surprise when you’ve got guards as good as Riller and Chealey leading the way. They don’t beat themselves, and the rotation as a whole has a good grasp what they need to do (and they accept their roles, as well). Also they rank 327th in the country in adjusted tempo, so while they can take advantage of open floor opportunities this is a half-court team.

Big wins, bad losses: Three of the College of Charleston’s biggest wins came against Northeastern, the last coming in Tuesday’s CAA title game. All five of the Cougars’ Quadrant 1/2 wins came against CAA competition, with the other results being their semifinal win over William & Mary and a win at Hofstra February 3. The Cougars had just two chances for marquee non-conference wins, losing at Wichita State and Rhode Island with the then-injured Brantley missing both of those games.

How’d they get here?: The top seed in the CAA tournament, the College of Charleston beat Drexel, William & Mary and Northeastern to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 1999. The final did not lack for drama, as the Cougars trailed Northeastern by as much as 17 early in the second half before rallying to force overtime. In the 83-76 win the trio of Chealey, Riller and Brantley combined to score 70 points, with Chealey dropping 32.

Outlook: Their pace, guard play and lack of turnovers could make the College of Charleston a dangerous team next week. It all depend on the matchup of course, but if they draw a team that struggles defending the perimeter and is also a bit impatient offensively look out.

How do I know you?: For fans who have watched the sport for a while, the name John Kresse should ring a bell. Kresse led the program up to Division I, and during a six-year stretch from 1993 to 1999 his Cougars made four NCAA tournament appearances. And head coach Earl Grant spent time as an assistant working with both Brad Brownell (Clemson) and Gregg Marshall (Wichita State).