NCAA March Madness Preview – Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Ohio Valley (20-14, 9-7)

 by Joel Welser

Jacksonville State is making their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. After finishing with a 9-7 record in Ohio Valley action, the Gamecocks made an impressive run through the conference tournament. After taking care of Southeast Missouri State, Coach Ray Harper’s team pulled off a huge upset against Belmont and then disposed of Tennessee-Martin in the final.

 Big Wins: 11/11 at Tulsa (84-73), 3/3 vs Belmont (65-59), 3/4 vs Tennessee-Martin (66-55)

Bad Losses: 12/10 at Louisiana-Monroe (83-88), 1/26 Eastern Kentucky (52-57), 2/18 Tennessee Tech (78-79)

Coach: Ray Harper

Why They Can Surprise:

Jacksonville State boasts a tough group of forwards who are very good on both ends of the floor. Christian Cunningham and Norbertas Giga average 2.6 blocks per game and that has made it very difficult for the opposition to score in the paint. Those two also combine for 16.3 rebounds per game so getting second chance points is no easy task either. Freshman Jacara Cross is a decent replacement for when those two need a break too. Giga has emerged as a very dangerous scorer too. He can finish in the paint, but also has a nice mid-range jumper. Cunningham tends to stick in the paint more.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The perimeter defense has haunted the Gamecocks at times this season. The opposition seems to get way too many open three-point attempts and Jacksonville State will be in trouble if those shots are falling. The Gamecocks will hope to get some open looks too and knock down some long balls. Erik Durham has been a very consistent shooter and connects on 48.4 percent of his three-point attempts. Malcolm Drumwright and Greg Tucker are more dynamic scorers, but they must be more consistent from long range if Jacksonville State hopes to pull off a massive upset in the NCAA Tournament.

Probable Starters:

Malcolm Drumwright, Junior, Guard, 12.6 ppg, 3.8 apg

Greg Tucker, Senior, Guard, 11.3 ppg, 2.4 apg

Erik Durham, Senior, Guard, 11.1 ppg, 1.9 apg, 5.0 rpg

Christian Cunningham, Sophomore, Forward, 8.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Norbertas Giga, Junior, Center, 10.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Key Role Players:

Jacara Cross, Freshman, Forward, 5.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Tyrik Edwards, Freshman, Guard, 4.2 ppg, 1.8 apg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 69.7 (256th in nation, 11th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 37.5 (301, 11)

Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (102, 5)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.5 (59, 2)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (184, 10)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.2 (74, 2)

Free-Throw Percentage: 71.2 (130, 6)

Rebound Margin: 4.1 (57, 4)

Assists Per Game: 14.1 (135, 5)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (234, 8)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

No Recent Tournament History

*all team stats through 3/5

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