Game 32: vs VCU, Thursday, March 16, 4:20 p.m. PT
Vivint Smart Home Arena
All-time Series: 0-0
Last Meeting: None
TV: TBS (Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl)
Stream: NCAA March Madness Live
Audio: Sirius 145, SiriusXM 206, Sirius Internet 964
SMC Record: 28-4, 16-2 (2nd in WCC)
VCU Record: 26-8, 14-4 (2nd in A-10)
Dancing into March
Saint Mary’s (28-4, 16-2 WCC) returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012-13 to face VCU in Salt Lake City.
The Gaels are seeded seventh, while the Rams take the 10th-seed in the west region. The meeting will be the first in program history.
Both teams finished second in the regular season and their conference tournaments. The Gaels reached the finals of the WCC Championship after dismantling Portland, 81-58, and BYU, 81-50. SMC fell to top-seed Gonzaga 74-56.
The Rams defeated George Mason in the quarterfinals, 71-60, then took down Richmond in an 87-77 overtime victory. VCU fell to third-seed Rhode Island, 70-63 in Sunday’s A-10 Championship.
The Gaels defeated the A-10 regular season champion Dayton Flyers in the third game of the season, 61-57.
If the Gaels Win...
If Saint Mary’s wins the first round match versus the Rams, the Gaels will face the winner between No. 2-seed Arizona versus 15-seed North Dakota. The Pac-12 champions will take on the Fighting Hawks in Salt Lake City on March 16 at 6:50 p.m. PDT.
How the Gaels Got Here
Finishing with a 26-3 overall record in the regular season, the Gaels claimed the highest win-percentage for the reguar season in program history. The total surpasses the 1988-89 team record of 25-5.
The 16 conference wins also marks the most ever WCC wins in a single season. The Gaels notched 15 in 2015-16 for the previous record.
Numbers Never Lie
SMC was 1st in the WCC in six statistical categories: Scoring defense (56.5, 2nd NCAA) free-throw percentage (.748, 44th NCAA), rebound-margin (9.3, 2nd NCAA), three-point field goal pct (39.9 percent, 17th), assists (16.8, 15th NCAA) and assist-turnover ratio (1.6, 3rd NCAA).
SMC also ranked 2nd in field-goal percentage (.496, 8th NCAA), three-point FG defense (30.3 percent, 9th), field-goal percentage defense (40.9, 40th) and scoring margin (+15.5, 4th NCAA).
Jock Doing Big Things
Landale ranks 22nd in the NCAA with 15 double-doubles on the season.
According to the NCAA, Landale ranks 39th in rebounding (9.3), 44th in offensive rebounding (3.0) and 56th in defensive rebounding per game (6.3). Landale leads the team in points per game at 16.8 and has scored in double-figures 30 of the 32 games.
The Gaels were ranked inside the top-25 in both AP and USA Today polls for the 17th consecutive week. This year’s program continues to shatter the previous record for consecutive weeks being ranked. The previous record was five straight weeks during the 2008 and 2012 seasons.
Now No. 2 in Dimes
Emmett Naar is now 2nd in the program’s all-time list for assists (525). The junior passed assistant coach David Carter for 2nd all-time with his 11 assists in the QF win over Portland. Naar followed up the 11 assists with another 11 versus BYU to surpass Kamra Sufi for 2nd all-time.
Dancing to the Music
Saint Mary’s will be dancing in March Madness for the fifth time in the past 10 seasons. The last time the team received an At-Large bid was in 2012-13 where the Gaels defeated Middle Tennessee State, 67-54 in the play-in game. The 11th-seed back then, SMC would then lose a close one, 54-52 versus No. 6 Memphis.
Landale Named Top-5 Best Centers
With an impressive season nonetheless, Landale has been named one of the 5 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabaar Award. The award is given to the nation’s top center.
Three WCC players were named as top-10 finalists (Landale, Gonzaga’s Prezemek Karnowski and BYU’s Eric Mika). Karnowski and Landale are the lone centers from the WCC in the top-5.
Landale was also named in the top-30 list for the Naismith Trophy which is given to the top college basketball player.
Scouting Report -- VCU
The Rams are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year and for the 16th time in school history. VCU, seeded 10th in the West Region, received an at-large bid.
The Rams (26-8), in their second season under Head Coach Will Wade, topped Oregon State as a 10-seed last season in Oklahoma City. VCU later pushed second-seeded Oklahoma to the wire before falling.
VCU was one of three Atlantic 10 Conference teams to earn a trip to March Madness, joining Dayton and Rhode Island. This year's bid was the sixth at-large selection in program history.
VCU is ranked 22nd nationally in RPI. The Rams rank third in the A-10 and 77th nationally in field goal percentage (46.1). Ranks 42nd nationally in steals per game (7.5) and 44th in turnover margin (+2.1). VCU ranks 28th nationally in steal percentage (10.8).
Justin Tillman averaged 9.6 rebounds (2nd) and shot .602 (3rd) in A-10 games. Tillman (2.97) ranks 56th nationally in offensive rebounds per game. He and Alie-Cox average 5.18 offensive boards per game, combined. Tillman ranks 25th nationally in field goal percentage (.590). Alie-Cox ranks 27th nationally in blocked shots with 71.
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