3 thoughts: SDSU 77, San Jose State 55 … the UNLV games, MW in the NCAA, and Gomez on the line
Three thoughts on San Diego State’s 77:55 win over San Jose State on Wednesday night at Viejas Arena:
1. The schedule
The Aztecs have missed four conference games this season, all on the road, two each at UNLV and New Mexico.
However, there is a difference between them. The New Mexico games have been “canceled,” which means they will not be postponed. The UNLV games have been “postponed,” which means they could still be.
The biggest question beyond the rest of their regular season is whether the mountain west will force the Aztecs to play the rebels in Las Vegas in the first week of March. A total of 22 conference games have been missed to date and there is hope to make a decision on which games will be postponed by the end of next week.
Like most things in this most unusual time of year, the SDSU-UNLV series is an intricate, nuanced conundrum of pros and cons.
Pros: Mountain West’s television partners must air a minimum number of games in order to fulfill their contract, and SDSU vs Everyone, not to mention its de facto rival, is an attractive series. (Keep in mind that Big-Boy CBS planned to air the original game on January 2nd.)
Pros: If you play more games, the conference ranking and thus the seeds of the conference tournaments will be fairer. It also prevents the Aztecs from getting a worse seed just because they played fewer games and had a lower percentage of conference wins (the first tiebreaker this season).
Con: The Aztecs would have to travel to Las Vegas for the two games in early March, return home, and then return to the conference tournament the following week. Or, stay there for two weeks in a row, followed by an immediate transit to Indianapolis for pre-NCAA quarantine, if selected. That’s a lot of time on the road and a lot more exposure to the virus for a team that hasn’t had a positive case since September.
Con: SDSU (15-4, 9-3) is currently number 22 on the NCAA’s NET metric. UNLV (8-9, 5-5) is 179 .. Beating the rebels doesn’t do SDSU well; Losing them to them could be catastrophic for the entire NCAA’s résumé if they don’t make it to the automatic berth by winning the conference tournament.
Coach Brian Dutcher said, “I hope the league makes a decision that will allow Mountain West to win the most teams in the NCAA tournament. If that means we don’t play these games, then I’m for it. If they feel like these games are better to play, that’s what we have to do in the end. But in my opinion it is better if we don’t take the risk of playing these games for the teams that are already in solid positions. “
If the conference decides not to let SDSU and UNLV play this week, could the Aztecs be planning a high-profile non-conference game that might endorse (and not hurt) their NCAA résumé?
Dutcher raised the possibility on Wednesday night, saying he was connected with a coach on a team that had better metrics for finding a suitable date. The Aztecs won’t play again in Fresno state until February 18, but with Matt Mitchell, Adam Seiko and Aguek Arop recovering from various injuries or illnesses, this week may not be the time.
If not now when?
“(Maybe) the week between the end of the regular season and the conference tournament,” said Dutcher, “if we can.”
2. The metrics
It’s easy to look at the NCAA’s NET and try to project tournament berths. But then you see 7-1 Colgate – with one win over Army, two over Boston University, and four over Holy Cross – in 13th place and you realize that the computer formula could be a little down on this crazy, tangled season, you know, of whack.
A more accurate representation could be the Kenpom metric, which optimized their algorithm this season due to the lack of home advantage without fans (the NET did not). which goes back almost two decades and can provide a better historical reference than the 3 year old NET; which is included on the team sheets reviewed by the selection committee; and that puts Colgate in a more believable 102nd place.
And when we do that, talk of the mountain west having four teams in the NCAA tournament gets a sobering splash of cold water.
As of Thursday, Kenpom had four MW teams in the top 70 – SDSU (21), Utah State (47), Boise State (65) and Colorado State (70). Looking at the last 10 tournaments, the team achieved the following results with the committee at these points:
21: Did the tournament every 10 years with seeds from 4 to 11.
47: Two large berths, one of which was an 11-seed game.
65: A large berth that was a box office as an 11-seed.
70: No large berths (one team made it as an automatic qualifier). For the past three years, Kenpom’s # 70 team hasn’t even reached the NIT.
SDSU’s NET rating (22) largely matches Kenpom’s, but the others don’t. Boise State is 36 in the NET, Colorado State is 47, and Utah State is the worst of the four at 50 – all talking about big berths if you trust the metric Colgate has at 13.
SDSU, the Mountain West team with the best metrics, is actively trying to create a non-conference creation game over the next several weeks. Shouldn’t the others try harder?
3. The line
The only surprise on Wednesday night was that Senior Terrell Gomez missed a free throw.
The 5-foot-8 guard led Division I at CSUN last year with 94.8 percent (109 out of 115) in free throw accuracy and was a perfect 7 out of 7 this season before hitting one with 10:56 in the first Round a little flat half lifted and it caught the back edge.
It had been almost a full year – 360 days – since his last failure in a college game, ending a streak of 28 brands in a row. He had made 86 of his last 88 attempts (97.7 percent).
“I was just telling my team-mates that I couldn’t get to the line like I usually do,” said Gomez. “I got up there, it felt a little strange to me. It felt a bit weird because it’s been a while since I’ve shot one in a game so I’m not surprised I missed it. “
One of the victims in Gomez’s transition from the green and light top scorer at CSUN to another option at SDSU was his turn. On Wednesday he had only tried two free throws in the last 15 games.
One reason for this is that he plays 14 minutes less per game than at CSUN and fell off the bench in the first half of the season. But it goes deeper. In his last two years at CSUN, he averaged 3.8 and 3.9 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes, and this season only 0.7.
Still, don’t expect his “slump” to last long. He missed two in the same game last season for the first time in his career, then made his next 42.
“I consider it free money,” said Gomez, who practices free throws with religious fanaticism. “I do my routine every day trying to either do swishes or do 15 in a row to leave. I just have to prepare. Sometimes I have days trying to do as many as possible until I miss. “
What is his personal record?
“I don’t remember,” said Gomez. “What I’m going to say is I’ve done a lot. But sometimes everyone misses. “