Like most fans and media members, I’m still a little bitter over the Bonnies NCAA Tournament snub last Sunday. And after watching Vanderbilt’s putrid performance against Wichita State, I firmly believe the Bonnies would have put up much more of a fight. Having said that, today, the Bonnies finally get to move forward as they take on the Wagner Seahawks in the rowdy confines of the Reilly Center. Of course, in order for the Bonnies to make a deep-run in the NIT — and make a statement to the NCAA Selection committee — they’ll have to do three things.
1. Use the snub as motivation:
Whenever a mid-major college basketball team gets snubbed by the committee, I always wonder if the team will check out and not care about the NIT, or if they’ll rally, and show the committee the error of their ways. In the Bonnies’ case, they have arguably a top-20 backcourt with All-Conference guards Marcus Posley and Jaylen Adams, senior leadership and toughness with Dion Wright, and solid contributors like co-6th man of the year in the A-10 Denzel Gregg, and the much-improved Idris Taqqee among others. In short, this team has the talent to matchup with the majority of the NIT field — but it comes down to if they want to rally.
2. Jaylen Adams has to bounce back:
Adams has had an excellent season, helping the Bonnies get to this point. However, in his last game, the Davidson Wildcats held the all-conference first teamer under three points—his lowest total of the season. He also fouled out in that contest. If Adams repeats this performance — the Bonnies won’t even get by Wagner. However, the stats say this won’t happen again. On three separate occasions this season where Adams has been held under 10 points — he bounced back after each game scoring over 20 points in the next game. While Adams likely continues this trend, he’ll have to play well down the stretch if the Bonnies have any chance of making it to the final four in Madison Square Garden.
3. Make their threes:
The Bonnies have shown their ability to hit shots from behind the arc averaging 8.2 threes per game as a team. Out of the eight losses, five of eight came when the Bonnies were held under their season-average in threes. While outliers like games against Syracuse and Dayton do exist—those games were wild contests where the Bonnies either had a huge lead before the half (Syracuse) or made a miraculous comeback that fell short in the 2nd half (Dayton). For the most part, if the Bonnies hit their season-average of threes — they get the win.