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The Glass Slipper Report – Zags back on top

If you’re new to the Glass Slipper Report, welcome.  Ok, so I know you’re new here since this is the first GS report of 2018. This will be a weekly installment where we take a look at the mid-major market of college basketball teams and try to figure out not only who could be a good team come tournament time but where teams are trending as we speak. Teaser alert – Boise and UNLV are trending in opposite directions.

We will take a look at 21 teams each week. We have our field set at 16 teams, the first 4 out and then one team I am keeping my eye on as they are trending up and could crack the field soon. Next, to each team we will list an array of metrics and rankings from different sources.

RPI = Rating Percentage Index
BPI = ESPN Basketball Power Index
SOS = Strength of Schedule
KP = KenPom Ranking
Seed = ESPN Bracketology prediction

Gonzaga (23-4, 13-1)
RPI-8, BPI-11, SOS-110, KP-8, Seed-6
Surprise surprise Gonzaga is still the King of the mid-majors. With a dominating victory over St Mary’s last night. Gonzaga has blow out victories over Ohio St, Washington and Creighton and only lost by 6 at Florida. The RPI seems low but KenPom really likes this team as he ranks them a top 15 offense and top 25 defense. Gonzaga is also outscoring WCC league opponents by a wider margin than St. Mary’s so when evaluating the top 2 teams on this list I side with the Zags.

St Mary’s (24-3, 13-1)
RPI-30, BPI-16, SOS-268, KP-14, Seed-5
The Gaels have an absolute monster in 6-11 center Jock Landale who has posted 7 games with more than 30 and last week versus San Diego he put up 34 points and 18 rebounds. St Mary’s also dominates the offensive and defensive glass and Calvin Hermanson is shooting 49% from downtown in WCC league play. So, the Gaels are excellent on the glass, have a dominant post player and a deadly 3-point shooter. Hmmm, that kinda sounds like a team that could do well in March.

Rhode Island (20-3, 12-0)
RPI-6, BPI-25, SOS-87, KP-27, Seed-6
This is most likely Dan Hurley’s best team and in typical fashion, they play fantastic defense. The Rams, however, do not shoot the 3 well as they rank 285th in the country in making only 6.4 per game. They boast a neutral site win over Seton Hall and a home win vs Providence.

Nevada (21-5, 10-2)
RPI-14, BPI-27, SOS-129, KP-20, Seed-8
I came really close to putting the Wolfpack #3 and after their trip to Boise next week they may just crack the top 3. Oh, and just in case you forgot, Nevada beat Rhode Island 88-81 back in November and lost to Texas Tech in overtime in Lubbock. This team rebounds well and can hit the 3 thanks to major conference transfers. They rank #11 in offense according to KenPom and can score in bunches.

Middle Tennessee St. (20-5, 12-1)
RPI-23, BPI-44, SOS-84, KP-50, Seed-11
The RPI is really good at 23 and they have the 31st ranked defense on KenPom.com. Nick King is a potential C-USA player of the year and this team once again plays excellent defense. They recently won at Western Kentucky and even if they slip up in the C-USA tourney they will still probably be in the field of 68.

Boise St. (20-5, 10-3)
RPI-33, BPI-54, SOS-121, KP-51, Seed-12
The loss at Utah St was not a good look for Boise St as they are the epitome of a bubble team. That loss followed 2 close wins as they had to rally from 13 points to beat New Mexico and blew a 12-point lead before beating UNLV in OT. But they play solid defense and are especially adept at limiting opponents second chance points. Next up this week is a rematch in Boise vs Nevada.

Loyola-Chicago (21-5, 11-3)
RPI-51, BPI-61, SOS-223, KP-54, Seed-12
I am likely higher on the Ramblers than most, but I really like this team and I think that given the right matchup they could win a game or two in the tourney. 6-9 freshman center Cameron Krutwig is averaging 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last 8 games. It is really a shame what has happened to the Missouri Valley with Creighton and now Wichita State leaving for greener pastures. This conference is not what it used to be, but Loyola is for real.

