College Basketball Nation: Fairfield

Behind the box scores: Friday's games

February, 4, 2012
2/04/12
9:57
AM ET
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Friday.

Cleveland State 65, Loyola (IL) 47
Cleveland State missed just 12 shots from the field Friday night, matching the fewest field goal misses by any team this season. They’re the third team this year to miss just 12 shots, joining Norfolk State on Nov. 27 against Eastern Kentucky and Mercer against Navy on Dec. 30. Of the three teams, the Vikings attempted the most shots (37).

St. Peter’s 63, Siena 58
Siena’s O.D. Anosike finished with nine points and 13 rebounds, narrowly missing his 18th straight double-double. That would have been the longest double-double streak since Fairfield's Darren Phillip recorded 19 straight double-doubles in the 1999-2000 season.

Fairfield 77, Niagara 69
Although each team made exactly 24 field goals, Fairfield had 19 assists to Niagara’s four.

TMA: St. Mary's does it

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
9:02
AM ET
The Morning After is our daily recap of the night's best basketball action. Try not to make it awkward.

St. Mary's 81, Gonzaga 62: Well, that settles it, huh? The Gaels entered Monday night not really needing, but definitely wanting, a win over rival Gonzaga. St. Mary's was a No. 11 seed in Joe Lunardi's latest bracket; it managed to avoid an early WCC upset and had pretty much sealed its tournament fate. Surely a loss to top 15-ranked Gonzaga wouldn't hurt that fate, would it?

No matter: St. Mary's toppled Gonzaga, and how. ("And how": Totally underused phrase in 2010. We need to bring this thing back. And how! OK, I'll stop now.) Omar Samhan, the Gaels' leading scorer and rebounder, had a quiet night, but it didn't matter. Samhan's slack was picked up by a pair of efficient shooting performances from teammates, one expected, one not. Second-leading scorer Mickey McConnell dropped 26 points on 10 of 17 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. Ben Allen -- the former Indiana forward -- made 4-of-6 from behind the arc, scoring a career high 20 points. That shooting was the main difference between the Gaels and the Bulldogs, who, at 45.9 effective field goal percentage, simply couldn't keep pace.

Again, the win was obviously a tournament guarantee for Randy Bennett's team, and it will no doubt help boost the Gaels' tournament seed, possibly into single-digit territory. But a quick look at the Gaels' postgame quotes: "Samhan, one of just two seniors in uniform for the Gaels, said he wanted this win 'more than anything else in my life.'" -- and you know it means a whole lot more. It's St. Mary's first win over Gonzaga in the WCC tourney in 10 tries. It's a major relief for a team consistently bullied by one of the best programs in the country. It's a big deal. And how.

Old Dominion 60, William and Mary 53; Siena 72, Fairfield 65 (OT): Two teams with tournament expectations, two wins, one excellent wrap piece by Andy Katz. Go to it. Oh, and that 0-313 streak we talked about yesterday? Make that 0-314. Oof.

Everywhere else: Humble IPFW ended its potential Cinderella run with a loss to a heavily favored Oakland team in the Summit League semifinals. ... Fellow Indiana-Purdue partner school IUPUI fared better in its Summit semi, hanging on to take a close win over Oral Roberts to advance to the Summit title game. ... Western Kentucky won't be making another appearance in the NCAA tournament, as Big Red (the best mascot ever, by the way) bowed out in the Sun Belt semifinal. ... The winner of that game, Troy, will take on North Texas in the Sun Belt championship Tuesday night.
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the hoops your TV wants you to watch. Embrace the conference tournament fever! Here's Monday night's rundown.

William & Mary vs. Old Dominion, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Who's ready for their close up? William & Mary and Old Dominion will play for the CAA Championship in Richmond, Va., tonight, a game that will be broadcast is as primetime a college hoops spot as possible. For many of you, it will be your first glimpse of two CAA teams on the court at the same time all year. What better time to study up than now? In that spirit, here's three important things to know about tonight's game. Impress your friends, or something:

