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NCAA Tournament Breakdowns - Play-In Games
Posted Mar 19, 2013

Quick analysis of every team in the NCAA tournament so you'll know what you're doing.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tourney


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we're, but like the rest of the world, we take a wee bit of a break for the first round of the NCAA college basketball tournament. Before you fill out your bracket - DON'T GUESS - check out the quick breakdown of each team with what you need to know to make an informed decision.
16. North Carolina A&T (19-16)
Here’s The Deal: Now that’s how you take advantage of a conference tournament. It’s not like the Aggies were horrible during the MEAC conference slate, but a .500 record falls well short of championship-caliber. So A&T decided to take things into its own hands and put together its longest winning streak of the year at just the right time to go dancing. The Aggies will try and hang their hat on their effort on the defensive end to try and spring a monumental upset. They are holding opponents to just 38% from the field, and that showing on D has to continue to make up for the lack of scoring. They’ll slow it down and hope to stay within arm’s reach, then try and steal it somehow, someway at the wire.
Player You Need To Care About: Adrian Powell, you’re up. The senior Aggie forward doesn’t average a bushel of points, but he’s the leading scorer for a team that looks to take time off the shot clock towards a prime look. He’s also the leading rebounder, and though it isn’t a priority, he can bury a three-ball when given the chance. Others have stepped up from time to time, but he’s the most likely Aggie to enter the spotlight.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? They’ll beat Liberty in the play-in game, and then reality will set in hard against Louisville.


16. Liberty (15-20)
Here’s The Deal: There’s one every tournament, and this year it’s Liberty. Heading into the Big South tournament, the Flames sat at 12-20 overall and 3-10 in conference play. Three wins later, and now Liberty has its Sunday best on, ready to go dancing. The defense does a solid job of limiting the opportunities teams have in drilling an open jumper, but there’s too much to work on across the board. The Flames got hot and now look at what they’ve won for a prize - a chance to get beat up by a more physical team. Getting to the tournament might make for a nice season, but there’s a destiny’s darling aspect after the conference tournament.
Player You Need To Care About: John Caleb Sanders gets things moving for the offense. The 6-0 junior guard is averaging just over 14 points, four rebounds, and a cool 3.5 assists, but he raised his game in the Big South tourney. He had 27 points against Charleston Southern alone for all the Big South marbles, and if he can continue his confidence and growth in a one game shot, there’s a chance at making things interesting.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? It’s been fun, but the Flames will be extinguished in the play-in round.

11. Middle Tennessee (28-5)
Here’s The Deal: The Blue Raiders were by far the most dominant team in the Sun Belt Conference, but got bumped from an automatic-qualifying spot because of a loss in the conference championship game. At the end of the day, the selection committee thought the body of work was just enough to deserve an at-large selection. There’s not a season-defining win against a big-boy, but the Blue Raiders were so good in league play - going 19-1 with an average scoring margin of over 13 points a game - that their ticket was punched anyhow. Scoring and shooting isn’t a problem, but it’s a smothering defense and solid rebounding that led the way to the big season. Great at scrambling to the ball, they’ve held opponents to under 40% from the field and under 30% from three. The knock? Turnovers. They can get a bit sloppy.
Player You Need To Care About: Only one Blue Raider averages in double-figures, senior guard Marcos Knight. He's averaging just over 12 points a game while making a huge impact in several other areas. He leads the team in rebounding from the guard spot, while ranking second in assists and steals. He’s not going to look to pull the trigger from deep very often, but he’ll go out and try to make a play by getting to the rim and drawing fouls when the rubber meets the road.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? They’ll show why the couldn’t come up with a big win over a real team. The offense will sputter a bit too much against St. Mary’s in the play-in.


11. Saint Mary’s (27-6)
Here’s The Deal: The Gaels are the other team from the West Coast Conference. Despite being in the shadow of Gonzaga all year, Saint Mary’s has a good enough résumé to make some noise of its own. There might not be a season-defining win, but the only two conference losses were to the No. 1 team in the country. There’s giant killer potential with an offense that gets up and down the court at 75 points per contest. The damage is done both by way of shooting well from deep, but from also rebounding misses like their hair’s on fire. However, to climb the beanstalk, Saint Mary’s will have to guard shooters on the perimeter much better than it did during the season. That, or hope that the opposition misses those open looks allowed all year.
Player You Need To Care About: Senior guard Matthew Dellavedova leads the Gaels in several categories. He sits in the catbird seat in scoring (15.8 ppg), steals, assists, and free-throw percentage. To shut him down, teams will need to either scrape the three-point line off the court, or put someone on him at all times out where the air is rare. Dellavedova has a love-affair with launching bombs, with over half of his attempts coming from three-point range, but it’s in the team’s design. If he turns up the thermostat, look out.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Gaels could be a decent deep, deep sleeper to make a little bit of noise. They’ll get by Middle Tennessee in the play-in before giving Memphis a good run.

16. LIU Brooklyn (20-13)
Here’s The Deal: The Blackbirds might not exactly be Final Four material, but they’ll sure be entertaining. The Northeast Conference tournament champions set a frenetic pace with a thrilling up-and-down style to give teams fits, averaging just under 80 points a game while burying over 48% of their shots. And they heated up even more at the end of the year--dropping over 90 points in six of their last eight contests. Of course, there’s a problem with all of this offense; the defense can’t seem to catch its breath, giving up just three points less than what the offense is scoring. Yeah, this is going to be fun.
Player You Need To Care About: On a team that scores so many points, there’s a good chance of having a guy that has some eye-popping offensive numbers. Hello Jamal Olasewere. The 6-7 senior forward is averaging just shy of 19 points a game, and he doesn’t just get it by knocking down shots; he’s fantastic at getting to the line. He can shoot from behind the three-point line and elsewhere on the floor, but he also averages close to 12 free-throw attempts per game.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? They’ll try to outrun James Madison in the play-in, but there will be way too many mistakes and turnovers to advance.


16. James Madison (20-14)
Here’s The Deal: The Dukes are your Colonial League tournament champions, getting in with the automatic bid after finishing fourth in the regular-season standings. They force plenty of mistakes with the ability to create turnovers, while keeping their own mistakes to a minimum. Unfortunately, there’s no way it’ll be enough if front line can’t get more production and effort on the glass. The Dukes are getting hot at the right time, but they have to keep rolling with the D.
Player You Need To Care About: Four starters average double-figures, but only one of them is the floor general. Senior guard Devon Moore averages just over 11 points a game while leading the way in steals, assists and field-goal percentage. He’s tunes it all on offense, and without him coming up with a huge game, there’s no chance to advance.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The Dukes will make fewer mistakes than LIU Brooklyn, but Indiana will have too much firepower the next round.

13. Boise State (21-10)
Here’s The Deal: The Mountain West got plenty of respect. Much like other teams in the strong RPI conference, the Broncos will be gunning away from deep. They wer the 15th best three-point shooting offense in the country on the way to averaging over 70 points per game. They’re decent on the boards because of effort, but if they run into a team with some horses down low, it could be a long day. Bombing away from beyond the arc could be a great equalizer.
Player You Need To Care About: The top gunner is sophomore forward/guard Anthony Drmic. The 6-6 offensive machine is a lethal scorer who’ll chuck and hit half of his shots from deep, but he’s not married to the idea, pulling it down and occasionally taking what the defense gives him. He averages over 17 points a game, but he’ll be game-planned against.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? Can the offense deal with the tough La Salle D? Yes, and don’t be stunned if Kansas State has a problem keeping up in a shootout.


13. La Salle (21-9)
Here’s The Deal: La Salle just barely squeaked into the field, and it has everything to do with some big wins outside of conference to go with an 11-5 ranking in the league with a solid RPI. The Explorers aren’t known nationally, but they were more than just competitive with several of the bigger boys on the slate, including wins over brand-name programs Villanova, Butler and VCU. The O cranked out over 70 points per game with the ability to get hot and light it up from the outside. They don’t make too many mistakes, but there is an overemphasis on guarding the perimeter. By extending the defense too far at times, the D has opened things up inside for opponents. Trying to create havoc in the backcourt isn’t a bad thing, but the help defense has to be much better to expect much of a run.
Player You Need To Care About: You’d expect a team that gets a lot of points from the perimeter to have its best player in the backcourt. Senior guard Ramon Galloway is putting up 17 points a game by lighting it up from deep, but by also getting to other open spots on the floor. He can also fill up the stat sheet with almost four assists, two steals and over four rebounds a game - he’s the type of playmaker who can get hot and carry a team if given the chance.
Really, How Deep Will The Run Be? The defense won’t be able to keep down the explosive Broncos in a wild play-in game.

2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Team Breakdowns
Play-In Games | South - Top Half | South - Bottom Half 
East - Top Half | East - Bottom Half
Midwest - Top Half | Midwest - Bottom Half
West - Top Half | West - Bottom Half