Conference: Horizon League
Record: 23-12 (11-7)
Conference Tournament Seed: 4
NCAA Tournament: 14 (West)
How they got to the big dance
Earlier in the season, Green Bay did not look like a tournament team. The only quality wins the Phoenix earned this season were a three-point victory at home against Akron and a nine-point win in the Horizon League tournament against Valparaiso. They started the year out 4-4, but thanks to a weak Horizon League, they caught up back up once conference play started. Green Bay started the Horizon League Tournament with wins against No. 9 seed Cleveland State and No. 5 seed Milwaukee. The Phoenix turned some heads with their performance against top-seeded Valparaiso, knocking off the favorite in overtime, 99-92. After winning seven of their last eight games, Green Bay punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament with a win in the championship game against Wright State.
Why they will be a Cinderella team
Green Bay scores 84.4 points per game, which is tied for fifth in the NCAA. Green Bay plays very up-tempo, as well. Kenpom.com has them ranked sixth in adjusted tempo, with 76.7 possessions per 40 minutes. They also force other teams to turn the ball over. The Phoenix rank first in the NCAA with an average of 10.0 steals per game. If Green Bay plays a team that has trouble taking care of the ball, look for the Phoenix to score a lot of points off of turnovers. Green Bay’s fast pace, combined with their ability to force turnovers, could spell trouble for teams not accustomed to running the floor like Green Bay does.
Why they won’t be a Cinderella team
Head coach Linc Darner is inexperienced. This is his first year coaching a Division I basketball team. It is highly unlikely that a first year coach will lead a 15 seed past the first weekend. Green Bay is almost equally inexperienced. They’ve played a very weak schedule, ranking 243rd in strength of schedule and 256th in non-conference strength of schedule. The best team they have played all year is Wisconsin, a team that was on the bubble-watch until a couple of games ago, and they lost. Even though they play an up-tempo game and score a lot of points, Green Bay allows 80.0 points per game, ranking 329th in the NCAA. If they’re having trouble keeping Horizon League teams from scoring, they will be in a lot of trouble once they enter NCAA tournament play.
Player to watch – G Carrington Love
The 6-foot-1 senior averages 17.9 points per game, while dishing out 3.5 assists per game and grabbing 2.8 rebounds per game. Love scored only 10 points in a very balanced attack in the title game against Wright State. He had a much-needed big game against Valparaiso, scoring 23 points. Love has scored 20 points or more in 13 games this season, shooting 42.5% from the field all year. He also plays a big part of Green Bay’s defense, averaging 2.6 steals per game, which accounts for over a quarter of Green Bay’s 10.0 steals per game.
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