Friday, January 24, 2014

Basketball, Meet Crystal Ball

Photo by Joe Mattis, courtesy Gannon Athletics
Since the Knights are off Saturday, we Gannon Hoops fans have two hours to kill this weekend. What better way to fill the time than to make wild guesses about what will happen the rest of this year? We've seen the Knights and glimpses of some opponents, so we have just enough information to be dangerous.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section how you think the Knights (6-2 PSAC, 11-7 overall) will fare over the final 8 regular season games. Feel free to just post an expected record, or you can go game-by-game like I will here:

@ Cal: W -- The Knights weren't in sync for their season opener against the Vulcans, but they still won 59-51. I suspect GU's offense has improved more than Cal (3-5 PSAC, 8-10 overall).

vs. Seton Hill: W -- I expect the Knights to get revenge for a 4-point loss at SHU in their second game of the 2013-14 campaign. As I said, the offense is improved, plus the Griffins (4-4, 11-7) have struggled in recent road games, including a 64-61 loss at woeful Clarion.

vs. Slippery Rock: L -- I think Gannon caught SRU (6-2, 15-5) off guard when they met on Dec. 4, a 68-61 GU win. And the Rock is comfortable in the Hammermill, winning last year's PSAC quarterfinal despite a hostile crowd. Both teams will be highly motivated.

@ Mercyhurst: W -- Gannon blew a giant lead the first time these teams met and made no effective adjustments to Gary Manchel's junk defenses. The Knights will be prepared for that this time, and their superior talent will stymie the Lakers (6-2, 10-8).

vs. Edinboro: W -- Gannon proved they could control big man Bryan Theriot during their recent 71-59 win. I didn't think the Knights played particularly well vs. the Scots (1-7, 8-10) but they still won by double digits. Also, Edinboro may have thrown in the towel by this point in the season.

@ IUP: L -- Indiana (6-2, 16-2) was rattled at the Audi, and they still took Gannon to overtime. How much better would GU have to play on the road to come home with a win?

vs. Clarion: W -- You have a better chance of seeing God than seeing Gannon lose to the Golden Eagles (1-7, 3-13).

@ UPJ: W -- This one really scares me. Pitt-Johnstown (3-5, 10-8) has some firepower plus they're at home in their strange pit-style gymnasium. But I think Gannon's athleticism and will carry them in the regular season finale. At least I hope it will.

If what I predicted happens, Gannon will finish 12-4 in the PSAC West and 17-9 overall, a very respectable record especially after a 2-2, 6-7 start. That would probably land them the #3 seed in the West behind IUP and Slippery Rock. GU would need to win three playoff games plus capture the PSAC tournament crown in East Stroudsburg (7-0, 17-0) to qualify for the NCAAs.

Keep in mind these predictions are for entertainment purposes only. If Adam Blazek or Raphell Thomas-Edwards turns an ankle next week, my opinions on these games will change dramatically. Heck, everyone could stay perfectly healthy and I'll probably be completely wrong.

10 comments:

  1. Whew!!... I'm glad you added that "these predictions are for entertainment purposes only". I was ready to bet the homestead on your word. :)

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  2. I don't necessarily think Gannon will lose to Cal, but I think cal will give them more fits than we think. A similar score to the first go around could be very possible.

    IUP and SRU I'm torn. IUP on road, yes I'm thinking loss. However I think SRU is better team and we play them at home. Additionally IUP saw current lineup and SRU saw a different lineup. If I was forced to bet on just one, I'd pick Gannon over IUP. They lost to Cal and then narrowly defeated Boro. As I said I believe SRU is better team (than IUP) and even though it's at Gannon and a different Gannon lineup, I believe Gannon is more likely to lose that game.

    The only other ones that worry me are hurst and Boro. I'd like to think that since an upsetting loss to hurst first go around Gannon would better prepared for them, it's still hurst and at MAC. Same with Boro. Even though it's a home game, still local rivalry and anything could happen.

    I'm going to go on a limb and say the last 8 games will be 7-1. The one loss coming to either SRU or IUP. And id say #2 seed in PSACW.

    That again is the optimist in me. 5-3 or 4-4 is extremely possible if the offense sputters again or the defense doesn't hold up their end.

    Regardless, I'm excited to see how it unfolds :-)

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  3. Lock win: EU, CLAR
    Should win: SH, Cal
    Toss up: @ MER, @UPJ
    Should lose: SRU
    Lock loss: IUP

    Best case second half: 7-1, (17-9 overall). Most likely: 5-3 (15-11), Worst case: 2-6 (12-14).

    The "goal" for the second half should be to make the conference semifinals at the highest-ranking east opponent. If we can make it to the PSAC semis, we have as good of a chance as any of the four teams at making getting the automatic NCAA bid. Seems like strange upsets occur whenever the East hosts the PSAC semis & final.

    The best chance of this happening is to come in second in the PSAC west, get a first round bye (top 6 in each division make the tourney), and get a home quarterfinal game. It's certainly attainable and it will certainly be interesting. Hope it's still this interesting in mid-February.

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  4. There is now a four-way tie for first in the PSAC West. Mercyhurst (at UPJ) and IUP (vs. Slippery Rock) both won in the closing seconds. Gannon, Mercyhurst, Indiana, and Slippery Rock are all 6-2 half way through the league schedule.

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  5. I think they win at IUP. They did it last year. IUP is overrated. Gannon plays better defense. Offensively, there's no Webb, Sanders or Smith in the IUP lineup, not even close. Blazek is better than anybody IUP can put on the court.

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  6. Saw parts of the IUP game ... Looked like a great atmosphere at KCAC. Great finish as well ...

    Also loved watching SRU coach Kevin Reynolds go ballistic when his player had a shot blocked and he thought it was a foul. Rock with two huge turnovers in the final minute, only to get bailed out when his player was fouled on a 3-point attempt. Game was tied to set up IUP hoop with two seconds left.

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  7. Watching Kevin Reynolds during a game is worth the price of admission alone.


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  8. I am going to give 3 records. Best case in my mind, worse case in my mind, and what I think will happen. Best case is 8-0. Would it be extremely tough? Damn right it would, that being said, I think they COULD pull it off. IUP and SRU are toss ups in my mind. Both games could go either way. If they do win both, the other 6 teams are all very likely wins. Worse case is 4-4. They lose both IUP and SRU and lose two additional games (If I had to guess, I would say Cal and Hurst). My opinion is that they go 7-1 and end up tied for 1st in the PSAC West. I think they sweep SRU and lost to IUP and win all other games. Varying on how IUP would do, GU could potentially get the 1 seed. They have I think a 30-35% chance to get a 1st round bye in the PSAC tourney, which would be HUGE. We will see what happens.

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  9. When we play the Rock I want the three officials that called the game down at IUP.

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  10. did anyone see the piece on Gannon last night on news? They interviewed blazek, raph and CJ. Nice little thing talking about recent success and attributing it to "people put on the spot and stepping up big". But the thing I found the most interesting about it... in the majority of the footage shown of them practicing, Gannon's defensive squad was playing zone...

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