While the Dawgs were, as expected, left out of the 65 team NCAA field, Coach Felton's team did get a bid to host Fresno State in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament on Wednesday at 7:00 at the Stege. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
I'm not surprised by the seeding, though with this being spring break weekend at Georgia, I think the home court advantage will be muted to nonexistent. That said, this young squad must continue playing to continue improving, so I'm happy. This is the first postseason bid for the Dawgs since Felton's inaugural campaign of '03-'04, and is progress for a squad that would have had a tough time against the Sigma Chi intramural squad in '04-'05.
As for the other Bulldogs, they started the season 6-0 against a creamy assortment of marshmallowy also-rans, to wit: Winston-Salem, South Alabama, UC Irvine, San Fransisco, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Montana State. They did go on the road for a close victory against a decent Oregon State team to move to 7-0. The other FSU also had a decisive home win against NCAA-bound Creighton and a close loss to NCAA-bound Stanford. They finished 22-9 overall and 10-6 in the wacked-out WAC.
Despite a schedule only Mike Shula could love, the Fresno State Bulldogs look like a tough out. Honestly, I'd not seen any video of the team this year prior to, um, today. Thanks be to Yahoo Sports however, I've been able to see them in action. Fresno State relies heavily on a trio of big men(6'6 Quinton Hosley, 6'9 Hector Hernandez and 6'8 Dominic McGuire) who'll play both inside and outside. They will give us matchup problems outisde because of their size, and inside because of their quickness. Hosley leads the team in scoring (14.1 ppg), followed closely by McGuire (13.5) and Hernandez (10.8). Hernandez actually led the team in 3 point attempts (175) and hit 39.4% from the forward spot. Hosley and McGuire will play the shooting guard and small forward spots.
If there's any bright spot, it's that injuries and suspensions throughout the season have depleted the FSU bench so that only 7 players average more than 10 minutes a game. They don't shoot the ball particularly well (41.6%) from the field, either. I'm anticipating a low scoring game where the team that rebounds better (or a team that gets moderately hot shooting the ball) wins.
A few other random thoughts:
Mississippi State got a #1 seed in the NIT? Are you kidding me? I just don't see it. Can any one of you explain this to me? Is Ron Polk on the selection committee?
Also, Texas is a #4 seed in the Big Dance, playing in the region where North Carolina is a #1. I'll be posting my bracket tomorrow, but here's a preview: I have Texas and Kevin Durant upsetting the Tar Heels in the Sweet Sixteen. I'll explain why later.
Arkansas had the kind of SEC tournament run that we needed, but didn't get. Some were surprised that they got in with a 7-9 conference record. However, I think it's further proof that conference tournaments still matter. They can help or hurt you (see Texas above). Arkansas is one of the teams that nobody wants to play right now, and that counts for something on selection Sunday.
There is no secret to picking who gets in and who's left out. There are a variety of paths, but this year's lessons were: 1) you should play/win some tough road games, if not you're subject to being left out (Syracuse), 2) conference tournaments matter (Arkansas), 3) time in the top 25 doesn't (Alabama), and when you get down to mid-majors, the committee will look at head-to-head matchups (Drexel, Old Dominion). Job duties are calling, but I'll be back later with more thoughts on the tournament(s).