MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — On Wednesday the first round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic kicks off, today we preview the second bracket in the tournament.
South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits will be playing this one in their own backyard. However, fans are not permitted at the games. South Dakota State was the pick to win the Summit League in the conference preseason poll.
The Jackrabbits return 89 percent of the scoring from last year’s squad, which won 22 games and a share of the Summit League title. However, they are still a relatively young group.
Tray Buchanan and Douglas Wilson are the lone seniors on the team. Buchanan appeared in 12 games last season before suffering a season-ending injury. He averaged 6.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3-point range and 65 percent at the free throw line.
The combination of junior Matt Dentlinger and Wilson proved to be virtually unstoppable last year.
Wilson shot 62.8 percent last season, ranking eighth in the nation. He led SDSU with 18.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest.
Dentlinger shot a conference-best 69.7 percent and averaged 12.2 points, six rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 blocks per game for the season. He notched five double-doubles.
Over the last two seasons, the Aggies have scored more points than any other two-year span in school history, scoring a school-record 2,753 points during the 2018-19 season and 2,600 points during the 2019-20 season, the third-most in school history.
During that time, Utah State has also dominated on the boards, grabbing more than 1,300 rebounds each season.
The Aggies have won back-to-back Mountain West Tournament championships and are looking to add to that this season.
Utah State will be without Sam Merrill, who finished his amazing career. They also lost Diogo Brito (graduation) and Abel Porter (transfer to Ohio State). However, the Aggies still have plenty of talent on the court.
Junior Neemias Queta returns. As a sophomore, he averaged 13 points, 7.8 boards and 1.7 blocks per game. In his final ten games of the season, Queta averaged 15.6 points, 9.4 rebounds. and 2.4 blocks per game, while shooting 60% from the floor and logging over 30 minutes per night.
With the loss of Merrill, Utah State will need someone else to step up and help Queta. Justin Bean appears to be that guy.
Last season the forward averaged 11.9 points and 10.5 rebounds. He was a clutch defender for the Aggies.
Brock Miller and Alphonso Anderson also return this season. Miller started in all 29 games and drained 60 3s. Anderson was a huge asset off the bench, where he averaged eight points a night.
The Rams were a last minute addition to the tournament after Wichita State withdrew because of several positives COVID-19 tests.
VCU finished the 2019-20 season going just 1-7, a far cry from what the program once knew.
The Rams lost five of their top six scorers from a year ago, with longtime stars De’Riante Jenkins, Marcus Evans and Issac Vann graduating along with sixth man Mike’L Simms. In addition, VCU’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, Marcus Santos-Silva, transferred to Texas Tech.
Sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland is expected to lead VCU this season. He averaged 9.8 points per game last season and rarely makes errors.
Senior Corey Douglas is the team’s best defensive threat. He had 51 blocks in 2018-19 and dominates in the paint. The forward knows how to give opponents’ fits.
West Virginia University
When the season came to an abrupt end in March, the Mountaineers were gelling.
Jermaine Haley, Logan Routt and Chase Harler were the only losses from last year’s team.
Returning are big men Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver and they make opponents cringe.
Culver is coming off an impressive sophomore season at WVU, where he averaged10 points and nine rebounds per game. Culver finished second on the team in double-figure performances with 15. He recorded six double-doubles last year.
Tshiebwe shined in his first season in Morgantown. He was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and was an unanimous selection for the Big 12 All-Freshman Team and Newcomer Team.
Tshiebwe led the team in scoring (11.2) and rebounding (9.3).
Joining Culver and Tshiebwe in the front court are Gabe Osabuohien, who led the Mountaineers in deflections (148) and charges (23).
Newcomers Taj Thweatt, Isaiah Cottrell, Kedrian Johnson and Seny Ndiaye are expected to be key contributors this season. Jalen Bridges redshirted last year and is also supposed to play a big role on Bob Huggins’ squad.
Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil were JUCO transfers that return this year. On a team that struggled from the charity stripe, Sherman was one of the more dependable guys, shooting 86 percent. McNeil led the team in made three-pointers with 29.
Miles “Deuce” McBride made a name for himself last season. He played in all 31 games averaging 10 points per game and finished second on the team in double-figure performances with 16.
Veterans Jordan McCabe and Emmitt Matthews Jr. both struggled at times last year but have proven themselves reliable when they are on.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS