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NCAA Tournament Preview: Long Beach State

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Casperware_medium

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The Basics

  • Record: 25-8 (15-1 in the Big West)
  • Best Wins: No. 9 Pittsburgh 86-76; No. 15 Xavier 68-58
  • Worst Losses: Montana 73-71, Kansas State 77-60, Cal State Fullerton 77-74
  • Admirable Losses: No. 8 Kansas 88-80, No. 6 UNC 84-78, Creighton 81-79
Statistically Speaking (national ranking)

  • The good: 74.0 PPG (43rd); 46.9 FG% (40th), Non-conference SOS (3rd)
  • The bad: 67.1 FT% (242nd)
  • The interesting: Playing with two-time Big West Player of the Year Casper Ware, but possibly without Defensive Player of the Year Larry Anderson. Long Beach State is deep and fast, excelling in turning defense into offense, but not nearly as efficient without Anderson (leading team in Win Shares) since he sprained his MCL against Fullerton. Whether or not he's at full strength in opening round could play pivotal role. Long Beach State probably would have earned an at-large bid without winning the Big West crown, but with so many conferences pushing for two bids they did the right thing and closed out in the tournament final.
What to Expect

Ware (above) is an absolute beast. The problem I have is that Long Beach tends to focus too much on the three-point shot, though lately they have excelled at getting to the free-throw line. They will play small, and could jump out and run on an unsuspecting opponent if Anderson is healthy. If not, look for Ware to hoist threes early and often - from there it could be a hit or miss, though these 49ers have a look in their eye that screams second round.

Ryan ZumMallen lives and updates the Twitterdome in Long Beach, CA.