New Mexico St. (22-3, 9-0)
RPI-47, BPI-58, SOS-183, KP-37, Seed-11
I am just not a big fan of New Mexico St, but they are still undefeated in the WAC after outscoring Grand Canyon by 10 in the second to seal the home victory. Jemerrio Jones is one of the best rebounders in the country averaging almost 13 rebounds per game. Yes, the WAC is slightly better, and Utah Valley is a decent team, but I just don’t see myself picking this team to pull an upset next month.

East Tennessee St. (22-4, 13-0)
RPI-63, BPI-62, SOS-195, KP-67, Seed-13
The Buccaneers have won 16 in a row as they continue marching through the SoCon schedule with ease. The 2-point loss at Xavier in December is looking better and better. ETSU was up 51-29 with under 15:00 to play but couldn’t hold on. Senior guard Devonta Bradford is averaging over 25 points and 7 rebounds the last 3 games and this team is in the top 30 in forcing turnovers at 7.8 per game.

Vermont (20-5, 10-0)
RPI-54, BPI-50, SOS-127, KP-55, Seed-13
The conference winning streak now stands at 31 after a close win at Albany Friday night and it looks like they will cap off an undefeated America East season as no major stumbling blocks remain. All 5 losses have been close and the 4-point loss at Rupp is impressive. As long as they aren’t matched against West Virginia I like their chances to pull an upset next month.

St. Bonaventure (18-6, 8-4)
RPI-48, BPI-56, SOS-91, KP-69, Seed-NR
Senior guard Jaylen Adams is averaging 36 points per game over his last 3 and scored 40 and 44 last week in wins over Duquesne and St. Louis. After missing the first 6 games of the season with an ankle injury, Adams is shooting 47% from behind the arc. With quality wins over Syracuse, Maryland and Vermont, the Bonnies could be a dangerous tourney team if they can get in the tournament.

Western Kentucky (18-7, 10-2)
RPI-52, BPI-68, SOS-114, KP-59, Seed-NR
This team beat Purdue in the Bahamas in November. Yep, that’s pretty much the argument for the committee. They also have only lost 2 games in C-USA and are a good team but not spectacular team. None of the metrics blow you away, this is just a good team that keeps on winning and oh yeah, they still have that glorious November night in the Bahamas to hang their hat on.

Louisiana (21-4, 11-1)
RPI-58, BPI-49, SOS-255, KP-57, Seed-12
The best team in the SunBelt ranks 24th in the country at 7.8 steals per game and 6th in assists per game. The Ragin’ Cajuns are a high scoring offense that is fun to watch but they most likely will need to win the Sun Belt tournament to secure a spot in the Dance. They only played 2 real teams in the out of conference (sorry Iowa you don’t count as a real team) and were beaten handily both times on the road versus Ole Miss and Clemson.

Belmont (20-7, 12-2)
RPI-77, BPI-81, SOS-211, KP-87, Seed-14
Belmont and Murray St are now tied atop the Ohio Valley and sadly only one of them is getting into the field of 68. I think Belmont is the better of the 2 with wins over Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, and aforementioned Western Kentucky. They also beat Murray St 79-72 last month and don’t play them again in the regular season.

Buffalo (18-7, 10-2)
RPI-29, BPI-91, SOS-145, KP-86, Seed-13
The big out of conference win doesn’t exist for Buffalo and the loss at MAC bottom feeder Northern Illinois on Saturday didn’t help their chances either. But they play at a breakneck pace with KenPom’s 14th fastest tempo and the Bulls also drain nearly ten 3’s a game. I hope they can win the MAC tourney as this is a fun team to watch and the 3 pt shooting could keep in games if they make the tournament.

Old Dominion (19-5, 10-2)
RPI-87, BPI-73, SOS-296, KP-76, Seed-NR
The 16th seed in our rankings could have easily gone to any of the first 4 out but ODU has been steady all year and they don’t have a bad loss. They easily dispatched La Tech in a tricky spot Saturday and are a real threat in the C-USA tourney with a top 50 defense according to KenPom. Look no further than this team if you want to try and beat the favorite in the C-USA tourney.

First 4 Out
BYU
Davidson
Murray St
S Dakota

Team I’m keeping my eye on
UNLV
The Rebels took Boise St. to overtime before losing, then beat Nevada in Reno and dismantled a good Wyoming team on Saturday in Las Vegas. The Mountain West tournament is on their home floor and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them win it.

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