Introducing Cinderella: Hofstra is heading to the dance for the first time in 19 years

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The Pride made it back to the NCAA tournament for the first time 2001 when they landed a come-from-behind win over Northeastern in the CAA tournament title game on Tuesday night.

It capped a fairly easy run through the the tournament, one that saw the Pride pick off Drexel and Delaware before beating the Huskies. Mihalach’s club was given an easy road when William & Mary and Charleston both lost in the first round.

The pride are one of the most enjoyable mid-major teams to watch because of the style that they play. Mihalich lets his guys go. He has a roster full of talented guards, and he lets them make plays, for better or for worse. They are going to be matchup dependent because of their lack of size, but they have a couple of players that are going to be a threat to go for 20 on any given night.

Put another way, they didn’t win 26 games by accident.

LEAGUE: Colonial

COACH: Joe Mihalich

RECORD: 26-8, 14-4

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METRICS:

  • NET: 118
  • KENPOM: 107
  • TORVIK: 105

PROJECTED SEED: Right now, the Pride are projected as a No. 14 seed in Dave Ommen’s latest bracket update, but there is a good chance that will change as conference tournament week plays out as favorites start to lose. I don’t think they are good enough to get up to a No. 12 seed, but I think a No. 13 seed is very possible.

WHO DID THEY BEAT?: Hofstra’s biggest win of the season came with they went into Pauley Pavilion and knocked off UCLA. Now, that win looks much better now than it did at the time — the Bruins started out the season 8-9 and lost to Fullerton at home as well — but it is still a statement. The Bruins are the only high-major team that Hofstra has played this season, which is part of the reason they are unlikely to climb up to a No. 12 seed.

WHY HOFSTRA CAN WIN AN NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME

Their guards are really talented.

The name to know is probably Desure Buie, who is the program’s leading scorer at 18.1 points while also leading the team with 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals. He went for 29 points in the win at UCLA, 35 points at Towson and a career-high 44 points against Elon. But Eli Pemberton, the team’s second-leading scorer, is just as dangerous. He was actually the leading scorer in the CAA tournament, which came on the heels of putting up 35 points on James Madison in the last game of the regular season.

In total, there are four guards on the roster that averaging at least 31 minutes and shoot better than 38 percent from three. If they’re hot, look out.

WHY HOFSTRA WON’T WIN AN NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME

None of the four guards that I mentioned are taller than 6-foot-5. Their starting center is 6-foot-7. The Pride rank outside the top 300 in defensive two-point field goal percentage and block rate, and they allow opponents to grab more than 29 percent of their offensive rebounds. If they run into a team that has any kind of presence on the interior, especially if that presence can defend on the perimeter, and they will be in trouble.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?

The Pride haven’t been to the NCAA tournament in 19 years. They haven’t won a game in the tournament since 1977. So you probably don’t know them, unless you are a fan of CAA hoops. They have, however, had some of the best guards in the mid-major ranks in recent years. Justin Wright-Foreman was a monster, as was Charles Jenkins.

AUTOMATIC BID OUTLOOK

Hofstra is going to have a chance in whatever matchup they draw in the first round because of their ability to shoot the rock.