Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Old Dominion Monarchs

Conference: Colonial

Record: 26-6, 14-4

Rankings: 48 (Kenpom), 36 (Sagarin), 24 (RPI)

Potential Seed: 7/8, although I've seen everywhere from 6-9

Best Players: Frank Hassell (15.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg), Kent Bazemore (12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.3 spg), Ben Finney (9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.1 apg)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: The Monarchs had a couple of nice wins this season -- Richmond, Xavier, DePaul, George Mason. Their only two questionable losses -- Drexel and Delaware - were road games in conference play. ODU has a profile that was good enough to be an at-large lock is they had lost to VCU on Monday night.

Tendencies: Old Dominion is a big, strong, physical team that aggressively gets to the offensive glass. They lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage at 45.2%, where they get a ton of their points on second chance opportunities. Old Dominion doesn't force a lot of turnovers, but the turnovers they do force tend to be of the pick-six variety -- jumping passing lanes or ripping a ball-handler and going the other way for a transition layup. The key to beating ODU is limiting these easy baskets, because the Monarchs are not a great half court team. They don't have a true point guard, a player than can create off of the dribble. They lack outside shooters. Simply put, their best offense in the half court tends to be a missed shot.

How They Got There: ODU had a good non-conference season, but dug themselves a bit of a hole at the start of conference play. After losing to George Mason, they fell to 9-4 in the league, but they haven't lost since then. They won their last six games -- five of which came in the conference -- and earned the No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament. After beating Delaware and Hofstra, the Monarchs held on against a scrappy VCU team to earn the league's auto bid.

Outlook: Old Dominion is a very good basketball team. They are experienced, they are athletic, and they defend. Keep in mind, this is a team that also knocked off Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament last season. I wouldn't want to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed that got stuck in the region with the Monarchs.

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