After a day off to consider the brackets, daily fantasy college basketball at Daily Joust is back. I tend not to spend too much time on brackets. I go with the seeds and with my knowledge gleaned from a season watching plenty of hoops. Not surprisingly, I went with Kentucky. In fact, my only big upset in the first round was Long Beach State knocking off New Mexico.
For today, we delve into that other postseason tournament, the NIT, as well as the first two games of the First Four in the NCAA tournament. The game between the BYU and Iona should be really interesting. I’ll look at three Gaels as well as some players from the other Final Four game: Western Kentucky vs. Mississippi Valley State.
LaMarcus Reed ($216,000), guard, Texas-Arlington Mavericks (vs. Washington)
The Mavericks won the regular season title in the Southland by winning of 15 of 16 conference games. They were ousted from the conference tournament by McNeese State in the semifinals, so they are relegated to the NIT. Reed, a 6-foot-6 senior, led the team in scoring with 17.7 points and scored at least 17 points in his last six games. Against Tier 1 competition like Washington, Reed had 21 points against Baylor, but just five points against Texas. He should score well against the Huskies.
Chaz Williams ($199,000), guard, Massachusetts Minutemen (vs. Mississippi State)
UMass opened up the A10 tournament by knocking out top-seeded Temple in the quarterfinals. They were ousted by eventual champion St. Bonaventure in the semifinals. The season was a coming out party for Williams, a sophomore transfer from Hofstra. The 5-foot-9 guard provided 16.4 points and 6.4 assists. He is a volume shooter who hit more threes (41.2%) than he did two-pointers (39.5%). Mississippi State has Dee Bost ($163,000) to check Williams, but Bost is better at playing the passing lanes than guarding quick players like Williams.
Brandon Davies ($199,000), forward, BYU Cougars (vs. Iona)
Davies is best remembered for his suspension last year due to a violation of the BYU honor code. Davies has become a fine player who could be the key to getting the Cougars to the Round of 64 in the play-in game against Iona. The Gaels do not have anyone to body up against the 6-foot-9 junior who finished the regular season with three straight 20-point games. He had 23 points in the Cougar win at Gonzaga. Despite getting in foul trouble in both games of the WCC tournament, Davies averaged 16.5 points and hit 13-for-20 (65%) from the field.
Mike Glover ($196,000), forward, Iona Gaels (vs. BYU)
The 6-foot-7 Glover is a beast around the basket. Against teams in the MAAC, he was able to use his strength in the paint to average 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. The top-seeded Gaels were ousted from the MAAC tournament by Fairfield, but Glover had 19 points and nine rebounds in the last game of the season. BYU has some big bodies like Davies to slow Glover, but the aggressive senior will get his shots and may score 20 points to earn his contract.
LeRon Dendy ($174,000), forward, Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (vs. Marshall)
Like UTA, Middle Tennessee State was the best team in their conference (the Sun Belt) during the regular season. They went 14-2 and their only two losses were on the road at Denver and against tournament champion Western Kentucky. The Blue Raiders were shocked in the Sun Belt tournament by ninth seeded Arkansas State and had to settle for an NIT bid. Dendy is a 6-foot-9 transfer from Iowa State who led the team with 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds. He scored 14 points or more in six of his last seven games and had three 20-point games in that span. He had 22 points against Vanderbilt on Jan. 28 and should score well against the Thundering Herd.
Noah Hartsock ($171,000), forward, BYU Cougars (vs. Iona)
For most of the season, Hartsock was the heir to the Jimmer. The senior led the Cougars with 16.7 points. He missed the regular season finale against Portland on Feb. 25 and came off the bench in the WCC tournament. He did have 19 points in the first round win against San Diego, but was held to 12 points in the loss to Gonzaga. Iona is a very fast-paced team, so Hartsock should have plenty of scoring opportunities and could score in the twenties for the twelfth time this season.
Lamont Jones ($169,000), guard, Iona Gaels (vs. BYU)
Momo transferred to Iona after two rather quiet years as an Arizona Wildcat. In his first season in the MAAC, he averaged 16.0 points and hit 46.7% of his field goals. Jones played against the Cougars as a Wildcat and scored 20 points in the 2010-11 season in a game that BYU won by 22 points. He scored 24 points in the regular season finale against St. Peter’s, but averaged just 13.5 points in the MAAC tournament. Of the three Gael stars, I think Jones is the best bet to play well on the big stage in Dayton.
Scott Machado ($165,000), guard, Iona Gaels (vs. BYU)
Iona led the nation in scoring average at 83.3 points and Machado set up the attack by averaging a nation’s best 9.9 assists. His helpers won’t be of any use to Jousters, but the 6-foot-1 senior can also call his own number. He provided 13.6 points and scored 42 points in the two MAAC tournament games. Machado also had a season-high 33 points in Nov. 23 win over St. Joe’s in double-overtime. It may be that Machado and his quickness are the biggest advantages that the Gaels have over BYU.
Kevin Burwell ($150,000), guard, Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (vs. Western Kentucky)
The Delta Devils were the dominant team in the SWAC. They went 17-1 in conference and won the SWAC tournament. All of their dominance earned them a place in the play-in game for the right to play Kentucky. Burnwell is the team’s point guard whose salary is boosted by a 30-point outing on Feb. 27 at Jackson State. He he hit seven threes in that game and went 0-for-9 in the next two games from long range. Center Paul Crosby ($140,000) is a better bet against the Hilltoppers. Before being held to six points in the SWAC final, Crosby had scored in double digits in 15 consecutive games.
George Fant ($134,000), forward, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (vs. Mississippi Valley State)
For most of the season, the Hilltoppers struggled. They even fired their coach Ken McDonald midway through the season. Interim coach Ray Harper started just 3-6 before the team caught fire and won the Sun Belt tournament as a seven seed. Fant, a 6-foot-5 freshman, started the last eight games of the season and scored in double digits in six of them. He averaged 16.3 points in the Sun Belt tournament. He should have plenty of strength to get baskets in the paint against the Delta Devils.