I'm not going to detail a scouting report on Gannon's first round opponent for 2015 because that would be akin to me typing out the alphabet for you. You already know what the alphabet is, so no reason for me to follow that up with A, B, C, D, E, F, cut it out already!
Gannon fans are well aware of Slippery Rock because they've faced the Knights three times this season, including twice at the Hammermill Center. If you need me to tell you SRU fights to dominate the boards all game long while coach Kevin Reynolds works the referees even longer, you're probably on the wrong web site. (Usually I insert a "go to the Mercyhurst basketball blog joke" here, but they deserve more respect now that they've finally made the NCAA field.)
If you would like to dig into Slippery Rock more and relive some of the moments from the 2015 season, click away at these 6 links:
1. Gannon 64, Slippery Rock 51 (Nov. 19, 2014 - Erie, PA)
2. Gannon 74, Slippery Rock 71 (Wed., Jan. 18, 2015 - Slippery Rock, PA)
3. PSAC Quarterfinal: Gannon 71, Slippery Rock 45 (March 3, 2015 - Erie, PA)
4. Slippery Rock season schedule/results and team box score
5. This article is the only data I could find related to former starters Kelvin Goodwin (#11) and Cornelius Brown (#30) not being with the team. Neither has played since early February, but who knows if they could make an appearance in the NCAAs.
6. If you really want to dig deep into The Rock, here's the TV broadcast of their Jan. 24 win at California (Pa.).
I hope Gannon fans aren't still caught up in the PSAC shellacking of Slippery Rock a week ago and think a fourth matchup with IUP in the NCAA second round is a sure thing. Don't underestimate this team of fierce competitors. Forget about this year's PSAC quarterfinal and think more of last year's double-overtime slugfest.
Yes, Gannon should be a heavy favorite Saturday because they've been playing at such a high level lately and SRU is depleted. But the NCAA tourney highway is littered with high seeds who took their opponents for granted. Gannon is going to have to play well to survive and advance.
UPDATED 3/11/15: We've come a long way baby ... from 2-4 to the national rankings. Gannon is listed among others receiving votes in the latest NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Division II poll. The poll is for entertainment purposes only, but it's fun to be included. Atlantic region top seed West Liberty is ranked #5 while IUP is 25th.
* The unanimous #1 in the poll is Florida Southern, which features two former Golden Knights in its starting lineup. Seniors Stephen Battle (13.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Bubby Johnson (5.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) have led the Mocassins to a glossy 30-1 mark. If you're looking ahead -- waaaaaay ahead -- Gannon and Florida Southern could meet in the DII finals. That would be both awkward and awesome at the same time.
* If you'd like to send off the men's basketball team before they hit the road to West Liberty, get to the Hammermill Center at 7:30 Thursday evening. Click here for details from the Gannon athletics website.
* Looking back at the Gannon schedule, three of the first four opponents the Knights faced this season
qualified for the NCAAs. GU faced Glenville, Slippery Rock and Mercyhurst between Nov. 14-22. The University of Charleston, who was ranked in the region until a late-season swoon, was the fourth opponent.
* Alderson-Broaddus, who Gannon lost to in the Gary Miller Classic Nov. 29, won the GMAC Conference tournament, but did not receive an NCAA bid. The GMAC will receive an auto bid next year. It warmed my heart to see that A-B beat regular NCAA
* Speaking of Kentucky Wesleyan, they did not qualify for the NCAAs this year. Other typical postseason stalwarts and former national champions missing from the field are Findlay, Southern Indiana, Barton, Winona State, and Virginia Union. I know we've had some seasons that disappointed the Gannon faithful, but let's appreciate and enjoy this tournament run while we can. Several great programs are sitting on the sidelines.
UPDATED 3/13/15: Gannon's Adam Blazek has been named to the Daktronics All-Atlantic Region first team. Anybody want to argue with that? I didn't think so.