Four teams sit in this half of the Las Vegas Invitational, and it should lead to some pretty decent games between four mid-major teams trying to make a mark.
So, this is meant to be a quick scouting report on each of the four teams, and how good these teams are. I'll also make early predictions on where each team will finish. Let's face it though- any team could win this thing. Any team could also finish fourth. We'll see how this goes.
Pomeroy Ranking: 289
The Mocs top offensive threats are Gee McGhee and Z Mason. While the Mocs are undersized, Mason plays bigger than his size. He is a former top recruit...in football. He was a tight end recruit in football and committed to Ole Miss. After spending a year there, he transferred to Chattanooga to take up basketball. The Mocs had been getting better each game, prior to their struggles in Los Angeles against UCLA. The Mocs had lead Nevada virtually the entire game, before falling on a last second three pointer. The Mocs are not a great shooting team, but bring tremendous effort. That seems to be the calling card of Will Wade's first team. The effort will eventually lead to wins. Will it be in Vegas?
Pomeroy Ranking: 269
The Bulldogs lost a nine point game to Missouri and a 13 point game to Northwestern. They lost at Furman by 11 earlier this year. Donta Harper and Naji Hibbert are the two leading scorers for them. This is a small team. Harper is 6-7, but the leading rebounder is Jerome Hill, who is 6-5. This team is allowing opponents to get offensive rebounds on 39.1% of their missed shots, good for 316th in the country (out of 351 teams). They start two guys who are 6-5, one who is 6-1, one who is 6-2, and one who is 5-10. This is a small team that has not been shooting well (an eFG% of 43.1%, which is 317 in the country). However, they have been forcing turnovers at a solid clip, and preventing opponents from making threes at a very good rate. Opponents are only shooting 27.0% from three. This team will probably rebound better at some point. Tim Craft is also in his first year as head coach.
Pomeroy Ranking: 263
The Jaguars have not beaten a D1 team yet. They lost to Northwestern by two and Missouri by fourteen. They are shooting over 50% from two point range. Opponents are also shooting over 50% from two point range. The Jaguars are a good defensive rebounding team and not a good offensive rebounding team. But they are not huge, but may be a little bigger. Mitch Patton is 6-9, and collects 7.2 rebounds per game along with 15.0 points per game. Marcellus Barksdale is 6-5 and averaging 7.7 boards. Donovan Gibbs is 6-7 and averaging 5.0 rebounds per game. Ian Chiles is averaging 18.0 points per game, leading the team. They went 6-26 a year ago, and appear much improved. This is a solid offensive team, but not a great defensive team. Should be an interesting club to see how they perform in Vegas.
Pomeroy Ranking: 147
The Eagles are 5-2, and have been playing well. They only lost to UCLA by eleven and beat Nevada. They did lose to Xavier by 23. Opponents are not shooting well from three point land. Chad Posthumus is 6-11, averaging 11.4 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. He is big, and going to present a major challenge to any team that faces him. They are one of the top rebounding teams in the country, which isn't surprising. Angelo Warner and Brent Arrington each have made 15 three pointers already this year. This team has been turnover prone, but also is good at forcing turnovers. They are going to be one of the best teams in the OVC this year.
Morehead State is the clear favorite. They are the best team in this whole tournament. There's no question. In fact, they may be the second best team in Vegas behind only UCLA, but ahead of Nevada (who they beat), Northwestern, and Missouri. That being said, the Mocs could beat them in the first round. IUPUI and Gardner Webb could both beat them in the championship game. But I wouldn't bet on it. IUPUI is the very slight favorite over Gardner Webb. I think the Mocs beat Gardner Webb by a nose in the third place game. That being said, any of these teams could finish anywhere. The biggest surprise would be if Morehead State lost two. Posthumus will dominate this half of the bracket.