"There must be a lot of people on the basketball committee that don’t know too much about basketball,‘’ coach Bruiser Flint said. "They just got to look at what’s on their paper. If we’d have played a couple tougher teams, maybe we’d have had a stronger (RPI)
Needless to say, Drexel is pissed. They won 19 straight games, 25 of 27, and were the regular season champs of the Colonial Athletic Association and yet were left out of March Madness and were not even named as a top seed in the NIT. Their last loss was a three-point loss in the conference title game to Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams, who earned the honor of representing the conference in the NCAA tournament.
Drexel’s impressive season was built off the strength of an unblemished 13-0 home record which included a six-point victory over VCU and went 11-3 on the road while going 1-3 against top 50 teams. Unfortunately, Drexel did not play enough tough teams as their strength of schedule was 230th in the country and that was the final straw for the NCAA selection committee.
Drexel has four players averaging at least ten points a contest this season led by sophomore guard Frantz Massenat who is averaging 13.6 points per contest thanks to a deadly combination of accurate free throw shooting (82 percent) and 3-point accuracy (44 percent). Drexel also has at least seven players averaging at least 20 minutes a game which speaks to their bench depth while UCF has just five players as their depth has been lessened by academics.
UCF comes into the NIT for the first time in school history licking their wounds from a second thrashing at the hands of the Memphis Tigers in two weeks. Like Drexel, UCF’s record was built on the strength of a strong performance at home where the Knights went 16-1 including a win over Memphis, but were a disappointing 3-8 on the road this season. One of those road wins came against the University of Connecticut when the Huskies were ranked fourth overall in the country, but those losses also include games at Louisiana-Lafayette and Rice. UCF’s strength of schedule was 84 on the season as they went 3-7 against teams in the Top 50 with wins over UCONN, Memphis, and Marshall while their overall RPI was 13 points better than Drexel’s at 55.
UCF has not lost back to back games since the end of January, but an inconsistent road team traveling to a dominating home team is one reason why odds-makers has made Drexel a seven point favorite in the game tonight that is being broadcast on ESPN3.
Tip-off is at 7:15p ET tonight.