Breaking down Wagner, Furman and Iona
Conference play is now in full force across the country and the rankings are starting to take shape.
In this edition of the Mid-Major Report, we’ll dive into three teams that will likely need to win their conference tournaments to earn a ticket to the Big Dance.
If one of those teams wins that golden ticket, they’re more than capable of creating some fork madness.
|Current overall record||12-2|
|Current ESPN bracketology seed||14|
Wagner is in position to earn his second NCAA Tournament bid in program history. It’s been nearly two decades since the Seahawks last danced, and to date, they’re the favorites to win the Northeastern Conference tournament.
I was on Wagner at +600 to win the conference before the season, and the program even exceeded my expectations at this point. Since the start of the season, the group has jumped 84 places in KenPom — 192 to 108.
Wagner has won nine straight, including his first six conference games. The Seahawks’ only two losses this season have been to Seton Hall and Penn State.
According to KenPom, the Seahawks are 82% or better in each of their next nine games. The only exception is a road game at Bryant to end the season, which is likely a preview of the conference championship.
Bashir Mason’s group won by an average margin of 15 points per game. The program boasts the highest-ranked offensive and defensive efficiency in the Northeast Conference.
The Seahawks are head and shoulders better than the rest of the league.
|Mount St. Mary||-8.63|
|Saint Francis (BKN)||-15.83|
Wagner has four players who average double-digit scoring, including three super seniors in Alex Morales, Elijah Ford and Will Martinez.
The Seahawks finished last year winning 12 of their last 13 conference games, and that success has carried over to this season.
Don’t be surprised to hear the Wagner Seahawks on Draft Sunday
|Current overall record||14-7|
|Current ESPN bracketology seed||N / A|
Furman has a 51-18 conference record under Bob Richey over the past four seasons, but hasn’t been able to get over the bump. This seems to be their best chance yet.
The Paladins offensive system is a work of art under Richey, who believes in 3s or layups, with no middleman. Furman supports 51% of his shot attempts from behind the arc, where he connects on an incredible 39%.
Even more impressively, the group hit 53% of their 2-point shot attempts. Paladins are able to space the ground with a plethora of shooters, which opens up pathways.
The offense has three players who are averaging 15 points per game in Mike Bothwell, Alex Hunter and Jalen Slawson. The experienced group have assisted on 63% of their buckets made this season, which ranks them in the top 10 in the country.
Furman is 6-2 since the start of conference play while outscoring opponents by 14 points per game. The Paladins are favorites to win each of their 10 remaining games in Southern Conference play, according to KenPom.
Furman will have to get past Chattanooga if he wants to bring Richey to the NCAA Tournament bump. The Paladins were down by two runs in the first game on the road in a game where the box score was almost identical.
|Current overall record||17-3|
|Current ESPN bracketology seed||12|
Losing two all-conference guards — Isaiah Ross and Asante Gist — in the offseason would mean a major rebuild for most programs. But not for Rick Pitino, who has brought in a host of talent through the transfer portal for this season.
Iona has by far the most dominant offense in MAAC. The Gaels are 81st in attacking efficiency, with the closest team behind them being Monmouth, who sit 164th.
In terms of overall efficiency, it’s not even close.
The best coach and the best talent has led Iona to a dominating 17-3 record this season. The Gaels beat 16th-placed Alabama and held on in their three-game losing streak to Kansas, Belmont and Saint Louis.
The group are winners of their last six games and are favorites to win their last 10 games of the regular season.
It wouldn’t surprise me if this team didn’t rack up another loss until we saw their name called in the NCAA Tournament.
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