  1. William & Mary has beaten every CAA team at least once in 2009-10 ... except for Old Dominion. The Monarchs beat the Tribe (let's take a second and appreciate just how awesome each of these teams' nicknames are, because they are awesome) twice this year, the first a three-point squeaker at William & Mary, the second a 19-point blowout at ODU.
  2. Old Dominion is far and away the more efficient team: The Monarchs are ranked No. 34 in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency rating, a full 80 spots ahead of William & Mary. Besides being the best offensive rebounding team per possession in the country (eat your heart out, West Virginia), the Monarchs make their bones on defense, where they're No. 18 in the nation, and where they hold opponents to 30.1 percent shooting from three. This is bad news for William & Mary, who rank fourth in the country in their ratio of 3-point attempts to field goal attempts; the Tribe shoot a tremendous amount of 3-point attempts, and if ODU can close out on shooters well, it could be a tough offensive night for the underdog.
  3. And what underdogs they are. Per ESPN researcher Jeremy Lundblad: "Since the advent of major college basketball -- or what we now call Division I -- in 1947-48, many teams have come and some have left D-I. However, only five have been playing major college basketball that whole time and never made the NCAA tournament. Northwestern, Army, William & Mary, Saint Francis (NY) and The Citadel were all part of the original 160 teams in D-I, but they were a collective 0-310 in trying to make the NCAA tournament entering this season." That number is now 0-313, as the Citadel, Army, and St. Francis have all bowed out of their respective conference tournaments. That leaves William & Mary fighting for their first NCAA tournament bid in history, a record that spans not only their own misfortunes but the misfortunes of several other clubs. Can the streak be broken? It'll be fun to find out.

St. Mary's vs. No. 14 Gonzaga, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: The more things change, the more Gonzaga beats St. Mary's to win the WCC conference tournament outright. I'm pretty sure that's how that saying goes. OK, maybe not, but it certainly applies: The Gaels are in the exact same position they were last year -- stuck on the bubble and needing a win over the hated Bulldogs to ensure an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. The Gaels are in better shape than in 2009, though: Joe Lunardi has St. Mary's in as a No. 11 seed already. Last year required a hurried return from injury from star player Patty Mills, and it didn't matter. Gonzaga rolled over St. Mary's in the conference title game, ending the Gaels' long-shot hopes of sneaking into the tournament with one dominant 40-minute stretch of basketball. This year is a slightly different story -- St. Mary's is looking like an at-large team with or without tonight's win. But don't for a second think St. Mary's doesn't want to improve their seed, not to mention dish out a little bit of revenge for years of Bulldog dominance out west.

Everywhere else: Siena's at-large chances died with their BracketBusters loss to Butler, but if the Saints can complete their run through the MAAC tournament with a win over Fairfield in tonight's championship game, it won't matter ... When I think Appalachian State, I think "upset"; the Wofford Terriers would very much like to avoid any such thing in the SoCon title game ... the 16-14 IPFW Mastodons will face Oakland in one of the Summit League semifinals, while Oral Roberts and IUPUI do battle in the other ... Western Kentucky will look to get one step closer to going back to the NCAA tournament in its Sun Belt semifinal match up with Troy ... and Denver will face North Texas in the other half of Hot Springs's bracket.

Behold the 96-team field

March, 6, 2010
3/06/10
12:44
PM ET
Tournament expansion has been a roundly panned idea, mostly for one reason: No one wants to watch teams 66 through 96 play a bunch of low-quality, NIT level basketball. It really comes down to that. There are reasons you could list for expansion, and some of them are valid (chief among them the NCAA's desire to make more money, which isn't necessarily a bad thing). But the bottom line is that very few people like the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament, because expanding the NCAA tournament means shoehorning the NIT into the NCAA. Even in vague form, it's not a very attractive idea.

How about in not-so-vague form? College Gameday asked Joe Lunardi to project a 96-team field on this morning's show. He did so. Here are some of bracketology-esque elements that resulted. A word of warning -- if you weren't against tournament expansion already, you might be now:

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN
" Big East (13)
" ACC (8)
" Big 12 (8)
" Atlantic 10 (6)
" Big Ten (6)
" SEC (6)
" Conference USA (5)
" Missouri Valley (5)
" Colonial (4)
" Mountain West (4)
" Pac-10 (4)
" WAC (4)
" West Coast (3)
" Metro-Atlantic (2)
" Mid-American (2)

LAST FOUR IN
" Missouri State
" North Carolina
" Arizona
" Akron

FIRST FOUR OUT
" Charleston
" IUPUI
" Wright State
" Fairfield

Gross, right? Do you have a losing record in the Missouri Valley? Not a problem! A major program going struggling to stay above .500 in a down year? Come on down! Are you, um, Fairfield? Great! You're all in the tournament! Woo-hoo! Expansion, baby!

I'm probably be a little bit too snarky here, so you'll have to forgive me. I'm just a little, I don't know, shocked? Talking about tournament expansion -- which, again, I'm not 100 percent against -- and actually seeing that expansion in action are two entirely different things. I get the pro-expansion arguments, but really? 13 Big East teams? Who, besides those teams' coaches, want this? And why?

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