A Closer Look At Coppin State
I’d like you to meet the first 20-loss team to make the NCAA Tournament, a designation that actually steals some spotlight away from Georgia and their unlikely bid.
Howeva, are the Eagles as bad as their record appears? If you go by the early season (until about February), the answer is unequivocally yes. But look a little closer. You’ll find a team that actually won 12 of their last 13 games (including their conference tournament).
The key to March success in college basketball is peaking at the right time and believe me, 12-of-13 is certainly the definition of peaking. Granted, Coppin State DID lose six games in-a-row before their strong finish, but finish strong they did.
And now they have a Tournament bid to show for their efforts.
If you were the coach of Mount St. Mary’s, the Eagles player you’d be most concerned about is Tywain McKee. During the Eagles strong close, McKee posted these scoring totals:
For those of you scoring at home, McKee averaged 22.6 points per game when Coppin State’s season came down to win-or-else time. Furthermore, during that 13-game season-saving finish, McKee never scored lower than 12 points.
Now, does this mean Coppin State is some sexy Cinderella pick? Not likely. If they do get by Mount St. Mary’s (tonight at 7:30 EST), they’ll have to play North Carolina, who, in case you didn’t know, features the hardest working player ever to play a minute of college basketball. Just ask Dick Vitale.
However, when you consider how much better CSU has been playing, coupled with a good player like McKee and the fact teams with losing records perform well in the play-in game, it’s pretty easy to like Coppin State’s chances to at least make it to the North Carolina game.
After that, it would be all gravy for the Eagles, but if UNC didn’t come to play, McKee and the rest of his teammates would make things most interesting… for a half, anyway.