For the perfect likelihood at a main upset on this yr’s NCAA Match, look no additional than the Peacocks hailing from Jersey Metropolis, New Jersey.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Convention Match champions are one of many Davids of the Match, hoping its season continues previous the snobbiest of blueblood faculties, Kentucky. The SEC juggernaut will probably be closely favored to take down Saint Peter’s to await the winner of Murray State versus San Francisco on Saturday, accurately.
As I really feel the contentious Large Blue Nation conglomerate invading this area from Lexington, it’s value stating I picked Kentucky to win this sport. The Wildcats are in my Closing 4, dropping to Gonzaga in New Orleans. Nonetheless, I gave critical consideration to penciling on this upset. Envisioning how SPU may cease possible Naismith Award winner Oscar Tshiebwe from enacting his human-bowling-ball method and pulling down the Peacock pins in superb style made me suppose in any other case. You possibly can’t persuade me Kentucky gained’t face a minimum of a little bit adversity.
Kentucky is a formidable 26-7 and left no matter doldrums that brought about it to overlook final season’s NCAA Match up to now. The Wildcats haven’t appeared in an NCAA Match in three years, though they solely missed one version. Three years is a millennium for a blueblood. It had been for the reason that Eddie Sutton period sanctions that Kentucky was out of March Insanity for that lengthy, lacking the 1989-91 Tournaments, the one different multi-year streak with out postseason play since World Conflict II.
The one-and-done manufacturing facility John Calipari has created in Lexington isn’t the make-up of this yr’s group with its skilled, deep roster. But, each group has restricted true Match expertise at greatest. There hasn’t been a multi-city Match since 2019. I coated a sport throughout March Insanity final yr. It was a blast however clearly totally different from something earlier and hopefully any future Match because it was held solely in Indiana. How that stage impacts everyone seems to be the wild-card to this yr’s extravaganza. Kentucky and Saint Peter’s are compromised in the very same approach due to it.
All of Kentucky’s seven losses got here in opposition to fellow Match groups with all however two now residing within the top-four seed traces. The Wildcats scored a minimum of 62 factors in every of these defeats, that means Saint Peter’s can’t solely depend on its protection and hope the remainder falls into place. UK additionally suffered just one double-digit loss this yr. If the humongous upset occurs, anticipate it to be contentious to the ultimate buzzer with no coasting time for the Peacocks.
Saint Peter’s is 0-2 this season in opposition to high-level convention groups, dropping to St. John’s and Windfall. The elements for a bumpy Kentucky journey are in place. All through the MAAC Match, the Peacocks relied on muddying the waters, disrupting each opponents’ offensive move. Kentucky could have by far the perfect athletes the Peacocks have confronted this season however SPU clashes with Kentucky in that approach and may play a extra methodical sport. Differing types will result in a blowout or be inside vary of an upset. I don’t see a center floor.
The Peacocks don’t have a participant who can guard Tshiebwe efficiently for the complete sport. Why not implement hack-an-Oscar? He’s a 69.3 p.c free-throw shooter and posted a 3-for-7 mark from the charity stripe in Kentucky’s final sport within the SEC Match semifinals. That threat would take factors away from the Wildcats however would additionally take a look at Saint Peter’s depth. If Peacocks head coach Shaheen Holloway is snug together with his frontcourt gamers, trot them out in Thursday evening’s sport and switch a part of it right into a boxing match.
Holloway has minimize his tooth within the New York Metropolis space’s hoops scene. He and Mike Bibby had been thought of the 2 greatest level guards within the nation as a part of the 1996 recruiting class. The Seton Corridor standout as a participant on the flip of the millennium later spent eight seasons as a Pirates assistant coach. Now he’s on the helm of his personal Division I program, with an ideal view to the Statue of Liberty from campus. To suppose he or his group will probably be intimidated by the brilliant lights of March Insanity is silly.
On the courtroom, Saint Peter’s is way from a one-trick pony. 5 gamers common seven factors or extra and eight have a scoring common at 5 factors per sport or greater. Senior ahead KC Ndefo is the one Peacock to start out each sport this season however doesn’t lead the group in minutes performed, scoring or rebounding, displaying high-level distribution for a mid-major. If SPU wants a clutch basket, Doug Edert is a 41.2 p.c 3-point shooter, the Twenty second-best proportion in Division I.
What’s the possibility a No. 15 or 16 seed upsets one of many eight groups on the top-two-seed traces on Thursday or Friday primarily based on historic priority? It’s 3.47 p.c, with the bottom-two traces holding a 10-278 all-time file within the NCAA Match. 9 of these victories got here from a No. 15 seed and the outlier being UMBC knocking off top-seed Virginia in 2018. ESPN’s bracket predictor is true in line with that determine, giving Kentucky a 97 p.c likelihood at victory in opposition to Saint Peter’s. It’s extremely unlikely to wager on any such upset taking place however my cash’s on the Peacocks ought to a Goliath fall in 2022.